Green Marketing: For the People and the Planet
Sustainability Is Key In 2020
With the rise in climate activists and an increasing demand for sustainable options, it’s interesting to see how different companies are tackling the climate crisis. When a company consciously manufactures products that cause less harm to the environment and takes steps to be more sustainable¹, it becomes a huge selling point to consumers who care about the cause.
When a consumer buys an eco-friendly product, it represents an active contribution to the fight against climate change. As marketers, you promote deliberate change in buyer behaviour.
Greenwashing is a big NO!
We can’t talk about Green Marketing without first addressing the dangers of greenwashing. Consumers expect transparency from so-called sustainable brands, and there’s a fine line between saying you’re green and actually being green.
Greenwashing is a huge problem these days¹, and with how easily consumers can access information, it’s simply not worth it to be caught lying about how sustainable your products really are. It can cause considerable harm to brand image.
Alternatively, if a company – who currently engages in unsustainable practices – wants to appeal to green consumers, a good way to do so is to engage customers in improving your environmental stewardship efforts.²
That brings us into green marketing. Consumer activism has had a huge impact on marketing;¹ people demanded a green revolution and many brands delivered. But it doesn’t end there. Green marketing is a great opportunity to educate consumers. Even conscious consumers don’t know everything about every ingredient out there. Educating them in such a way that adds to their expanding knowledge of eco-products creates a value that goes beyond mere product offerings.
One problem, however, is that green marketers have become so good at appealing to climate conscious consumers, that we risk promoting overconsumption … of green products – the very thing that we’re trying to fight. Ironic, isn’t it? Regardless of plastic-free packing, sustainable materials, clean ingredients, and all those fantastic things, more consumption still creates more waste. Did green marketing strategies fail in this aspect? That’s a question up for debate, and we would argue that it’s an issue that green marketers need to tackle from here on out.
The Impact of Green Marketing
Yet, a remarkable example of how brands are engaging in green marketing while also standing for what they believe in is REI’s Black Friday #OptOutside campaign. Amid all the companies rolling out crazy discounts that have shoppers rush to stores on Black Friday, REI took a stand against the biggest shopping day in America. They decided to close every single one of their stores that day (online too).
Instead, they encouraged their customers and employees to take the day to go outside and enjoy nature. REI “exists to get people outside”, and the company realized how the concept of Black Friday went against their core values.³ Social media impressions skyrocketed as people took to the trails instead of the aisles. In the years that followed, many other companies followed suit. This, we believe, is the true power of green marketing.
We are headed towards cleaner, more mindful consumption practices, where the products we buy don’t have to be detrimental to the planet we live in. Marketers are so powerful in their ability to influence people’s attitudes and behaviours, but never has it been so important to use that power for good.
¹ Solomon, M., White, K., & Dahl, D. (2016). Consumer Behaviour: Buying, Having, and Being. Toronto: Pearson. Canada.
² Watson, B. (2016). The troubling evolution of corporate greenwashing. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/aug/20/greenwashing-environmentalism-lies-companies
³ Beer, J. (2018). How REI is keeping the #OptOutside magic alive on Black Friday. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/90271139/how-rei-is-keeping-the-optoutside-magic-alive-on-black-friday