Green Marketing

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An Introduction To Green Marketing

INTRODUCTION

Although environmental issues influence all human activities, few academic disciplines have integrated green issues into their literature. This is especially true of marketing. As society becomes more concerned with the natural environment, businesses have begun to modify their behavior in an attempt to address society's "new" concerns. Some businesses have been quick to accept concepts like environmental management systems and waste minimization, and have integrated environmental issues into all organizational activities. Some evidence of this is the development of journals such as "Business Strategy and the Environment" and "Greener Management International," which are specifically designed to disseminate research relating to business' environmental behavior.

One business area where environmental issues have received a great deal of discussion in the popular and professional press is marketing. Terms like "Green Marketing" and "Environmental Marketing" appear frequently in the popular press. Many governments around the world have become so concerned about green marketing activities that they have attempted to regulate them (Polonsky 1994a). For example, in the United States (US) the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Attorneys-General have developed extensive documents examining green marketing issues [FTC 1991, NAAG 1990]. One of the biggest problems with the green marketing area is that there has been little attempt to academically examine environmental or green marketing. While some literature does exist [Carlson, Grove and Kangun 1993, Davis 1992, Davis 1993], it comes from divergent perspectives.

This paper will attempt 1) to introduce the terms and concepts of green marketing; 2) briefly discuss why going green is important; 3) examine some of the reason that organizations are adopting a green marketing philosophy; and 4) mention some of the problems with green marketing.

WHAT IS GREEN MARKETING

Unfortunately, a majority of people believe that green marketing refers solely to the promotion or advertising of products with environmental characteristics. Terms like Phosphate Free, Recyclable, Refillable, Ozone Friendly, and Environmentally Friendly are some of the things consumers most often associate with green marketing. While these terms are green marketing claims, in general green marketing is a much broader concept, one that can be applied to consumer goods, industrial goods and even services. For example, around the world there are resorts that are beginning to promote themselves as "ecotourist" facilities, i.e., facilities that "specialize" in experiencing nature or operating in a fashion that minimizes their environmental impact [May 1991, Ingram and Durst 1989, Troumbis 1991].

Thus green marketing incorporates a broad range of activities, including product modification, changes to the production process, packaging changes, as well as modifying advertising. Yet defining green marketing is not a simple task. Indeed the terminology used in this area has varied, it includes: Green Marketing, Environmental Marketing and Ecological Marketing. While green marketing came into prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was first discussed much earlier. The American Marketing Association (AMA) held

the first workshop on "Ecological Marketing" in 1975. The proceedings of this workshop resulted in one of the first books on green marketing entitled "Ecological Marketing" [Henion and Kinnear 1976a]. Since that time a number of other books on the topic have been published [Charter 1992, Coddington 1993, Ottman 1993].

The AMA workshop attempted to bring together academics, practitioners, and public policy makers to examine marketing's impact on the natural environment. At this workshop ecological marketing was defined as:

the study of the positive and negative aspects of marketing activities on pollution,...
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