Nobody is going to come out and say their business does NOT support sustainability, or that they aren’t doing what they can to help the environment. It would be the end of their business in the eyes of the consumer! But it’s also dangerous to ‘Greenwash’ and say that something has green credentials when its benefits to the environment are dubious at best. So how do we toe the line with our marketing and not risk being seen to be doing it all for publicity?
There are two things we need to look at as they are both referred to as Green Marketing, but they are different concepts:
- Sustainable Marketing Practices: Being responsible about how we market
- Green Marketing: Marketing the green credentials of products
Being environmentally responsible marketers means not giving away single-use or plastic corporate gifts and choosing sustainable alternatives; not wasting paper with flyer drops or direct mail campaigns when a greener alternative could be used; and not doing anything where a lot of energy is used when an alternative would do (e.g. inflatables at trade shows, boasting about lots of travelling, etc.). These are sustainable marketing practices – and it is something we should all be doing…but that’s a separate blog.
What is Green Marketing?
Green marketing is when you develop or market a product based on its environmental sustainability (whether it’s proven or not!). For example, Tesco made the inner tube of their toilet rolls smaller, so they could get more on a pallet, so they needed fewer trucks to deliver the same amount! So they marketed the reduced emissions used in their supply chain.
Green marketing can also refer to promoting your company’s sustainable business practice or, like Patagonia, your support for environmental initiatives. This commitment ranges from paying to plant trees, or being real activists in the global campaign to combat climate change.
Why are companies doing this?
All the research done internationally on buying behaviours points to consumers becoming increasingly concerned with environmental and social factors. They are more likely to choose a company which openly supports environmental causes, or provides them with greener products, which is why green credentials are now an important part of all marketing strategies.
As well as keeping your consumers happy, green credentials can also play a part in receiving funding and investment, and can be a requirement on tenders and even award entries.
OK, seems like a no-brainer, so why would companies not do Green Marketing?
The truth is that being environmentally responsible costs more. Getting uniforms for your team made from recycled plastic bottles costs more than getting the classic Fruit of the Loom polos printed up! Choosing to meet remotely rather than raise your emissions with travel to meet your potential customers face-to-face can be tricky for small, new businesses which may not have built trust up yet. It’s a tough balancing act for small businesses.
So what can small businesses do?
Green Marketing does refer specifically to environmental practices, but corporate and community social responsibility is still a big selling point for many consumers, so if you can’t afford to go completely Green, choose smaller ways that you can just be nice!
Here are some other low-cost ways that small businesses can improve their ‘Green Credentials’:
- Use less paper, and if you have to print something, use recycled paper where possible.
- Opt for electronic receipts and marketing if you can.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle…that’s an easy one.
- Paper instead of plastic for packaging your products.
- Get involved in some of the UK Government’s schemes like cycle-to-work to help your staff make more environmentally sound travel choices.
- Why not join initiatives like Net Zero which offer support to help you make better choices for your business?
Any other suggestions? Let us know and we’ll add them to the list!
Get in touch with us for advice on how you can make greener choices for your marketing.