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Green Marketing: Trends, Uses, Case Studies


In today’s world, the odds are very good that you are, or have considered being, “green.” While going green was largely considered nothing more than a trend when it first entered the business scene, studies have shown that being more eco-friendly can have numerous positive effects on any type of business, from economic factors to consumer-related ones. And as Chris pointed out, appealing to the green-minded population this Holiday season can do harm in helping to drive sales.

Here are a few pointers for Green Marketing this month:

1. Be Blatant. During the age of information, any consumer can simply go online to find out whether a company practices green initiatives or not. But why make it so hard for them to figure out what you are doing for the environment, when you know eco-friendliness is such an important business practice to today’s modern consumer? McDonald’s is a perfect example. Most people don’t associate them with green initiatives as their business is based around hamburgers, fries and soft drinks. But over the last decade, the fast-food chain has made substantial eco-friendly strides. The restaurant giant now puts its used cooking oil into biodiesel vehicles, uses non-hydrogenated cooking oils, and purchases sustainably grown coffee and organic milk. So what has McDonald’s done to highlight its intentions? While the iconic “M” arch remains gold in the U.S., in many European countries, the arch has been changed to green.


2. Appeal to all Genders. Small and quiet hybrid cars, reusable shopping bags, eating organically; on the surface, going green isn’t the easiest thing for the typical male ego to adjust to. According to OgilvyEarth, 82% of Americans consider going green “feminine.” So how do we reach out to these men who are too afraid to take the next green step? Easy – find what speaks to them, and incorporate the Green. For example, even sports associations have found a way to work in green initiatives. Most recently, NASCAR introduced a plan to go substantially greener. They plan to collect used fuel, plant trees to offset carbon emissions and deploy sheep to keep the infield grass short. While this will both save money and help the environment, NASCAR also hopes that the effort will also attract new types of sponsors who would have otherwise paid no attention to the sport.


3. Shift from Exclusive to Easy. There’s a “green gap” that exists between what consumers say and what they actually do when it comes to sustainable living. There’s a certain stigma that comes with being green, and because of that, there’s also exclusivity. People around the world want to say that they’re green, but because of the green gap, aren’t sure how to actually achieve it. In order to close the gap, marketers need to figure out how to change the stigma and allow green purchasing practices to enter the mainstream population.

  • Make products common: The middle-class majority is not looking to set itself apart from everyone else. In contrast, it simply wants to fit in. When it comes to driving mass behavior change, marketers need to restrain the urge to make going green feel cool or different, and instead make it normal and easy-to-access.
  • Bring down the costs: The high prices of many green products suggest an attempt to limit or discourage more sustainable choices. Eliminating the price barrier negates the notion that green products are not for normal citizens. The more people go green the better, so do what it takes to make green products more affordable and, therefore, accessible.
  • Don’t fancy up products: Just because a product is green doesn’t mean it has to look like it was made of leaves. In order for green products to sell, they must emphasize the most compelling personal benefits, just as non-green products do.
  • Remember, pleasure over praise: Most green products aim at people’s altruism rather than their innate desire for pleasure and enjoyment. To do so is to deny the truth about humans and their natural priorities. So, even though being green means helping the environment and making the world a better place, don’t forget to highlight that it can be beneficial to each individual as well.

Green standards and certifications will change the competitive landscape of industries and the players within them. It’s not just about what you make anymore, but about how (and where) you make it. The desire to go green forces companies to reinvent products, services, and business models in ways we’ve never seen before. The good news is that everyone seems to be trying to be some shade of green, and green today means so many different things to different people. As marketers, we have been responding to the changing marketplace by giving everything from consumer products to automobiles a green makeover.

At the end of the day, we need to be careful not to over-complicate the practice of being green. Being green can be simple, but the payoff of partaking in it – especially this holiday season – will be worthwhile.

Read more on Green Marketing from Founder Frank O’Brien:


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