I’d say yes. Right now, its still tough to be green. I mean, as in its tough to really define what being green is all about. The world of marketing is no exception. Like all things eco-friendly, green marketing is hard to wrap your brain around. What does it mean? Who determines what is green, what shade of green is it, or is it really all just green washing?
To answer these and other questions I visited the site of www.Business.gov, the official business link to the U.S. government. They have a whole section of their website dedicated to helping companies figure out if they or their products are green, and/or how to make them green. You can find a boatload of links on greening your products, obtaining green certifications, advertising regulations, labeling, and research. It’s a bonanza of how to market your company’s products as ‘green’.
Next, I checked out specific green rules of marketing engagement at Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims. This is where marketers can find out if their messaging claims are too far fetched or right on target. Gone are the days when you could say just about anything about a product, whether it was true or not, and get away with it. Thank goodness. The Guides define what is legitimate to claim about the product, its environmental impact, its packaging, and how it compares itself to rivals. The guides keep the truth in ‘truth in advertising’.
The Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims also help define just what shade of green you are and how to represent yourself. For instance, maybe the product is traditionally manufactured, but the packaging is from recycled materials, or the product itself is made from 100% recycled materials. Either way, you’ll find out just how to represent this by referring to the guidelines.
If it still seem a bit fuzzy, don’t dispair, Eco-friendly marketing groups and resources are also popping up all over the place to support marketers interested in learning more. Here’s a short list of some that I came across that seemed pretty useful.
- Sustainable Marketing
- Green Business Association
- The Good and Green 2009 Marketing Conference
- The Green Marketing Manifesto
- Greenpeace’s Greenwashing website
- CorpWatch: A Brief History of Greenwashing
You’ll notice that the last two items on the list directly discuss ‘greenwashing‘, the less than honest representation of a company or product as eco-friendly, without any substantial support for the claim. As the wave of eco-friendly mania grows, stretching the green truth is becoming more widespread. Don’t be tempted to jump on that bandwagon. In fact, read about The Seven Sins of Greenwashing, which may help you see some common ways that greenwashing may happen, even inadvertently.
With so much discussion and debate, it’s hard finding footing in a rapidly changing eco-friendly environment. One thing is for sure, the trend toward incorporating some level of green is on the rise. Consumers are asking for it, and companies, either motivated by greed or genuine eco-concerns, are finding ways to claim a piece of the green market.
How do you or your clients fit into the green marketing arena? Please leave a comment, I’d love to learn how people are negotiating these challenging issues.