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Companies use green marketing

Published: Monday, July 28, 2008

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07

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Rodrigo Huerta

It is no secret that people are more aware than ever of the environment and the impact they have on it. With focuses on the rapidly increasing price of gasoline, climate change, and the popular move towards more organic food, businesses are beginning to capitalize on their environmentally conscious customers.

At the Mays Business School, marketing professors and researchers are watching the marketplace trends for answers on the eco-friendly bandwagon and its effect on business and consumers alike.

"The term 'go green marketing' in the retail world refers to both the back-of-the-house operations and the front-of-the-house operations of a business," said Cheryl Bridges, the director of the center for retailing studies at Mays.

"In the back-of-the-house, the company could do good things for the environment like use less fuel, less packaging or just overall reduce expenses," Bridges said.

"However, from a marketing standpoint, the company can simply tell consumers what they are doing to be more environmentally friendly."

Karen Winterich, an assistant professor of marketing, said that the concept of "going green" focuses on getting consumers to recognize how they impact the environment and this concept also applies to businesses as well.

"Businesses who put forth a green effort are generally positively received for doing the right action," Winterich said.

"But, businesses that do not participate in environmentally friendly actions stand out and are perceived more negatively from the public."

Bridges said that it remains to be seen if "go green marketing" directly benefits the business at this point. Although, she believes that the concept is becoming more and more important to customers.

"All I can see at this point is that this [go green marketing] is paying off for companies in terms of operating cost," Bridges said.

Winterich said that she is optimistic that green marketing campaigns are here to stay and not just a trend.

"It is definitely becoming the norm," Winterich said. "Over the past few years, this type of marketing has been slowly showing up here and there and companies who aren't addressing the environment are being punished by their customers."

In the meantime, consumers face numerous hurdles when trying to go green.

"There are some challenges," Bridges said. "Some companies claim that certain products are 'green' whether they are or not."

Winterich also said that it is difficult for consumers to determine if businesses are telling them the truth about green products.

Another challenge consumers face is if such environmentally friendly products, like organic foods, are a necessity or not. Bridges said that since organic foods are more expensive, consumers might not want to spend more money.

Winterich said that going green is a lifestyle change.

"Change is always difficult," Winterich said. "Whether its driving a smaller car, taking a shorter shower or buying organic food, going green is about changing your habits."

Winterich said that because everyone has a different opinion and definition on what it means to "go green," it is important for businesses to accurately inform their customers about what exactly they are doing to be environmentally friendly.

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