What Is Green Marketing?
Green marketing is an opportunity for your business to do the right thing and be rewarded for it.
Green Products and Services
Green marketing has two main aspects. The first is that it puts environmental considerations first when it comes to creating and selling products and services. For example, a lot of people use laundry services and dry cleaners. A green version of a laundromat would use cold water washing, water-efficient machines, gentle detergents, and energy-efficient washer and dryers. Some might even be solar powered.
A green dry cleaner would use fewer harsh chemicals that would have less of an impact on the environment, while still getting the job done. They would use less plastic and paper to wrap up the clothes and give customers incentives for bringing back the wire hangers so they don’t end up in the garbage, and therefore in landfills all over the country.
Green Marketing Methods
Green marketing can also be about ensuring that all of your marketing efforts are green and have a low impact upon the environment. For example, choosing whether to produce your sales materials on paper or digitally can have a huge impact on the environment, as well as on your bottom line.
If you decide you absolutely have to have a printed piece, your choice of paper and ink can also have a significant impact on the environment. Using recycled non-glossy paper and soy ink will make a huge difference compared to new paper that is coated (shiny) and has chemical-based inks.
If you are selling tangible goods, your choice of packaging will also have a significant impact. Again, paper and ink will affect how recyclable the packaging will be. If you use plastic, choosing a recyclable plastic can make all the difference between it being repurposed, or filling up landfills all over the world.
Even the day-to-day decisions in the office as you run your green business can have a significant impact on the environment. Do your colleagues hit the print button all the time without thinking? Or do you aim for a paperless office with good back-up on both hard drives and cloud storage?
Do you use paper cups and disposable plastic coffee pods? Or mugs and a standard coffee machine with a reusable stainless steel filter? If the latter, do you use the coffee grounds for mulch in your office plants or your own garden?
Which cleaning products do you buy for the office? Bottle after bottle? Or the small containers you use to refill the bottle and just add water? Are they green cleaner without harsh chemicals? Or heavy-duty ones that pollute the environment and even cause allergic reactions?
Once you enter the realm of green marketing, you will find that it connects with other ethical considerations and personal values. For example, green marketers will often source raw materials or buy wholesale from “fair trade” co-operatives and small businesses.
As the name suggests, fair trade means that the suppliers, such as coffee farmers, are paid a fair wage for their produce, not forced to live on a poverty-level wage. Coffee, tea, and cocoa are just a few of the items you might have in your office kitchen. Fair trade clothing, jewelry and furniture might all be part of your shopping site.
Green is a mindset and certain values you can share with your customers. Green marketing is therefore not just about selling, but is a way of life. Becoming more aware of green issues can be a path to greater profits once you start putting the planet first. Take a 360-degree look at your entire business and see if green marketing is for you.
How to Promote Your Green Marketing Strategy on Social Media
Once you decide to make your business greener, it will be important to market this fact to your target audience. One of the best ways to market any new initiative is on social media.
Having said that, announcing that your business is now greener can be a tricky proposition. On the one hand, regular customers don’t really like change. On the other hand, up to 90% of US consumers are interested in green issues.
Know the Green Niche
About 20% of the US consumer base is “very green” – that is, takes green issues extremely seriously. Another 40% can be considered “medium green”; green issues tend to be one of their main considerations when they make any purchasing decisions, but it is not the most important one.
However, if you want to be seen as green and establish yourself as a green company, you have to be the real deal and “sell yourself” to the 20% who are truly green.
This is no easy feat. Fortunately, on social media, people tend to cluster in groups and share their interests. The green niche is a busy one. It also overlaps with other niches that have an ethical or even spiritual dimension.
For example, people who are interested in green issues are often also interested in LOHAS – that is Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. This is a holistic way of looking at the way they live their lives, from the foods they eat and hobbies they engage in, to the products they buy, the clothes they wear, and the housewares they purchase for their homes.
People interested in green issues are also often interested in holistic health, and are therefore willing to try herbal supplements, organic foods, and healthy activities such as yoga, tai chi, a walking program, and so on.
People who are green tend to make their purchasing decisions based on careful research about the impact that the product has on their environment. Consider how many people have purchased hybrid cars, for example.
They do detailed research before buying. Many of them go on social media to find out people’s experiences of the green item before they make their final purchasing decision. This phenomenon, referred to as social search, can greatly influence your target market before they finally decide to press the button.
In the course of their research, a green shopper will ask friends and family, and treat social media signals as word-of-mouth advertising. In fact, studies have shown that feedback on social media sites is more trusted than information given by the manufacturer. Green consumers listen to what their peers tell them rather than what they manufacturers or labels tell them.
This being the case, it is important to make sure that you pay attention to reputation management and good customer service in relation to all of your products. Social media can be a double-edged sword. It can be a great opportunity for people to share experiences. On the other hand, it can be a tool for anonymous haters or rival companies to try to undermine your business.
However, if you are sincere and honest about your products, and really have ethical issues in mind rather than just trying to cash in on the trend, you should soon see an uptake in the green products and services you are offering to this influential and lucrative target customer base.
Your website will be the hub of all your marketing activity, so be sure to have social share buttons on your site or blog so visitors to your site can share on their social media accounts with just a click. In this way, your happy customers will spread the word and create the impression of a clean, green company worth doing business with.
Tips for Creating Green Products and Services
There are a number of ways to start creating green products and services for your business. Your approach will depend on whether or not you are just starting a business, or have been in business for a while and wish to make your business greener.
Do Your Research
Your first step is to do your research. If you are starting your own business, you need to do niche research to determine whether the market you want to enter into will be profitable. Within that market, you then need to find out if green issues drive purchasing decisions.
For example, we know that dog training is a profitable niche, but are dog owners green, or interested in holistic living? The answer is yes. There are avid readers of Whole Dog Journal, for example, and would never miss an issue – especially the reviews of the healthiest all-natural dog foods for their beloved pet.
They will buy healthy toys that are not plastic and will steer clear of rawhide, since it is full of chemicals. They will avoid anything that says it is made in China after the pet food poisoning scandal that took so many pets’ lives several years ago. Think about your niche and the green issues that might be driving your target customers’ purchasing decisions, then cater to them.
Greening Your Existing Products
If you already have an existing business, it is important to survey your customer base to determine whether or not they would be interested in greener alternatives to your top-selling products. Below are a few ideas for creating greener products and services that your customers should love.
Organic Food Service
Ordering food online is booming. You could stand out if you were to offer organic whole food delivered fresh to people’s doors every day. Emphasize freshness, locality, and taste in your chemical-free organic foods.
These days, people are interested in sustainable natural fabrics, not synthetics. You can source fabrics from all over the world that are 100% organic, such as linen, bamboo and cotton. There is also a great interest in recycled or upcycled items.
Some people love to shop in vintage stores, while others love repurposing pre-existing garments. For example, you can make great cushion covers with old sweaters, and even a wedding gown out of old umbrella fabric.
If you run a lawn maintenance and garden service, consider offering an organic one that promises no harmful pesticides and harsh chemicals will be used. When making choices about what products to use, also take into consideration any family pets and children. Cocoa mulch is all natural and very effective, but dogs have died from eating it because they should not consume chocolate.
Green Wedding Planning and Live Event and Party Planning
Weddings are a prominent example of conspicuous consumption. Many modern brides, however, are concerned with the impact of their wedding on the environment. They also hesitate about spending a lot of money on cut fresh flowers when there are many green alternatives, such as silk. If you are already a wedding planner, or live event or party planner, you will know all about the amount of waste such events can generate.
If this is the case, take a 360-look at the events you run to see how you can green them. Locate products and vendors and become an affiliate and earn a commission, or earn commission on referrals.
These are just a few simple ways to create green products and services you know there will be a market for, for greater profits.