It’s Not Easy Being Green… But It’s Worth It
Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, SMB Media Marketing Consultant
“Going green” is one of the most popular catchphrases in the world we live in today. Every day we hear reports of scientists and experts warning us of climate change and the declining state of our planet. It is no wonder that eco-friendliness is on the minds of many people, especially younger folks who are concerned about preserving the Earth for themselves and future generations.
For quite some time now, companies have realized that the idea of “sustainability” in products is important for consumers. But now, it is truly becoming a priority for many. According to Nielsen research, 48% of US consumers are likely to change what they buy to meet environmental standards, with many even willing to pay extra. And Millennials are really driving this trend. They want eco-friendly products and will tend to become loyal followers of eco-friendly, socially responsible brands, using social media to discuss and research. They strongly want to be aligned with brands that share their values.
If your business has not yet adopted any green practices, there is no better time than the present. With so many consumers holding brands to this level of accountability, you cannot afford to stay stagnant. Although you can start small, you eventually want to work towards promoting an image of being totally green in every aspect of your business, from the corporate level to the manufacturing process to the finished product.
Some steps to take include making sure products:
- Are manufactured in a sustainable fashion
- Do not contain toxic materials or ozone-depleting substances
- Are able to be recycled and/or is produced from recycled materials
- Are being made from renewable materials (such as bamboo, etc.)
- Do not make use of excessive packaging
- Are being designed to be repairable and not "throwaway"
Once you have put the work into ensuring your production processes and products/services meet green standards, you need to put an effort into your marketing strategy. This, too, needs to reflect the values and core beliefs of your green philosophy. If you are not authentic and transparent in your advertising and messaging, consumers will be skeptical. You never want to be accused of greenwashing, which is when products or services are presented as green and they are not.
Sustainable marketing draws on the practices of traditional marketing, but it needs to be meaningful and genuine. It’s not just about the bottom line profit – it’s also about the people and the planet. There are several keys to a successful strategy:
- Understanding of consumer’s values, emotions and buying behavior related to sustainability
- Knowledge of the evolving sustainability marketplace
- Organizational commitment to sustainability and to positive relationships with customers, communities, alliances and the planet
- Make sure your product works
- Be genuine and transparent in your sustainability efforts
- Strengthen your social responsibility in big and small ways by educating the public and treating all employees fairly
Sure, there are risks associated with changing your company’s image, especially if you are well-established already. You may have to get a little creative in your marketing strategies to keep your customers comfortable if you need to raise prices or change your packaging to conform to sustainability practices. Just remember to be patient. As more and more companies jump on the green bandwagon, more and more people will embrace the green mentality, increasing your sales and customer base.
Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting. She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments. She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, two lovable little boys, a new baby on the way and two snuggly Golden Retrievers.