Green marketing, are you missing the bandwagon?

With a struggling economy forcing businesses and consumers to cut back on spending, marketers are more hard pressed than ever to find new, innovative ways to pitch their product or service.

Enter the latest bandwagon – green marketing.

“Sustainability will emerge from this financial crisis as a global mega-trend offering business opportunities similar to those that arose during the information age,” said Bill Roth (Entrepreneur.com) in a recent MSNBC column.

On top of the current financial crisis, entrepreneurs and marketers are given the task to begin educating themselves and prepare for the latest sustainable, green opportunity, says Roth.

Green marketing is full of unique challenges including a lack of standards determining what it means to be a green product or company and cost of entry into the market.

Two of the top factors preventing organizations from taking a shot at green marketing are a lack of awareness and costs, according to a survey of marketing managers at Eloqua’s user conference.

Though market entry may be a challenge, nearly 60% of respondents said they believe green marketing can provide a competitive advantage and 90% think the marketing industry has a responsibility to become more environmentally friendly.

In the next 12 to 18 months, an estimated 60% of companies will move to digital marketing activities in order to be more environmentally friendly, according to survey predictions.

Marketers must be careful when touting green products even though there are no clear standards for a product’s environmental performance, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s “Green Guides.” To avoid deception and unfairness, companies must still avoid making unsubstantiated, environmentally-friendly claims (also called corporate greenwashing) in an attempt to improve sales.

Industries that were once under high levels of government regulation and public scrutiny in the past tend to have the most effective sustainability communications, according to a recent review of S&P 100 companies.

Providing as much information as possible is one of the best routes to effective communications when promoting green or sustainable products. The sustainability needs to be weaved into a company’s overall identity and connected to company messages, according to the S&P review.

The leading players in effective green marketing are mainly found in the automotive, forestry, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Industries starting to emerge onto the sustainability scene include mining, energy, transportation, shipping, technology, communications, consumer product and retail industries. Financial services, media and entertainment industries are still lagging.

“The bottom line is that from tough times comes opportunity. Make sure you’re protecting your cash so you’ll have the means to invest in green, thereby positioning yourself to appeal to consumers who are demanding–and selectively patronizing–the very greenest of businesses,” says Roth.

Give your business a head start and reduce your ecological footprint by investing in more sustainable technologies such as:

  • Instantaneous water heaters
  • Low-flow toilets
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Packaging
  • Grey water irrigation
  • Energy efficient computer hardware
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