There are a number of common mistakes new green marketers make that can cost you big time if you aren’t careful. Some are totally inadvertent. Others are deliberate, and can ruin your brand’s reputation if you get caught.
1. Not knowing your niche
The green marketing niche is booming, so it is easy to get carried away with the idea of jumping on the bandwagon in order to ride along the trail to profits. However, it is important to know your market, and make sure that your messaging is on point.
About 20% of US consumers are considered to be "true green" - that is, very keen and knowledgeable about the issue, so you need to win them over if you are going to succeed in tapping into the entire 90% of the population who has expressed some interest in buying green products.
2. Not thinking through the full implications
Your product needs to pass the test with True Greens if you wish to establish a good reputation as a green marketer offering eco-friendly products and services. You also need to demonstrate a green ethos in your company to prove that you are not just paying lip service to green values.
Some companies have been caught out when extreme greens dig through their trash to find out just how much recycling they are really doing, or investigate the origins of their raw materials to determine whether or not it is green and fair trade so that no one is exploited.
3. Not taking into account the intelligence and commitment of this audience
Those who think about green issues usually tend to do research about the topic and question the products they buy to see if they are green enough. In addition, they worry about fair trade and also LOHAS, Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability.
For many green shoppers, it is not just a case of buying a tube of toothpaste. Any purchase is part of an entire focus on holistic living. They consider price and quality, but also raw materials, where they come from, if products are tested on animals, and so on. They read labels and do background research, so your product needs to be able to stand up to this kind of intense and intelligent scrutiny if you are to succeed in business.
4. Not getting your labeling right
Green marketers can get carried away with cool slogans and their own rhetoric. They also don’t think things through thoroughly because they often don’t know their market well enough - or, in a worst-case scenario, try to trick consumers by presenting themselves as green when they really aren’t.
For example, Clorox boasts about greener cleaners, but they still churn out caustic ones by the gallon. A car company might boast about their hybrid vehicles, but a quick internet search reveals that they are manufacturing ten times more gas-guzzling autos each year.
Misleading consumers about the extent to which your company is green is termed "greenwashing" and comes from the term whitewashing, making something appear cleaner than it really is. In this case, companies who greenwash are trying to make their products seem more eco-friendly than they really are. But since True Greens can be such intelligent consumers, greenwashing is a bad idea if you value your reputation and profits long term.
These common errors in green marketing can cost you if you make them, or try to trick your target market. Put green ethics above profits and you should soon have a successful green company with happy customers and a good reputation.