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Green Marketing - an Introduction

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Essay title: Green Marketing - an Introduction

Green Marketing - An Introduction

Due to factors such as increased media coverage, increased awareness of environmental issues, raising pressure form environmental groups, stringent legislation and major industrial disasters (McIntosh, 1991; Butler, 1990; Tapon and Leighton, 1991; Charter, 1992; Wagner, 1997) the environment has become a mainstream issue and consequentially consumers are more concerned about their habits and the effect that these have on the environment. (Krause, 1993). According to Coddington, 1993; Davis, 1993; McDougall, 1993; Ottman, 1992a; The Roper Organization, 1990 there is evidence to suggest that consumers are increasingly choosing and avoiding products based on their environmental impact. Many organisations have responded to these changing consumer preferences through the introduction of green products. (Carson and Fyfe, 1992).

What is Green Marketing and what are Green Products?

There is a common perception among the general population that the term green marketing refers only to advertising or promoting products that possess environmental characteristics. People associate terms such as recyclable with green marketing. Green marketing, while incorporating these claims, is a broader concept. It includes not only altering the advertising of a product but also a variety of activities such as altering production processes, changing packaging and modifying products. (Polonsky, 1994)

Polonsky (1994) defines green marketing as: “…. all activities designed to generate and facilitate any exchanges intended to satisfy human needs or wants, such that the satisfaction of these needs and wants occurs, with minimal detrimental impact on the natural environment.” (Polonsky, 1994b)

An important facet of this definition is that it recognises that human consumption, by nature, derogates the natural environment and it should be the aim of green marketing to “minimise environmental harm, not necessarily eliminate it” (Polonsky, 1994, pp 2)

Ottman, p.89 continues from this point saying that no product is completely green. They all use “energy and natural resources; create waste and pollution during the production process; use fossil fuel for transportation of raw materials and final product to retail; and … contribute solid waste with the disposal of packaging and eventually the product itself” Therefore green products are those that have less impact on the environment.

Murphy and Commiskey, 2004, pp. 2 says, “Defining products as green or environmentally friendly becomes increasingly difficult given the various uses, locations, and categories.” They use an example of a plastic bag that claims to be biodegradable. This claim is true when the plastic bag is exposed to sunlight. However, it will never decompose at the bottom of a landfill with no sun exposure. “Thus, not all environmental claims or benefits can be realized across a broad spectrum of consumer products.” (Murphy and Commiskey, 2004, pp. 2)

How a product is used will also determine its environmental impact. For example, if a ceramic mug is not used over 1000 times, the energy it takes to make the mug does not give good reason for its reputed environmental preference over polystyrene. (Ottman, p. 90)

It can be seen form the above that the term Green marketing is generally misconstrued. It not only refers to the advertisement of Green products but also to changing production processes, packaging etc to ensure that the least environmental harm is caused. A further area that causes confusion is how to define a green product. What is considered to be an environmentally friendly product in one situation may not be in every situation. Further complicating the issue is that no product is completely “Green”. All products cause environmental harm is some way. Therefore it is concluded that Green products are the ones that do the least environmental harm.

The History and Evolution of Green Marketing.

According to Murphy and Commiskey (2004), green marketing opportunities are motivated by the biggest demographic group in American history. The baby boom population represent one third of the American population and this demographic drives green marketing. In the 1960’s and 1970’s they were the leaders of the activist movement focused on anti-war, anti-corporation and pro-environmental causes.

This movement impacted greatly on public policy in America and abroad and culminated in the establishment of the EPA in 1970. (Murphy and Commiskey, 2004)

These changes forced organisations to acknowledge and reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment and led to strict regulations being enforced to clean up waste

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