Michael J. Polonsky defines green marketing as: "All activities designed to generate and facilitate any exchange intended to satisfy human needs or wants such that satisfying of these needs and wants occur with minimal detrimental input on the national environment."
Green marketing is driving a lot of corporate social responsibilities (CSR) themes today. Some firms are going green for short term benefits while others are looking at it as a long term responsibility and incorporating 'green' as a part of their corporate DNA. This involves developing and marketing environment-friendly products that use sustainable methods and include green packaging and labels.
Consumers worldwide are showing more concern about the environment by preferring environment-friendly products and services.
Among the recent green marketing efforts in India was the NDTV-Toyota Greenathon campaign to support the 'Lighting a Billion Lives' cause, to provide solar power to villages without electricity. Toyota PRIUS, the hybrid electric car, is another effort in the green space. Hindustan Unilever's 'Save Water' Campaign is yet another, with the company deciding to launch products that consume less water.
But are all green campaigns really tuned into environmental concern? Consumers will discard 'greenwashing' — green messages that are deceptive or self-serving.
Jacquelyn Ottman, in her book, 'The New Rules for Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools, and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding' says that marketing 'primary benefits' of green products can broaden their appeal. She also says that customers today are looking for more than just functional benefits in their products — they want brands that share their values.
Green marketing on a holistic level should not only include products or ideas but should have a parallel between eco-friendliness and consumer satisfaction. A few companies get caught up in the web of green marketing myopia, wherein the balance between environmental concern and consumer satisfaction is lost.
Sustainability is the biggest challenge for a green campaign, as too the maturity of consumers. Are our consumers 'green' enough?
The writer is EVP & Head, Marketing & Direct Channels, HDFC Life