Human societies have grown exponentially over the past centuries. For all the comfort and conveniences that we have engineered around us, it has taken a deplorable and colossal toll on our planet. Today we have a market which was not conceivable almost half a century ago. The sheer variety of products is overwhelming. In light of this, many businesses have embraced an eco-friendly approach towards conducting their activities and giving back to the planet.
Consumers have started inculcating a greener lifestyle and are seen moving towards products and services which are not detrimental to the environment. This consumer behaviour has made more and more businesses explore the green approach. Marketing products, brands, and services as eco-friendly and through environmentally conscious decisions is called green marketing.
Green marketing is typically practiced by companies that are committed to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. More organizations are making an effort to implement sustainable business practices as they recognize that in doing so, they can make their products more attractive to consumers and also reduce expenses, including packaging, transportation, energy/water usage, etc. Businesses are increasingly discovering that demonstrating a high level of social responsibility can increase brand loyalty among socially conscious consumers; green marketing can help them do that.
Make a green culture within your organisation
Before attracting conscious consumers and projecting your green initiatives outward, eco-friendly practices must be a part of your organisation’s internal culture.
If your business’s mission is in line with your greener vision, then you will organically attract the right kind of audience. You don’t necessarily need to force sell your product or service as green when it’s not. Instead, you can recognise and celebrate in what other ways your business is making environmentally conscious choices.
Creating a green culture is easier for offline businesses than online ones. When it comes to online business, owners are clueless in what way they are detrimental to the environment and how they can redeem themselves. If you are an online business, then the foremost thing you can do to go green is look at your web hosting. A web server, on average, produces more than 630 kg of CO2 and consumes 1,000 kWh of energy annually. It is estimated that if energy consumption due to web hosting keeps rising at the current rate then by 2020 the industry will be polluting the planet more than the airline industry. A green web host, on the other hand, theoretically produces zero CO2.
Choosing to host your business with a green web host provider can be an internal step your business can take to create a greener culture.
Be transparent and be vocal
Being transparent means that you, as a business, openly commit to green practices like going paperless or using recycled material. This builds up your brand’s credibility among your consumers. Let consumers in on how your business is conducting green practices by sharing it in video series, blog posts, podcasts, etc.
Marketers who manage a blog generate 67% more leads than those who don’t maintain a blog. Using a blog can be an organic way to let your consumers in and make them feel like insiders and have a more personal and intimate look at your company’s practices.
Let’s look at tools and methods that you can employ to cover broader aspects of your business and communicate your greener agendas.
1. Print on recycled paper
Recycling paper is by far the most popular and truly effective eco-friendly decision. If you print a lot of brochures, business cards, catalogs, flyers or any other promotional material, you can use recycled paper to do so. Many vendors now provide recycled paper options to print. The cost is as minimal as printing on regular paper.
On your promotional material, mention that these prints are made on recycled paper, either using an insignia or a one-liner. This communicates an impression of your conscious choices and is impressive for your consumers and other businesses you deal with. When Zara launched its line of eco-friendly clothing, it was branded as “recycled material used”. However, it was not the fabric itself which was recycled but the paper tag put on each piece that was made from recycled paper.
2. Promote local vendors
When a business uses services of vendors that are geographically far away, then it naturally increases the cost. It also brings almost no contribution to the local economy. Instead, using the services of local vendors will boost the local economy and bring down the cost for you as well.
Using local vendors also brings down your carbon footprint significantly. Your business will also be minimizing gas consumption and carbon emissions. Be vocal about promoting local vendors. This will encourage vendors to connect with you more, and consumers are more likely to choose your service on goodwill.
3. Use green logos and insignia
If you are a green business, then the easiest way to let the world know is by using green logos and insignias. Use these logos and symbols in your marketing, branding, and promotional materials. You can put these symbols and logos on your websites, landing pages, advertisements, marketing materials, business cards, packaging, and vehicle graphics. Logo examples include the standard recycling arrow logo, Energy Star Rating logo, and membership logos.
In a study of consumer awareness and attitudes towards green products, it was found that a whopping 67.9% of people agreed in total that self-explanatory labels influence their buying decision, which is larger than advertisements.
4. Go for online marketing
I don’t need to educate you on how important online marketing is. It is more eco-friendly than direct marketing. The size of the carbon footprint is significantly lower.
The best thing about online marketing is that smaller businesses can make use of it more effectively than direct marketing. The costs are cheaper and small businesses can leverage reaching out to their highly condensed audience base with online tools more efficiently.
5. Giving back to the community
There are a lot of big and small brands that have recognised that giving back to the community is an essential ethos. It is not just about promoting your brand as a socially responsible business but also about taking care of the ecosystem from which the brand takes resources.
Brands can involve themselves in local charity, donations or any other initiative. Planting trees, donating a portion of a sale to an environmental organization, supporting local farmers, promotional events for local vendors, etc. are some ways you can give back to the community.
Your customers will feel proud to be a part of your brand. They will make buying decisions more effortlessly.
AirBnB is an innovative company that has revolutionized the travel industry. It is a great example of giving back to its own ecosystem. The company’s powerful OpenHomes campaign provides temporary housing to people who have been displaced by conflict, illness or natural disasters in their home countries. Patagonia is another brand that pledges 1% to the planet, meaning that since 1985 the brand has given over $89 million to organizations that support making positive environmental change in local communities.
If you look around, you will find various ways through which you can make your business eco-friendlier. Green marketing will aid you positively if it is backed by substance.
Always try to strike a balance between profiting from green marketing and giving back to the environment. If you are deeply involved in green activities at the cost of your business, that is not practical at all. Profiting at the cost of your local environment is also not correct.
Thus, strive to strike the right balance!