Green washing or green marketing: it’s up to you!

There is a growing attention from brands toward sustainable development issues – economy, environment, human resources, ethics, local communities. Why do they care more about it? It is probably because of the mega trend that has been developed for few years now among consumers: the eco-responsibility.

Nowadays, people do not only want to buy a product or service, they buy a brand. And doing so, they associate themselves with it. However, would you like to take part to negative issues as deforestation? Children labour? Unsafe working conditions? Of course not. That is why companies must show a responsible and pro-active behaviour toward these issues. And indeed, everything is about showing, and that is a quite big problem. Their philosophy, values, authenticity must fit our expectations. But we often believe what we see too easily.

hm-conscious

H&M conscious campaign

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Rana Plaza (H&M factory) breakdown due to unsafe building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
So, there comes the greenwashing system. While doing something with high negative affect to people or environment, some companies balance the situation, by organising and promoting good projects – collecting old clothes for recycling – like H&M – promoting the local production of some raw materials – like McDonald’s – and so on. But when computing is done, the real impact remains highly negative and far from the definition of sustainable. However, there are many ways to do the things right. From the eco-conception of the products to the analysis of the product life-cycle, going through a reduction of packaging, there are plenty of solutions to be more “green”. Then, a true green marketing strategy can be established and a high positive impact can occur on consumers.

If there is one thing to remember of this article, it is that there is a door opened for companies to become more sustainable and to communicate better about their actions. This could be the competitive advantage of your business tomorrow!

Source: Lesage M. (2013) Marketing durable et écoconception. Available at: http://creg.ac-versailles.fr/Marketing-durable-et-ecoconception

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15 Responses to Green washing or green marketing: it’s up to you!

  1. Hi anaellelorre! Greenwashing is really a big thing nowadays. If i think about it, mc donalds and coca-cola come immediately into my mind as they are official sponsor of the olympic games even if their food and drinks are really unhealthy!
    About green marketing, i am afraid that until companies won’t be forced by law to do some changes, these strategies won’t be taken into account because they could cost too much.

    • anaellelorre says:

      Hey ariannalosano! It’s quite sad but true when you say that maybe changes must be made at a legislation level. In today’s world, companies mainly think about short-term profit. However, even if it costs to invest in sustainable development, the return on investment is high at all levels, financial as social. So governmemnts may “push” to change mentalities in business. Actually it is already happening in France – and in other EU countries I guess – with pollution tax for companies, a control of the amount of produced waste per year, a reduction of water use and so on. If it costs more to not be sustainable, maybe companies will change their way !

  2. haenakim says:

    Hey! Green washing or Green marketing is getting hot issue currently. So it’s nice to see more information thanks to you. As you said, I hope many companies get interests in eco-friendly products and not be afraid of doing something like green marketing regardless of costs or anything.

    • anaellelorre says:

      Hi haenakim! Yes of course costs are the main barrier for companies when it comes to investment in sustainability. Profits thanks to sustainability come after a long time so it is hard to convince investors. But I hope that at least some of them will understand that it is much more a profit or cost matter.

  3. anneruok says:

    Hey anaellelorre, you have an important topic in here. I work in a shoe retailer chain myself and have noticed that our customers in are more and more aware about ethical choices in their purchases, hence, we as sales force representing the brand, are in constant need of delivering the promise of a good service quality for them. We are using eco-friendly products in our shoe-care-collection, but that is sort of like ‘green marketing’, as it has nothing to do with production or materials in shoes. I believe production and materials are good, but personally I think that if any company is really representing green values it cannot have relatively cheap products in its collection.

    • anaellelorre says:

      Hi anneruok! Thank you for your comment. That is totally true. Being sustainable, selling eco-friendly products means for the company a change in positionning. There are additional costs, but also an additional value. And that is what the buyer is looking for. So indeed, I think that a company that aims to provide eco-friendly products cannot provide cheap products at the same time. Because the goal is not to make low cost products that we can sell at low price, but high valued products that justify a higher price.

  4. Hey anaellelorre, check my post too. I wrote about sustainability in fashion and how it can work for brands to build their reputation. I think it’s really important in 2017 to be aware of the environment and brands should be making efforts to improve this, however, I also think it is important to be wary of brands who are choosing to be “green” because they want to make a difference and brands who just want to benefit financially! Great post

    • anaellelorre says:

      Hi matthewjohnwheeler! I’m going to read your post too then. Indeed that is all the problem with greenwashing. I hope that more brands will truly chose to become sustainable in the future and not only use greenwashing to build a false eco-friendly image.

  5. ackemi says:

    Hi Ana! Thank you for this eye-opening blog you posted. It is very true that such companies market that they are going for “green” environment and reducing wastes etc. but the truth is, they do not. It is very true thinking about many huge companies these days. There are many ways of reducing the wastes and increase the recycling but let us hope it will be anytime soon for them to help the environment. Who would want to buy from something you know that are damaging our environment or exploiting those who are poor right? I also wish that the governments can do something about these issues. Overall, I like your blog. Thank you!

    • anaellelorre says:

      Hi Ackemi! Thank you for your comment. There are NGOs, associations, environmental comittees, and of course governments that play a role in the implementation of sustainable development in businesses. I think that governments are the ones that have the most power for helping companies to move towards sustainability. But there is another issue that is raised with governments. There are so many lobbies, financial and political stakes that governments have not so much power in the end and that some decisions are not taken… But this is another topic!

  6. Foss says:

    Hey anaellelorre! You are totally right about this green washing. While I was reading I saw that you picked McDonald’s as an example to. What a coincidence, my blogpost is about McDonald’s and they changed for example their logo. From red and yellow to green and yellow. They even say on their website that they give back to the community. Still, it is a fastfood restaurant…This green washing system is really bad. It is lying to your customers, workers and the world because of money. I really hope we could change. What is your idea about what the first steps will be?

  7. ireneortegalegidos says:

    Hi!
    As you said “there is a door open for companies to become more sustainable” but, almost always, to achieve that, brands have to spend a great amount of money. Sadly, nowadays, the most important thing for a business is earning money and I don’t think this is going to change in an early future. I hope the impact of the real green marketing attract customers and made the brands think more carefully about this option.

  8. belenlujang says:

    Hey anaellelorre! It’s true that many companies are trying to become “green” to show that they are responsible for the environment. But, in my opinion, there are brands like McDonalds that try to mislead costumers only by changing their colour (as I read in other post) but I don’t really care which color has a brand if they don’t show they are responsible with acts. And this is different for example to H&M. As you said, they did campaigns to make people be aware about the problem.

  9. ronanfiacre says:

    Hi Annaelle ! Thank you for your blog ! Indeed green washing or green marketing is becoming more and more important and I care about this kind of subject. It’s interesting to have more info thanks to your post ! I hope brands will more take care of the environment as it is our future and I hope that more and more people will care about it. Then, the brand will have to adapt. Thanks again !

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