Roman Bahr, Daniel Otten, Kristina Rösch, Jochen Thien
Green marketing is not only the promotion of products with environmental characteristics but defines a broad concept which includes activities like product modification, changes in the production process or in packaging as well.
Although environmental issues influence all human activities, few companies and departments have integrated green issues into their daily operational tasks. This is especially true of marketing. As society becomes more concerned with the sustainability and natural environment, businesses have begun to modify their behavior and appearance in an attempt to address society’s „new“ concerns. Some businesses implemented concepts like environmental management systems and waste minimization quite fast, and they have integrated environmental issues into all organizational activities. Later in the text examples will be figured out.
Terms like „Green Marketing“ and „Environmental Marketing“ appear frequently in the popular press. But after all what are the benefits of “Green Marketing”?
The most important benefactor of green marketing is the environment, especially the climate change, air, water and soil conservation. Fossil fuel consumption is a major source of greenhouse gases which influence the climate change. Green marketing initiatives e.g. developing strategies to reduce the need of these forms on energy. The strategies should include a benefit for the environment and also for the consumer.
Climate change restricts agricultural productivity, increases water stress, raises sea levels, transforms ecosystems, and influences human health. Countries with developing economies are much more endangered by natural disasters than high-income countries. Green marketing and production will reduce climate change, hunger and poverty.
Consumers benefit in different important ways. At first they benefit from the knowledge that they help to lower climate change. These consumers prefer efforts to reduce pollution before efforts to raise profitability of the companies. They want to be associated with environmentally friendly products and organizations.
Managers of corporate strategy identify multiple benefits from green marketing. Companies that incorporate ecological approaches into their strategy improve their image in view of consumers, employees, investors and the green public.
Product benefits include production outputs or services designed to benefit the consumer. Green products must improve environmental quality and increase customer satisfaction. Process benefits refer to tools and knowledge in throughput technology designed to facilitate manufacturing and logistics. The efforts to produce the highest quality at the lowest possible costs are focused.
Green strategies control the supply chain to eliminate waste, analyze truck loading and route planning in the delivery process.
How can the target group be defined?
LOHAS – Lifestyle of health and sustainability
Lohas names customers, who place a special value on sustainability. Products are produced ethically, socially, fairly and biology as possible as it can be. In Germany 12.5 million people are attached to the Lohas-municipality, this corresponds to 19% of the entire population. Very interesting is the target group for advertising. The consumption group disposes an above- average high income with which the expensive sustainable articles are paid. The Lohas live a rather hedonistic life style and are very conscious of brands, they do to avoid fashion, pleasure and games, therewith differ from the traditional „Ökos“. Superficial advertising promises are not sufficient for the Lohas, because they question and investigate. They expect sustainable and straight messages of the companies. In the future campaigns will be needed which put a value of straight dialogue with the consumer. Though the Lohas are (still) in the outnumbered, however, by her buying power and her social interlinking an important target group for the marketing. The companies are encouraged to really live „Corporate Social Responsibility“ and not only to communicate.
The market analysis can be divided in 5 steps:
1. Analysis: Every company should be clear in the first step for itself where it stands, how green it would like to become and how the customers tick. The need of sustainable products and services should be checked. Potential starting point for „Green of marketing“:
1.1. Sustainable product offer. How ecologically friendly as well as energy-efficiently and raw material-efficiently can the production procedures be designed? Focus on longevity, robustness, universal usability or recycling possibility of the products? 1.2. Inducements in price configuration for an ecologically friendly, sustainability consumption.
1.3. The materials for advertisement and communication should be ecologically friendly. In „Green marketing” a constructive dialogue between supplier and customer is needed in order to synchronize needs and offers optimally. 1.4. Optimization of the whole logistics, by reduction of the long routes of transport and the application of ecologically friendly transportations.
2. Objectives: The aims of a company should appear specifically, realistically and measurably. At the end of the year should be checked how much percent were reached at last. The results and the other plans of the company should be communicated towards customers and the public. An important criteria is not only responsible operating, but also the truthful, understandable and clear information to the general public.
3. Strategy: Every company should record a strategy for which it would like to stand in the future and what should be communicated to the general public. Mostly small and middle- size companies are disadvantaged, because they cannot become “big players” from today until tomorrow.
4. Action plan: It must be evolved what has to be done to reach the aim. The budget- planning plays an important role. Moreover, milestones should be put. The companies should avoid „Green washing“, the aim must not only be implemented, but also it must lived in the reality. The general public feels deceived fastly from wrong promises.
5. Control and success story: The realization should be checked regularly to look whether all measures were realized and which success is to be registered. Successful factors in the Green marketing can be: publication, the development of image and awareness, opinions and questions by customers, the sales trend and the satisfaction of the employees.
Examples of Green Marketing
First and for most Green Marketing is more than only a green product because there are a lot of opportunities to follow the way of Green Marketing. So it is also relevant to have green processes all over the company, for example:
telephone conferences to reduce carbon dioxide writing E-Mails or using recycled paper to reduce tropical deforestation workshops for employees how to handle sustainability working with suppliers who are working themselves sustainably
As already mentioned you have to differentiate Green Marketing and Green Washing. There are firms which only make advertising of sustainability but they don`t use or live this in reality. Otherwise there are companies living Green Marketing. Volkswagen is using the circulation system for process water in production and saves round about 23 Mio. cubic meter water per year. Besides VW is doing research on fuel-efficient and low-emission cars and wants to become the number one ecologically and economically leading car manufacturers ( Irina Castillo Alvarez: http://www.die-wecker.de/unternehmen-entdecken-das-gruene-marketing, Stand 10.11.2010).
Another example illustrates how different Green Marketing can be. In 2007 “IKEA” started in Canada a project which allowed all drivers of hybrids or highly fuel-efficient automobiles to park their cars near the entrance, next to family and handicapped parking areas. They got their own parking boxes and no other ones were allowed to use one of these (cf. Robert Dahlstrom, Green Marketing Management, 2011, p. 178 ff).
Robert Dahlstrom; “Green Marketing Management” South-Western; (date: 2011)
Irina Castillo Alvarez; “Unternehmen entdecken das grüne Marketing” http://www.die-wecker.de/unternehmen-entdecken-das-gruene-marketing; (date: 10. November 2010) N.U.; “3V Marketing, Lohas“;
Adcoach Academy; “Wettbewerbsfaktor Nachhaltigkeit: “Wie Unternehmen den Einstieg ins „Green Marketing“ finden | Das 5-Schritte-Programm“ http://www.adcoach.de/Publikationen/Green-Marketing_5-Schritte.html; (date: January 2012)