The Effectiveness of Green Marketing
The concept of green marketing dates back to the early 1980’s. Marketers were looking at consumer attitudes toward, and consumption of green products. Green marketing has grown since that time to include ways to address air pollution, attempts to lessen our use of fossil fuels, and what companies and consumers can do to lessen their impact on the environment. Green marketing has raised awareness that we need to do more to protect our environment. Green marketing is evolving and growing; green marketing has changed our commercial and consumer landscape over the past decade”(Cherian & Jacob p.117). Over the past decade, many large and small companies have been utilizing green marketing to target consumers who are seeking organic foods and effective environmental friendly products. Green marketing has also led to a good deal of interest by companies and utilities in the use of renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind and water. The use of renewable energy could benefit companies, utilities, and consumers. Non-renewable energy resources like those produced through the combustion of fossil fuels have been used to generate much of the world’s power. Their use has led to water and air pollution, harm to plant and animal life and the creation of toxic wastes. There are recycling efforts and start-up companies trying to develop more green products.
New green companies are seeking to invent, manufacture, and sell and buy products that respect the Earth. There is a growing trend toward switching over to green products by both businesses and consumers because of intensive green marketing. It is not a widespread trend, but it is evolving in cities, stores, companies, and with consumers. A growing trend among corporations across the world is to present environmental advertisements. Studies have found that this is a major factor influencing green marketing. “But it order to grow and become more effective, green marketing will need to look for innovative ways to attract new consumers who have not bought or tried any green products or services” (Cherian & Jacob p 121-122).
Greater responsibility toward our environment and pressure from environmental groups has led to the development and conversion to eco-friendly products. This not only includes simple products but also the manufacturing of hybrid cars. This shift to “green” can be seen as expensive to both consumers and businesses, but it is believed it will pay off in the future (Cherian & Jacob p.118-119). It is felt that if people will spend more now in trying to be more responsible about protecting our environment future generations will gain the rewards of higher spending now . Monies have been spent on the conversion to eco-friendly products. The government has given tax incentives for companies to manufacture hybrid cars and in finding and developing ways to harness solar and wind energy in our country and in Western Europe (Cherian & Jacob p.117). There has been progress and change due to green marketing. But even with the willingness of some consumers to do more and spend more to go green it has not led to an overall change in consumer attitudes worldwide. Green marketing has not been as effective as it can be in initiating real change in consumer attitudes and buying behavior. People and companies are now more aware of their responsibilities toward the environment, but changing the long standing buying behavior of consumers and changing the attitudes of businesses and consumers is a difficult task.
Last spring, the Wall Street Journal reported that “green marketing” was losing its appeal in the United States. After 10 years or more of designing messages and products to meet consumers’ environmental sensibilities, companies found that shoppers were choosing conveniences over ecological benefits.(Commentary Stafford p.8) A recent study by J. D. Power and Associates reveals that 30% of new car buyers would definitely consider and another 30% would strongly consider buying a hybrid gas-electric vehicle in the future(Stafford p.9). Concerns over fuel prices, Federal tax incentives, foreign oil dependency and the environment were all cited as factors for considering buying hybrid gas-electric automobiles(Stafford p.9). The fuel efficient technology appears to be gaining more mainstream acceptance, particularly among women(Stafford p.9). This study by J. D. Power shows that consumers are thinking more about the environment with their now considering buying more energy efficient vehicles in the future. However, considering buying a more energy efficient car is not actually buying one.
The only question that remains is will people actually buy more energy efficient automobiles in the future? This type of green technology is not new. Before New York City ever had its yellow fleet of gas-guzzling taxis there was a thriving electric-taxi company that served the entire metropolis at the turn of the 20th century (Walsh, Time on-line) Henry Ford even had an electric Model-T. Electric cars have been found to be practical on only short commutes, and that is why today automobile companies manufacture hybrids. Most hybrid vehicles on the road are gasoline and electric powered. It has been found that consumers are now looking more at buying hybrids because of environmental concerns and concerns about the cost of gasoline. Green marketing has contributed to growth in the development of more fuel efficient cars. It has emphasized the damage that air pollution from cars has done to our environment, but this may not be enough to change consumers buying habits. In order to gain a greater share of the market, green marketing needs to emphasize personal benefits to attract more consumer interest in buying hybrids. Convenience should be emphasized as well as cost. You do not need to fill up so often, and you will spend less money on gasoline.
Green marketing has been effective tool regarding the need for all of us to be more aware of how our lifestyle has impacted our environment. We have damaged our streams, rivers, and oceans, and the air that we breathe. We need to respect the Earth. But in order to be more effective, green marketing needs to focus more on the personal benefits that we will derive from changing our modern day lifestyle. “Lack of communication is considered to be a major reason for commercial failures of environmentally sustainable products”(Cherian & Jacob P.123). People may spend more on green goods and services if they see personal benefits as well as environmental ones. Consumers need to believe that buying green products will help our environment. They have to believe that green products are reliable, effective and do have ecological benefits. “A number of studies have shown that people tend to have a negative view towards green products that according to them it shows a marked tradeoff between its effects on the environment and the performance of the brand” (Cherian &Jacob p.123). Over time, consumers have to believe in the quality of green products and that going green will save consumer monies as well as save our planet.
It is in our human nature to opt for conveniences, and most of the time many of us won’t pay more for cars, household goods, and other products that include fuel efficient cars. It seems that consumers want to know how products perform. If the item works well and has minimal impact on the Earth, then people feel good about purchasing it (Marty p.46). This may happen sometimes. However, what usually happens is that we may want to buy environmental friendly products, but we all tend to look at price first regardless of products being advertised as having ecological benefits. We gravitate toward products that have worked for us, and they are usually non-green products. Most of us have gone to the Dollar Stores Consumers want effective products at the lowest possible prices. This holds true regarding green products.
In green marketing research, people may say they will pay more to go green, but in reality will most consumers do this? “Green marketing is not dead, but green marketing will need to change their message and use different techniques in order to get greater societal participation in buying green products” (Stafford p.9) The higher cost of green products may not be the only green marketing problem. Do people resist buying green products because they distrust the claims that they are really environmental friendly and that they work as well as non-green products? “There is some truth to why many consumers don’t really believe all green products are eco-friendly, and why they question the effectiveness of green products”(Stafford p.9). Stafford believes that even if a label says “eco-friendly,” the product may not actually be good for the environment.
On October 12, 2012 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released revised Green Guides. These guides were first issued in 1992(Bergeson p. 11). The FTC intends for the new Green Guides to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive(Bergeson p.11). Marketers should not make broad, unqualified general environmental benefit claims about items such as “eco-friendly.” Broad claims have been found to be almost impossible to substantiate(Bergeson p.11) The FTC states that marketers need to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support their claims that their advertised labeled products are really degradable, non-toxic, ozone-safe, and ozone friendly.(Bergeson p.11) In short, are we really getting eco-friendly products as advertised? I think the FTC had seen many false claims made by companies to try and capture more of the market and the FTC had to do a revision of the Green Guides. Many companies were exploiting the green market for financial gain in making claims about all sorts of green items. The FTC found that claims by companies were either found not to be true or unable to be substantiated(Bergeson p.11). The downside of the new FTC Green Guides is that these are only guides for companies and they have no bite. The Green Guides are not really enforceable, but they are influential in framing claims enforced by state attorneys general under Consumer Protection laws(Bergeson p.11)
It has been found regardless of green marketing techniques that consumers also do not believe that green products are as effective as non-green products. Are good green products that work well not promoted enough to consumers? Do you and I know which green products work as well or even better than similar non-green products? People must believe that green products are as effective as non-green products before they actually make a purchase. Green products may be priced higher than non-green products. People may want to buy that product, but consumers will not pay more for inferior products regardless of ecological benefits. Green products must function and work as effectively as non-green products. It has been found that consumers choose product on quality: How well they clean clothes, kill bugs, and meet their basic needs(Stafford p.9) In order for green products to have more broad market appeal, companies need to first make effective green products. Everyone discusses products in the marketplace and how well they work or don’t work. Green products that are not found to be as effective as non-green products, will not sell to most consumers no matter how eco-friendly they may appear. Every day more consumers recognize the power of their dollars, and they do take responsibility for the products they purchase(Marty p.9). Green marketers can encourage consumers to try environmental friendly products, and environmentally conscious consumers and others may try them. But if they don’t work well as non-green products, consumers are not willing to spend their cash on these green products.
Green marketing needs new innovative ideas and techniques in order to be more effective. After reading articles and reviewing green marketing strategies, I believe there is something missing that would help expand going green in neighborhoods and cities. In order to change consumer habits more good reliable information on products, services and companies is needed. Green marketing needs improved communication to catch the eyes of the consumers and businesses
Most people are on the computer daily, and green marketing needs an on line version of an Angie’s type of list. As many of you know, Angie’s list provides consumers with reliable information on plumbers, electricians, contractors, doctors and more in your area. It offers consumers a choice with respect to services and providers based on comments and reviews from consumers who have used certain providers, certain services and products.
I propose an on-line Lexie’s List for a comprehensive evaluation of green products as well as a list that disseminates green information to consumers. Green information can be info about new products and new services that will soon be available. I would also plan to give Info on products that others have tried in other cities, states and countries. Can we get these good green products and services to where we live.
The reason why I feel we need a Lexie’s List is that it is apparent from my readings that people are confused about green products. People are not always sure what is in the products they are purchasing and they often question the effectiveness of green products. This will probably lead to people not buying them because they don’t know if they work as advertised. Also, based on my readings, some consumers don’t believe companies who advertise their products as being eco-friendly. Who really knows what green products are good and effective. Who knows what companies have been developing, selling and marketing good green products? There is no data base for consumers to judge for themselves. It is obvious there is not enough information from people who have purchased green items and used them. No one is really relaying reliable info to consumers. Consumers are exposed to many green items, but are not certain of their reliability. There is not a real comprehensive data base for evaluating green products or a data base for disseminating green information.
I have to admit, I was very inspired about Angie’s list so I decided to come up with my own researched list. Lexie’s List would be a compilation of comments and reviews from consumers about green products they have bought and used. It could also be a site to exchange information about where to purchase certain items and services. It could also potentially, be a site where consumers would discover who has the lowest prices on good green products that reviewers have found to be effective.
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• Stafford, Edwin R. “Energy Efficiency And The New Green Marketing.” Environment 45.3 (2003): 8. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 May 2013.
• Israel, Glenn. “Taming The Green Marketing Monster: National Standards For Environmental Marketing Claims.” Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 20.2 (1993): 303. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 May 2013.
• Bergeson, Lynn L. “FTC Releases Revised Green Guides – Finally.” Pollution Engineering 44.12 (2012): 11. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 May 2013.
• Klara, Robert. “Coffee and Some Meadow Muffins.” Brandweek 10 Mar. 2008: 18. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 May 2013.
• Walsh, Adam. “Science & Space.” Science Space Going Green Category. N.p., 6 Apr. 2011. Web. 14 May 2013.