Green Marketing Strategy of Businesses

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Green marketing has been an important academic research topic since it came about (Coddington, 1993; Fuller, 1999; Ottman, 1994). Attention was drawn to the subject in the late 1970’s when the American Marketing Association organized the first ever workshop on ‘Ecological Marketing’ in 1975 which resulted in the first book on the subject, entitled, ‘Ecological Marketing’ by Henion and Kinnear in 1976. The first definition of ‘green marketing’ was according to Henion (1976); “the implementation of marketing programs directed at the environmentally conscious market segment” (Banerjee, 1999, p.18). Peattie and Crane (2005) claims that despite the early development, it was only in the late 1980’s that the idea of green marketing actually made an appearance, because of the consumers’ growing interest in green products, increased awareness and willingness to pay for green features. Henion’s (1976) definition of green marketing has evolving and many more definitions of green marketing have arisen throughout the years. One of the latter definitions is Fuller’s (1999, p. 4): The process of planning, implementing, and controlling the development, pricing, promotion, and distribution of products in a manner that satisfies the following three criteria: (1) customer needs are met, (2) organizational goals are attained, and (3) the process is compatible with ecosystems. The first indication of consumer interest in green products came through Vandermerwe and Oliff‟s (1990) survey. This stated that more than 92% of European multinationals claimed to have changed their products in response to green concerns and 85% claimed to have changed their product systems (Peattie & Crane, 2005). Green product introductions increased by more than double to 11.4% of all new household products in the USA between 1989 and 1990, and continued to rise to 13.4% in 1991 (ibid.). However, this optimistic start to the 1990’s was not sustained (Peattie & Crane, 2005. A report conducted by Mintel in 1995, showed only a very slight increase in green consumers since 1990, and showed a significant gap between concern and actual purchasing (ibid.). This can be attributed to the fact that consumers do not want to compromise on price, quality or convenience when conducting a ‘green’ purchase (D‟Souza et al., 2006). The frequency and prominence of green claims was also found to be in decline (Peattie & Crane, 2005). So instead of the “green revolution” in marketing forecasted for the 1990s, companies became more cautious about launching environmentally-based communications campaigns for fear of being accused of “greenwashing” (ibid). This is when a company hides the true effect of its products or actions on the environment, by making it seem as though the company is very concerned about the environment (Greenwashing, 2009). One challenge green marketers -- old and new -- are likely to face as green products and messages become more common is confusion in the marketplace. "Consumers do not really understand a lot about these issues, and there's a lot of confusion out there," says Jacquelyn Ottman (founder of J. Ottman Consulting and author of "Green Marketing: Opportunity for Innovation"). Marketers sometimes take advantage of this confusion, and purposely make false or exaggerated "green" claims. Critics refer to this practice as "green washing". Even though this revolution did not occur as predicted, the interest in the topic has not died down. Grant (2007, pp. 20-24) claims that green marketing is at a tipping point and that what we do next will decide if the topic continues to develop and gain momentum. The popularity of such marketing approach and its effectiveness is hotly debated. Supporters claim that environmental appeals are actually growing in number–the Energy Star label, for example, now appears on 11,000 different companies' models in 38 product categories, from washing machines and light bulbs to skyscrapers and...
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