Whether we call it green marketing, ecomarketing or substainable marketing - all three terms pursue the same goal: an ecology-oriented planning and implementation of marketing activities. In this article we dive deep into the world of green marketing and look at its benefits and challenges.
It is important to note at the outset that green marketing is not limited to sustainable products or companies. There is a wider scope here. However, it is essential to promote the environmental friendliness of products and, above all, the sustainability of the production chain itself.
Green Marketing - More than self- and customer reassurance?
The topic of environmental protection has never been more topical than it is today. This is also proven by the following figures from the EY Future Consumer Index 2021:
- 53 percent of the German population see climate change as a fundamental problem (15 percent more than in the USA and 8 percent more than in the global comparison)
- 68 percent pay attention to the environmental impact of a product at least once in a while when buying it
- 30 percent of German consumers name the responsible production and consumption of products and services as one of the most important sustainability aspects (7 percent more than in the global comparison)
Sustainability and environmentally friendly products are playing an increasingly important role for european consumers. In order to remain competitive in this area, companies must open up to green marketing. And not just in the future, but preferably right away.
Economic success should therefore be combined with economic and social added value. The focus here is on authenticity and honesty. But be careful: there is a fine line between pure promises, so-called green washing, and actually living sustainability ideas.
But how do companies gain a price advantage through sustainability? Here is a brief explanation: Customers...
- ... trust a brand more when sustainability is writ large
- ... expect higher costs due to environmental aspects
- ... show a higher willingness to pay more
Sharing online resources
The term "sharing economy" refers to an "economy of sharing". Sharing online resources is primarily about sharing information, services and software. Here is a list of existing sharing services by category and type:
|Goods||Rent, lend or give as a gift||Mobile goods (automobiles, garden and sports equipment, tools and clothing)|
|Immovable property (houses, flats, garages, gardens or parking spaces)|
|Services||Mediation||Driving, repair and cleaning services|
|Software & Applications||Share||Online office applications (texts, tables, presentations, calendar, forms and drawings, chat function)|
The advantages of shared use are:
- Capacities and licences are utilised more efficiently
- Resource consumption is reduced
- Social contacts and social cohesion are strengthened
- Access to a greater quantity of services, goods and information
- Cheaper than conventional procurement channels
- Providers take a share of a trend at low cost and gain reach by expanding the sharing offer
- Services with low remuneration are offset by relatively high fees for mediation
- Sharing service providers are mostly self-employed, bear costs and risks themselves and are often worse off than employees
- Regular jobs are put at risk
Is environmentally conscious search engine optimisation more successful?
First of all, let us once again be aware of Google's mission:
"Our mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
Google focuses on the users of the search engine and their needs. The best user experience is offered when the user can solve his problem or answer his question already at the first search result. This means that only relevant and easily consumable content makes it to the top of the search results.
- Important: Don't just keep posting new content, but also regularly thin out, update and build up content in a targeted way.
- Why? Each website is given a limited crawl budget by Google (the time a bot spends indexing new or changed content on the website).
- The optimisation of the crawl budget results in a Win-win situation:
- Google gets better search results for the same amount of energy.
- Changes or new content by website operators land faster in the search index and receive better rankings.
With the help of the figures from the Google Search Console, we can illustrate the effect of environmentally conscious search engine optimisation. After we have improved the loading time of the website and optimised the content, the number of crawled pages increases by 35 to 40 percent for the same budget (point A). This means that new content is not only included in the Google index more quickly, but is also ranked higher.
Implementing sustainability correctly as a competitive advantage
Using green marketing purely as an advertising tool is ineffective from an entrepreneurial perspective. Instead, those who integrate sustainability in the value creation process and in the product itself benefit. There is also an opportunity to differentiate oneself from larger, established competitors.
How? By switching from linear to circular process definition. This means that after the initial useful life, the products are put through another cycle of use. The goal is to maintain the value of products as long as qualitatively and economically possible.
Here is a comparison of the three circular building blocks for different business models:
|Circular building blocks||Product as a Service||Sharing Economy|
|Product design||Devices made of recyclable materials and replaceable wear components (e.g. rechargeable batteries)||Hire of high quality equipment with resistant materials (e.g. construction machinery, kitchen equipment, or furniture).|
e.g. analysis of mass data
|Object recognition in images (e.g. vending machine for taking back used smartphones)||Online services for sharing a methodology (e.g. search engine optimisation).|
|Reverse logistics||Take-back containers (e.g. for defective small electrical appliances)||Partnerships for raw material extraction and recycling (e.g. using used waste materials or waste materials to be disposed of as raw materials).|
A conscious and honest environmental approach is not only in tune with the times, but also increases sales opportunities. Ecological USPs can prove to be an effective differentiator against established companies, especially for start-ups or small businesses.
However, this also requires effective marketing measures that address consumers' desire for companies that assume social and environmental responsibility.
Sustainable corporate governance - obligation or freestyle?
Sustainable corporate governance is a comprehensive approach that includes the economic, ecological and social dimensions.
- The first step is to understand the impacts of entrepreneurial action. This includes, for example, life cycle assessment, product evaluations, holistic risk management and risk assessment.
- Human rights and environmental due diligence must also be enforced. Following the catalogue of the same name from the Federal Environment Agency (for Germany), entrepreneurs should, for example, take sustainability criteria into account when selecting suppliers and business partners.
- In addition, suitable processes for implementation must be introduced and established. It is advisable to formulate one's goals, use available signposts to define and implement measures and, if necessary, use standardised system solutions.
Especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, it is advisable to pool resources and seek joint solutions. In the guide from the Öko-Institut (PFD, German), further approaches and tips can be found. Examples of ecological measures are:
|Reduce energy consumption||Conversion to energy-saving technologies (e.g. lighting, IT),|
Purchase or generation of renewable electricity or heat
|Use alternative materials||Use of recycled materials (e.g. envelopes or paper),|
Increase in material efficiency (e.g. double-sided printing with printers)
|Sustainable procurement||Selection of suppliers with regard to ecological criteria,|
Purchase of ecological and/or regional products and services
|Stimulate biodiversity||Information and awareness raising in the business network|
|Rethinking product use||Longer service life, multiple life cycles due to improved reparability and recyclability|
|Show commitment to the environment||Cooperation with environmental initiatives, donations in kind and money|
|Conserve resources on the internet||E-mail replies without history and with small file attachments,|
File sharing only via links to the original file,
Minimise memory requirements of web pages (better loading time),
Local backups instead of online backups
In the EU, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Directive has been in force for capital market-oriented companies, banks and insurance companies with 500 or more employees since December 2014. It prescribes "non-financial" reporting and proof of socially responsible and sustainable actions.
"Non-financial" refers, among other things, to activities in the area of environment and health, or value creation processes, material and information flows. In addition to the obligation, sustainability is also an extremely useful freestyle activity - and not only for start-ups. As an entrepreneur, the brand benefits on the labour market from a sustainable positioning.
According to a global sustainability study conducted by the strategy and marketing consultancy Simon, Kucher & Partners in 2021, 58 percent of the Germans surveyed consider sustainability to be a relatively to very important purchase criterion.
Since the topic of environmental impact has a strong emotional impact on customers, green marketing serves as an effective tool for differentiation. Emotions and experiences can be excellently packaged in advertising messages, but what is most important is a convincing implementation: The advertising message should not refer directly to the product, but be embedded in a true and authentic story. Don't take the obvious route, but the credible one!
Green Marketing: Your questions
Feature image: Pop Zebra