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Green marketing: focused on sales while being environmentally friendly

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Cheap products and the oft-quoted consumer philosophy have long been known to harm the environment and the working conditions of employees in many producing countries. However, most people have only become fully aware of the extent of these problems in recent years, whether through awareness campaigns by NGOs or photos circulating on social media. Images of children working in textile factories, picking up trash on dreamy beaches, and plastic in the stomachs of dead animals gradually led to new thinking.

Green marketing

Today, it is becoming increasingly important for consumers to purchase mindfully. This is where green marketing comes in. It is an instrument allowing companies to communicate sustainable production strategies and environmentally friendly activities and thus win new customers or retain existing customers over the long term.


What is Green Marketing? Definition and context

Green marketing, eco-marketing, ecological marketing, sustainable marketing, all these more or less synonymous terms revolve around the successful marketing of products from sustainable production.


In the economic context, ecological marketing refers to all advertising and information efforts that promote or emphasize products' environmental compatibility or the production chain's sustainability. It is about convincing customers of the sustainability of their products or services through targeted advertising measures. The term also encompasses all measures that impact improving the environmental balance of a company or its production processes.


Definition

Green marketing is part of sustainable business management that reduces the harmful impacts of all market-related aspects of the production and use of products for the environment and people, and in the best-case scenario, even avoids them altogether. The aim is to design a product's production, marketing, and use so that customers are encouraged to consume it conscientiously and sustainably.


Responsible Marketing

Every small step towards ecological and sustainable consumption is essential in a world that increasingly suffers from present and past mistakes regarding respecting the environment. NGOs, educational institutions, and the media are primarily responsible for informing and educating the public on environmental issues. They tell the long-term causes and consequences and offer solutions to improve the situation. However, companies can also take on responsibilities and activities under corporate social responsibility. This means they act from a business perspective and consider social, ecological, and ethical aspects in their decisions.


Within this concept, green marketing is the sub-area that focuses on an ecological and sustainable orientation of marketing measures. In other words, it is about integrating ecological aspects into all areas of marketing. The basis is the classic marketing mix with its four pillars, also called the 4Ps of marketing:

  • Product (product policy)

  • Price (Price Policy)

  • Place (distribution policy)

  • Promotion (Communication policy)

It is possible to make each area "greener" through ecological measures. Possibilities range from packaging made from recycled materials and more environmentally friendly distribution channels to rental or depot models instead of traditional sales.



Implementation and benefits of green marketing

There are different ways to establish green marketing in a business. They are based on the company's desire to position itself on the efforts (financial and human) that it can/must provide.


  1. Responsibilities: only the laws and regulations in force are applied.

  2. Selective: the choice of ecological measures is based on competition and goes very little beyond their activities.

  3. Internal: Green marketing focuses on internal company processes such as development and production.

  4. Innovative: a global eco-strategy is developed, based not only on already known and proven methods but also on innovative methods regarding environmental protection and sustainability. The aim is to set new standards and lead by example.


Depending on the orientation you choose, the green marketing orientation can be reflected in the classic 4P marketing mix as follows:


  1. Product Policy: The product must be made from natural or at least environmentally friendly materials. In the best case, this not only helps to protect nature but also to mitigate existing environmental damage.

  2. Pricing policy: the additional costs resulting from the evolution towards tremendous respect for ecological standards can be passed on to a certain extent to the price. If the price increase is communicated transparently and plausibly, many consumers will pay a higher price for sustainably produced goods. If the opportunity arises, renting or sharing options with resource-efficient and social elements is possible.

  3. Commercial policy: the transport routes necessary within the framework of a production cycle and the sales channels are decisive for the ecological footprint of a product. They must therefore be organized in such a way as to respect the environment and save resources as much as possible. This can be done, for example, by using regional raw materials.

  4. Communication: on the one hand, it is a matter of making advertising measures as environmentally friendly as possible, for example, by eliminating flyers, which often end up in the trash after a glance and user preference for online media for marketing purposes. On the other hand, a communication strategy must be developed for the company's environmental activities. The objective here is to inform (future) customers and retain them over the long term.

Ultimately, every business must decide how seriously they implement their green marketing strategies and how they communicate them to the outside world. The procedure must be credible. Otherwise, the accusation of greenwashing will quickly be heard. This negative term describes public relations measures that present a company or individual products as environmentally friendly and sustainable without corresponding to reality. Consumers are, therefore, deliberately disrupted to gain short-term competitive advantages. However, such an approach is lastingly harmful to the image of a company or a brand.


The following examples illustrate the skillful implementation of green marketing:


Grohe AG

Grohe AG is one of the world's leading kitchen and bathroom equipment manufacturers, making producing resource-efficient products its sustainability priority. For example, with the development of the "EcoJoy" product line, the company has created taps that reduce water consumption by up to 50%. Another innovation is the "Silk Move ES" technology, which supplies cold water only when the tap lever is in the central position, thus avoiding unnecessary hot water consumption. Grohe products, therefore, make an essential contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in private households.


The company also sets an excellent example in its production processes. In its melting furnaces, it produces alloys containing 35% less lead. The company has also significantly reduced its CO2 emissions and water consumption recently. Grohe continuously invests in strategies and research areas that can improve the company's long-term sustainability.

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