Source: E-mail dt. 19.10.2011
Green Marketing: A visionary step towards Sustainable Development
Mr. Byomakesh Debata
Mr. R. Pradeep Patnaik
Sustainable development (SD) is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come. `Green marketing' encompasses activities designed to generate and facilitate human needs so that the satiation of these needs would leave minimal negative impact on the natural environment. With the growing awareness on global warming, pollution, and other environmental issues, companies and consumers are increasingly switching to green products and services, thereby, creating a platform for sustainable development. Resources are limited and human wants are unlimited. Hence, it is very important for the marketer to utilize the resources efficiently and, at the same time, achieve the organization's objective. Green Marketing is the best-suited solution to this issue. The consumers of today are more conscious about protecting the environment. They are enlightened consumers and are known as `green consumers'. According to American Marketing Association (AMA), "Green or Environmental Marketing consists of all activities designed to generate and facilitate any exchanges intended to satisfy human needs or wants, such that the satisfaction of these needs and wants occurs, with minimal detrimental impact on the natural environment". As per the recent statistics, consumers are shifting their brands from one product to another based on the eco-friendly mechanism of the product. Here, the author has attempted to unfold the challenges and its mitigating strategies towards sustainable development and has taken ‘Green Marketing’ as the best weapon.
Green products don't work well and consumers won't pay a premium for them - is an old saying. But most of the companies today believe that investing in environmentally preferable products and technologies can be a source of innovation and competitive advantage. The success of companies practicing `green marketing' has drawn the attention of corporates, policy-makers and, more importantly, consumers. Green marketing is the recent buzzword ruling the corporate world. In today's context of global warming, climate change and environmental pollution, this concept has evolved as a savior for the mankind.
Green marketing is environment-friendly, sustainable and socially responsible marketing. According to American Marketing Association (AMA), "Green or Environmental Marketing consists of all activities designed to generate and facilitate any exchanges intended to satisfy human needs or wants, such that the satisfaction of these needs and wants occurs, with minimal detrimental impact on the natural environment".
Many people have attempted to define
the term "green marketing". It is sometimes used as a synonym to
`environmental marketing' and `ecological marketing. Jacquelyn A Ottman, author of "Green
Broadly, green marketing involves developing good quality products which can meet consumer needs and wants by focusing on the quality, performance, pricing and convenience in an environmental-friendly way. Practicing green marketing is not only good for mankind but also for the environment. It also give competitive advantage to the marketers.
Evolution of the Concept
Many people believe that green marketing has evolved from environmental marketing and ecological marketing and its scope is much wider when compared to the other two. It encompasses environment-friendly products and services and also guarentees value, pricing and customer satisfaction. The term `Green Marketing' was, in fact, coined much earlier but gained popularity only during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The AMA, for the first time, organized a workshop on `Ecological Marketing' in 1975. The results of the proceedings of the workshop were documented in one of the first books on green marketing titled `Ecological Marketing'. According to Peattie (2001). there are three phases in the evolution of green marketing:
i. Ecological Green Marketing: This is the phase when companies were concerned about the environmental problems and tried to provide appropriate solutions to the same.
ii. Environmental Green Marketing: In this phase, the focus was shifted to clean technology and this, in turn, helped in designing innovative products and taking care of waste disposal and pollution.
iii. Sustainable Green Marketing: Green marketing is not for the short-term, but needs to be sustainable in the long-term; and for this, it should be able to command adequate customer support. This concept began to gain importance during the late 1990s.
Jacquelyn A Ottman and others have described green marketing at three different levels:
i. Marketing: Development of new technology, new process and new product and
communicating the same to the customer. Innovation is an integral part of it. New process and technology to develop environment-friendly products and services.
ii. Holistic Nature: All stakeholders need to be part of this initiative _ marketer, supplier, retailer, educator, community member, regulator, NGO - indeed all of them.
iii. Environmental Issues: Need to be balanced with primary customer needs. There are many ways wherein along with making profits, marketers can take care of environmental issues.
Rules of Green Marketing
There are many ways as to how a
company can incorporate the concept of Green Marketing in its marketing
activities. The first and foremost is the customer satisfaction in an
environment-friendly way. In developed countries like the
A Few Cases
Who is a green consumer? A consumer who uses products free from non-green chemicals or uses completely natural products, can be considered green. Can a consumer who uses phosphate-free detergent be considered green or one who purchases detergents made from completely natural ingredients be called green? What percentage of the purchasing public can be identified as green? Where is the trend for green consumers heading? An example is Philips energy efficient lighting. These are environmentally oriented and command brand loyalty. Canon has reinforced the company's environment-friendly position through cause related marketing.
We cannot definitely say how much the green products have penetrated the traditional market. For example, the market penetration of biofuels can grow up to over 21% by 2030. In auto and energy sectors, green product penetration has been on a mass scale. Green products are not only essential for the environment but also necessary for businesses to keep expanding. Green Gross Domestic Product (Green GDP) is an index of economic growth with all environmental consequences of that growth being factored in. Some environmental experts prefer indicators like waste per capita and CO2 emissions per annum, which can be aggregated into a Sustainable Development Index.
As demand for organic food and
sustainable products increases, some big companies are reinventing their
products for capturing a share of the growing green market. For example,
Expedia.com customers purchase carbon offset to lessen atmospheric damage
caused by flying. Innovative green marketing promotions like Fairtrade coffee, recycled furniture, organic clothing,
etc., have placed decisions in the buyers' or consumers' hands. The empowered
consumers choose products which are environmentally preferable. Green
consumerism has resulted in various consumer products to be certified with a
Given that several other major
countries too have eco-certification schemes such as
Designing Green Products
Nowadays, green design is used to develop more environmentally beneficial products and processes. The recycling of toxic wastes avoids the dissipation of materials into the environment. For example, rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries can be recycled. The biggest challenge of green designing however is altering conventional design and manufacturing procedures to incorporate environmental considerations in a systematic and efficient manner.
A green product could be made
entirely of renewable materials and energy. Green products secure greater
profits by reducing costs and achieving higher level of exports.
Two high profile industry
sectors—building and construction, and motor vehicles—producers use Design for
Environment (DfE) to incorporate eco-efficient
principles in their product development process, which strategically reduces
the environmental impact over the entire product life cycle, from manufacture
to disposal. Consumers prefer these products because they are green, durable,
of higher quality and sometimes cheaper. Many plastic companies in
Remanufacturing is based on
cost-efficiency rather than eco-efficiency, helping in reduced cost of
materials, energy and waste disposal. These cost benefits also translate into
environmental benefits as this leads to reduced demand for raw materials,
energy consumption and lesser waste. A company named S C Johnson & Son Inc.
(Exhibit 3), which manufactures a wide range of home cleaning products, uses
recycled materials for packaging. Aerosol packages
contain 25% recycled steel and are themselves recyclable. Shipping containers
have 95% recycled content. Packaging design mostly focuses on container
capacity, recyclable and reusable materials, reduced weight and the elimination
of intermediate packaging. SC Johnson uses only chemicals permitted by
There has been a significant change in the mindset of customers, and manufacturers are leaving no stone unturned to respond to the shoppers' demands. The hotel industry is showing maximum inclination towards green marketing by projecting their eco-testimonials more aggressively. The concept of `green inn' is catching on. For example, hotels have been suggesting to their guests to reuse towels for the period of their stay, so as to save water and energy spent on laundering.
A lodge at Sun Ranch in
Clearly, the environment
is becoming a priority for hoteliers and that too for good reasons. The general
public too has started taking a firm stand on its responsibility towards the
environment and according to the Travel Industry Association-USA,
more American adults are keen to select an environmentally responsible hotel.
"Putting the `eco' in front of your name gets attention", according
to Ted Martens, director at Sustainable Travel International, a nonprofit organization in the
Introduction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Unleaded
· Solar Equipment: Solar equipments are the need of the hour, as they assist in enhancing the quality of our environment by not generating noise or air pollution. They also conserve energy.
· Energy Conservation: Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) provide an energy saving alternative to incandescent lamps, and they are also very effective in bringing down electricity expenses. Today, we find widespread use of CFLs. Similarly, introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles is a useful measure for reducing air pollution.
· Eco-friendly Furniture: It is a good substitute for classical wooden furniture which we use in our households. Eco-friendly furniture draws more on waste products and other by-products, which do not pose any threat to our environment and depends less on wood.
· Recycling: Recycled plastics, recycled rubber, textiles, recyclable synthetic and waste products go into the making of many products such as eco shoes. Similarly, eco-friendly paints are being manufactured that have non-hazardous and natural raw materials as their ingredients. Such paints are the need of the hour to make our environment safer. Handmade paper is much in demand as it is made of non-wood resources. Handmade paper has dual benefits, as it help conserve trees and also reduces pollution.
It is often said that
the green niche can be more appealing and lucrative. Customers who are
environmentally aware keep on learning more about green products and do not mind
paying more for such products. However, Edwin R Stafford, Associate Professor
of Marketing at
Nonetheless, there is
huge untapped potential for the marketing of green products which provide an
immediate advantage to the consumers. Several examples can be quoted even from
LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) in the Indian Context
LOHAS benefits in
In the organic farming sector, Navdanya Farming has joined hands with Slow Food, an
international good food movement, in spreading the movement for healthy,
culturally-diverse, high quality, nutritious and ecologically-sustainable food.
Navdanya means nine crops that represent
Today, around 20% of
More often, they are supported by
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which generally form `Self-Help Groups'
or cooperatives to become micro-enterprise units. In
Going by available trends, we are likely to soon
find hybrid cars on Indian roads in significant numbers. A hybrid vehicle is
one that uses two or more distinct power sources to propel the vehicle. At the
Auto Expo in
In the cellular phone market, Nokia,
the world's largest cell phone-maker, is working on new energy-saving products
to try to reduce its impact on the environment. Nokia, whose devices are used
by around 900 million people, was the first phone company to include reminders
in its devices encouraging people to unplug the charger once the battery was
full, to save energy. The energy-saving alerts began with the Nokia 3110 (65% recycleable), Nokia 1200, Nokia 1208 and the Nokia 1650
handsets and this feature is being extended across the Nokia product range. The
company announced a rollout of about 40 new phone models this year in
Not to lag behind, the tourism
sector, one of the fastest-growing segments in
The real estate and construction
The Winning Mantra
Companies need to believe first that Green Marketing `can work' and make diligent efforts to make necessary product improvements, which deliver performance, are marketable and profitable. Companies should not only develop green products but must explain about the same more effectively to the consumers. They also need to integrate Green Marketing strategy into all the 4 P's (Product, Price, Profit and People) of the marketing mix. Consumers, suppliers of raw materials, distributors and retailers _ all need to be made aware of Green Marketing and its benefits. Green marketing has to be considered as a visionary goal to be achieved through continuous improvements and efforts. It must be included in the company's overall corporate strategy.
Green Marketing is still in its infancy. A lot of research has yet to be made to explore various opportunities and possibilities. Profit is important for the sustenance of any firm. Adoption of Green Marketing may not be profitable sometimes in the short-run, but definitely firms that are first movers, will have competitive edge over the others in the long-run. Today's consumers are very much aware of environmental issues like global warming, climate change, etc., and are getting ready to pay the premium for environment-friendly products and services. Companies too have a role to play in creating awareness regarding the necessity of using green products. The time has come for firms to explore every opportunity to enhance their products/services in terms of quality, performance, social responsibility and environment-friendliness. Social organizations and consumer forums too have to pressurize companies to adopt green practices in their operations.
The government has to strengthen
policy measures to facilitate the move towards environment friendly products
and practices. There is already a significant degree of development in this
direction in the
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