Enhancing sustainability with green marketing

By July 26, 2022 July 28th, 2022 Digital Stories

In the vast sea of marketing and advertising trends aimed at promoting commercial brands, a new trend is emerging, that of the so-called green marketing.

This kind of approach puts the environment at the center of attention, and more and more companies are using it with conviction as part of a truly sustainable strategy.

Green marketing is based on a commitment to giving back to our planet a fraction of what they have taken over time. From small to large companies, there is a growing interest in environmental issues, with the goal of doing something tangible.

There is, in fact, talk of brand activism, to indicate a willingness to put in the work to protect the ecosystem and be more sustainable.

In the case of large companies, this is not always a spontaneous choice, but is rather dictated by the consumers who are quick to blame corporations for much of the blame for climate change and pollution.

Let's try to understand what green marketing means in detail, what its benefits are, and how it is applied in practice.

The definition of green marketing

In recent years, the negative effect of human activities on nature and the environment has become one of the most hotly debated issues globally, igniting interest in the problem of overheating and of the CO2 emissions.

Customers around the world have not been indifferent to this alarm and are increasingly inclined in choosing companies devoted to sustainability. Here, then, the marketing sector has had to adapt to this new way of presenting brands.

Out of these needs came the green marketing, also referred to as ecological marketing, sustainable marketing or enviromental marketing.

The main purpose is to put in place promotional actions based on a commitment to offering environmentally sustainable and non-harmful products.

The initiative must start with each individual who should do his or her part. However, even large multinational corporations have a good share of the blame for what happens to the ecosystem and must be among the first to work to reduce the impact on natural habitats.

Communicating this idea and engaging the end consumer is now the main goal for a company's success.

Each enterprise may act differently, according to various levels of intervention. There are production activities related to the proposed services that can be performed in a more environmentally friendly and less polluting perspective.

There are also initiatives related to communication and the charity events. For example, you can organize collection days to clean beaches and parks or donations to animal and environmental protection organizations.

Instead, the more challenging and hard path for companies is the one put in place to limit harmful emissions and get to 'carbon neutrality' or become part of the B-Corp Certificate, a network of companies promoting a more environmentally friendly and green way of doing business.

Restitution and accountability: the key points of green marketing

Underlying the successful application of the green marketing concept are two important and closely related elements: restitution and accountability.

For large global giants such as Big Tech, the return means admitting that we have an active and unfortunately negative role on the pollution produced in recent decades, both in terms of natural resource management and in reference to emissions of harmful substances.

To give back means to start course correction, embracing more ethical production processes and optimizing the consumption of raw materials and energy.

The idea of restitution derives directly from that of responsibility. In fact, if giving back presupposes an admission of guilt on the part of businesses, environmental responsibility becomes the selling point for start-ups and young companies that have an innovative approach and want to aim for a green business right away.

Credibility and transparency for a winning green marketing strategy

An effective green marketing strategy must focus on the company as a whole, not just on offering green products. In this sense, the key aspect is the credibility.

Society must truly believe in what it does and not behave responsibly just for convenience or appearance. There are many ways to develop a different way of working, starting with the packaging with recyclable packaging or from donations for projects of reforestation.

Another very useful step can be the elimination of plastic from work spaces, focusing on thermal water bottles and wood or paper packages. This will educate employees themselves about a cleaner world.

Further step forward may be to pose as disseminators of the message, urging customers to respect the environment. Very interesting are the specially designed social campaigns, with in-depth content and eco-friendly testimonials.

In this regard, it is good to say that credibility also means. transparency. For this reason, the company must have demonstrable environmental certifications attesting to the containment of greenhouse gas emissions.

Green marketing and greenwashing

All these activities related to green marketing need to be implemented and communicated very carefully. Launching these kinds of initiatives half-heartedly or loosely could prove to be a boomerang for society.

The danger is to expose oneself to either fierce criticism or actual fines. Indeed, boasting phantom green certifications or claiming that packaging has a reduced plastic content when it does not, is liable to sanctions by the Antitrust Authority.

In technical language, the bad habit of bragging about false eco-sustainable strategies is called 'greenwashing', an expression that indicates precisely a facade environmentalism.

This sometimes happens with companies accused of polluting, which then magnify their efforts to protect the ecosystem.

There are companies that use the color green and the words 'eco-friendly' on packaging that is not actually 100% recyclable. This is the case of the well-known brand Saint Benedict, ordered to pay a penalty of 70,000 euros for unfair business practices.

At the center of the dispute was the green campaign launched to promote a new type of bottle with the slogan 'Less Plastic, More Nature.'

Antitrust argued that the company was unable to prove that the bottles had 30% less plastic, nor that there had been any energy savings associated with production. In a nutshell, ecological certification could not be substantiated.

So, while green marketing is essential to engage customers, resorting to incorrect or misleading communication, however, can create serious problems for the brand reputation.

The benefits of green marketing

Green marketing done properly and in compliance with the rules ensures great benefits for the enterprise. Taking for granted the benefits from a purely environmental point of view, there are also some positive economic and image returns.

People are increasingly informed about what they buy and the ethical commitment of companies. According to a 2020 survey conducted by Nielsen and Novamont, 88% of participants believe that helping to reduce pollution is one of the most important challenges for humanity.

The 75% claims that they are willing to pay more for an energy-efficient product. In addition, customers choose their favorite brands according to their green component and concrete support for the cause.

These data are confirmed by another GKF survey entitled. #WhoCaresWhoDoes., which investigated the issue of sustainability at the European level. It seems that environmentally sustainable choices are supported particularly by young people (45%), i.e., the younger generation.

Instead, when asked who can really make a difference in reducing pollution and emissions, respondents pointed to manufacturers (40%), local governments (35%) and consumers (20%).

If you are wondering which Italian companies were the greenest, it is quickly said. Just read the data reported in January 2022 by Corporate Knights Global 100 which annually compiles a ranking of the 100 most virtuous companies in the world.

This list aims to show how the application of proper green marketing has then brought real benefits in terms of turnover and reputation. Only two Italian companies appear on the list: Unicredit Spa in 59th place and Intesa San Paolo in 90th place.

Thus, it is evident how green marketing has a beneficial function on the brand, as long as you play fair and put all your eggs in the transparency, consistency, and sincere desire to preserve the planet.

Green marketing as seen by large companies

Today there are many kinds of threats to our environment, from the extinction of animal species to deforestation, from ocean pollution to global warming.

Likewise, there are different methods through which societies can contribute.

Most of the world's major brands have embraced green marketing and use the storytelling to tell the story of the production system, from the collection of raw materials to the arrival of the product in stores.

It is a great mechanism to make the company more deeply known and make it clear what values inspire the company, that is, what its mission is.

A good example of green marketing is that developed by the Swedish Ikea, whose stated goal is to focus on eco-sustainability and consumer education toward eco-friendly products.

On the official website this concept is explicitly explained and suggestions are given for making one's home more environmentally friendly.

Another excellent application of this type of marketing comes from Nespresso, a well-known coffee brand that long ago decided to make commercials that explain in a very few minutes the stories of the people who work in the countries where the processed materials are harvested.

Equally clear is the position of the White Mill, on whose portal one can read the Mill Charter: for flour from sustainable agriculture. In the document, the multinational company explains how the ingredients in its products are respectful of biodiversity and health.

Even in the field of clothing, however, examples of clothing made from environmentally friendly fabrics can be encountered.

This is the case with the brand H&M which in 2019 offered the 'Conscious Exclusive 2019' collection, in which garments are constructed from pinatex, a substitute for real leather, made from pineapple leaves and citrus and seaweed residues.

Many interesting as well are the fruitful partnerships between business giants and major environmental protection agencies. This is what the Coca-Cola, which has been working with WWF since 2012.

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