If your business promotes or creates green products and services, green marketing is part of your everyday life. But there are some common problems that occur specifically for businesses which are trying to go green and get their customers to do so as well. As you’re putting together your marketing plan, it’s worth your while to understand these green marketing issues so that you can overcome them.

Today, Daniela Baker, small business blogger at CreditDonkey.com shares with us 5 common green marketing challenges and how to overcome them.

1. Green products are everywhere

Probably the biggest issue facing green marketers these days is that green products are everywhere. Right now, green businesses are going along with Kermit the Frog in finding that it’s not easy being green. With more and more products on the market, it’s become more difficult for marketers to carve out a name for themselves in the world of green products.

Solution: Carving out a niche for yourself in the green business is just the same as carving out a niche in conventional products. In a market that’s flooded with great products, make sure yours is the best. Always strive for brand recognition, since this, more than anything else, will draw more customers to your business.

2. Green can be associated with lower quality

Credit: CommunityScope R & D's http://www.flickr.com/photos/36807214@N07/

While it’s no longer true, it used to be the case that many green products were lower quality. This is because many of the environmentally harmful elements of certain products are the ones that give them their recognizable qualities. These days, green product developers are getting savvy at creating products that stand up very well to consumer expectations.

Solution: Be the best. Give your potential customers opportunities to try your product or service, and explain exactly what makes it green but still high quality. Once you get a few mainstream customers on board, word will spread that your product is both high quality and environmentally friendly.

3. Green isn’t enough of a motivating factor in itself
There’s only a certain small subset of the consumer population for whom “greenness” is motivating enough to buy products and services. Ironically, consumers in that super-eco-friendly subset tend to cut back on their consumption across the board, which makes them a less than ideal target market. But for the mainstream consumer, green isn’t quite enough to motivate them to buy a product or service.

Solution: Don’t just play up your product’s greenness. Instead, let consumers know how it can save them money (while being green) or how it can be more convenient for them (while being green) or how they can feel good about purchasing it (because it’s green). As with traditional marketing, you want to make sure the consumer knows all the various ways that your product or service can positively impact their life.

4. Green can seem fishy to consumers on the lookout for “greenwashing”
Greenwashing is a big topic these days in the news, and recently the Federal Trade Commission has even taken companies to court for greenwashing. Basically, greenwashing occurs when companies make blatantly untrue green-related claims about their products or services. For instance, in 2009, Kmart and Tender were charged with making unsubstantiated claims about how their moist wipes, towels, and plates were biodegradable.

Solution: Only make green claims that you can substantiate, and then substantiate those claims. Be very specific about how your products or services are green, and be specific about which parts are green (the ingredients, the packaging, the manufacturing process, etc.). Always make sure you substantiate any claims of greenness on your packaging, brochures, and company website.

5. Green is easy to overstate
Sometimes companies are less likely to truly greenwash their products, but they may, with good intentions and the overzealousness of a marketer, overstate the greenness of their products. Broad, non-specific language about the greenness of your products and services is a huge no-no, as it can land you with greenwashing claims or, at the very least, make consumer skeptical about what you’re saying.

Solution: The solution here is to be very, very careful and specific about your language when marketing in the world of green products. Take a page from the book of the popular company, Burt’s Bees. Their products tell consumers exactly how much of the product is natural – down to the tenth of a percent.

Marketing in the World of Green
In a green world, it’s important to take careful steps to market yourself not only effectively but also properly. These things go hand-in-hand, as a single accusation of greenwashing against your company could result in serious long-term consequences and lack of consumer trust.
When setting out your marketing plan, spare no expense to get the language right. Even if you have to pull out one of your best business credit cards to foot the bill for a specialist to come talk to your marketing team about exactly what each green-related term means, it will be worth it. (Do you know the difference between “natural” and “organic”? You should.)
Green marketing is a tough world because of an overflow of green products, but knowing what challenges you face in this world will help you make better marketing decisions and win over more customers.

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One Response to Five Common Green Marketing Challenges and How to Overcome Them

  1. […] of the critical axioms of green marketing is to walk the walk. It’s critical, then, as a sustainable business strategy, that the […]

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