Jacquie Ottman's
Green Marketing Blog

Green Marketing. Not Dead, Just Misdirected.

Some pundits declare that green marketing is dead.  To quote Mark Twain, ” the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” I think the same can be said of green marketing.

Here at Mind Over Markets we’ve been saying for years that green marketing messages have not been communicated correctly right from the start. 

The first task of green marketing, like all other marketing, should have been an analysis of benefits. First to the consumer and then to the planet. Too many opted for the first instinct, save the planet, as though you could with your cleaners and your pizza’s.  That never made any sense to us and it never will.

When Nissan Leafs use a polar bear hugging a consumer instead of laying out the many advantages of EV’s to me and my life, when they don’t position their vehicles as personal benefit producers, when they don’t tell me what’s in it for me, then yes green marketing is dead.

When organic food isn’t positioned as better for your health, better tasting, fresher, more local and ultimately more enjoyable no wonder its hard to justify the higher costs.  The success of Whole Foods is probably based more on their gourmetness than on their greeness.  They got the recipe right. And they continue to succeed

The last time I saw a green marketing obituary it was centered on the failure of Organic Ragu Sauce.  As though any organicite or foodie was going to buy Organic Ragu or Organic Heinz Ketchup.  That wasn’t a failure of green but a failure of logic.

When the largest manufacturers of caustic and corrosive cleaning solutions suddenly turns green its no wonder that consumers scratch their heads and wonder if it’s real or just a mask.

When Kimberly Clark tell us they they’ve done “green right” instead of telling us that recycled paper is a better, saner way to make napkins and toilet paper than destroying old growth forests no wonder we yawn and walk away.

Failure of Green Marketers
To my mind, its not the failure of green marketing but the failure of green marketers to have thought it out long enough and strategically enough to hire true green visionaries who actually understand not just the heart of green consumers but the minds of the greater population.

They wheeled out Kermit the Frog and melting icebergs. They should have been selling their products to me instead of making my purchases seem like a cause or charity or public service or a sacrifice that I have to make.  By the way, you can’t actually save the planet all by yourself.

Talk about naive.  At a time when people aren’t sure they can save themselves much less the planet is it any wonder that kind of thinking or marketing is on the endangered species list?

What’s saddest of all is that all the so called green experts failed in their expertness when they didn’t alert marketers that they were on thin ice right from the beginning. When they didn’t understand the balance of message, the need for benefits, the need to tell consumers that they were not only doing what was right but what was smart.

It really is a shame that the lemmings will watch the green hearse go by and help drive green even further off the cliff.  That companies like Seventh Generation will continue to talk about 140 years into the future instead of the here and now.  That others will continue to not only sell but tell things wrong and then lament the passing of one of the most significant opportunities to actually make things better for all of us.

It’s not too late, it’s just too bad.

Submitted by guest blogger Irv Weinberg, co-founder and principal, Mind Over Markets


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