Assignment 3 – Green Marketing
Green marketing must satisfy two objectives: improved environmental quality
and customer satisfaction. Misjudging either or overemphasizing the former at the
expense of the latter can be termed green marketing myopia. To reduce Green
niche, the blending of good engineering with good economics as well as changing
consumer preferences is required. Green
products must be positioned on a consumer value sought by targeted consumers. Companies
mostly fail because the focus on only “Green Products” than meeting consumer
needs. For example, Whirlpool won “Green
Carrot” Award for its CFC free refrigerator but its sales languished due to no
benefits in terms of features or price to consumers.
The construction industry is becoming increasingly green as government
and industry demand office buildings that are high performance and healthy for
occupants. Consumers are buying green but not necessarily for environmental
reason. “The Three Cs” of consumer value positioning, calibration of consumer
knowledge, and credibility of product claims.
Consumer Value Positioning
There are five desirable benefits commonly
associated with green products: efficiency and cost effectiveness; health and
safety; performance; symbolism and status; and convenience. In practice, the implication is that product designers and marketers
need to align environmental products’ consumer value (such as money savings) to
relevant consumer market segments (for example, cost conscious consumers).
Whirlpool’s popular Duet frontloading washer and dryer, for example,
cost more than $2,000, about double the price of conventional units; however,
the washers can save up to 12,000 gallons of water and $110 on electricity
annually compared to standard models. As energy and resource prices continue to
soar, opportunities for products offering efficiency and savings are destined
for market growth.
Most environmental products are grown or designed to minimize or
eliminate the use of toxic agents and adulterating processes, market
positioning on consumer safety and health can achieve broad appeal among
health-conscious consumers. Sales of organic foods, for example, have grown
considerably in the wake of public fear over “mad cow” disease etc. Market
positioning of organics as flavourful, healthy alternatives to factory-farm
foods has convinced consumers to pay a premium for them.
Many green products are designed to perform better than conventional
ones and can command a price premium. For example, in addition to energy
efficiency, front-loading washers clean better and are gentler on clothes
compared to conventional top-loading machines because they spin clothes in a
motion similar to clothes driers and use centrifugal force to pull dirt and
water away from clothes. Milgard Windows’ low emissivity SunCoat Low-E windows
filter the sun in the summer and reduce heat loss in the winter. While the
windows can reduce a building’s overall energy use, their more significant
benefit comes from helping to create a comfortable indoor radiant temperature
climate and protecting carpets and furniture from harmful ultraviolet rays.
Consequently, Milgard promotes the improved comfort and performance of its
SunCoat Low-E windows over conventional windows. In sum, “high performance”
positioning can broaden green product appeal.
According to popular culture experts, green marketing must appear
grass-roots driven and humorous without sounding preachy. To appeal to young
people, conservation and green consumption need the unsolicited endorsement of
high-profile celebrities and connection to cool technology.44 Prius has
capitalized on its evangelical following and high-tech image with some
satirical ads, including a television commercial comparing the hybrid with Neil
Armstrong’s moon landing (“That’s one small step on the accelerator, one giant
leap for mankind”) and product placements in popular Hollywood films and sitcoms.
To encourage hybrid vehicle adoption, some states and cities are
granting their drivers the convenience of free parking and solo-occupant access
to HOV lanes.
Some green products do not offer any of the inherent five consumer
desired benefits noted above. Austin (Texas) Energy’s “Green Choice” program
has led the nation in renewable energy sales for the past three years.54 In
2006, demand for wind energy outpaced supply so that the utility resorted to
selecting new “Green Choice” subscribers by lottery.55 While most utilities
find it challenging to sell green electricity at a premium price on its
environmental merit, Austin Energy’s success comes from bundling three benefits
that appeal to commercial power users: First, Green Choice customers are recognized
in broadcast media for their corporate responsibility; second, the green power
is marketed as “home grown,” appealing to Texan loyalties; and third, the
program offers a fixed price that is locked in for 10 years.
Calibration of Consumer Knowledge
Many of the successful green
products in the analysis described here employ compelling, educational
marketing messages and slogans that connect green product attributes with
desired consumer value. That is, the marketing programs successfully calibrated
consumer knowledge to recognize the green product’s consumer benefits. The
connection between environmental benefit and consumer value is evident in
Earthbound Farm Organic’s slogan, “Delicious produce is our business, but
health is our bottom line,” which communicates that pesticide-free produce is
flavorful and healthy. Citizen’s solar-powered Eco-Drive watch’s slogan,
“Unstoppable Caliber,” communicates the product’s convenience and performance
(that is, the battery will not die) as well as prestige.
Credibility of Product Claims
Credibility is the foundation
of effective green marketing. Green products must meet or exceed consumer
expectations by delivering their promised consumer value and providing
substantive environmental benefits.Procure product endorsements or
eco-certifications from trustworthy third parties, and educate consumers about
the meaning behind those endorsements and eco-certifications. Encourage consumer evangelism via consumers’
social and Internet communication networks with compelling, interesting, and/or
entertaining information about environmental products (for example, Tide’s
“Coldwater Challenge” Web site included a map of the United States so visitors
could track and watch their personal influence spread when their friends requested
a free sample).
The Future of Green Marketing
green marketing has been a misunderstood concept. Business scholars have viewed
it as a “fringe” topic, given that environmentalism’s acceptance of limits and
conservation does not mesh well with marketing’s traditional axioms of “give
customers what they want” and “sell as much as you can.” In practice, green
marketing myopia has led to ineffective products and consumer reluctance.
Sustainability, however, is destined to dominate twenty-first century commerce.
To avoid green marketing myopia, the future success of product
dematerialization and more sustainable services will depend on credibly
communicating and delivering consumer-desired value in the marketplace. Only
then will product dematerialization steer business onto a more sustainable