In the endless pursuit of happiness, our Earth has become a value proposition

Our Earth is a value proposition. What does your business value?

Consumers are realising the impact their purchases are having on Earth’s ecosystems and ultimately their health and wellbeing. Their requirement for product value and quality is reflecting a new ‘consumer status currency’ (product value and benefits sought by average consumers). Environmentally responsible business is no longer the feel good notion of a savvy manager, it makes business sense and consumers are demanding it.

Adopting a green marketing strategy represents the ideal path for businesses to maximise the benefits of corporate sustainability goals, securing their position as a player in minds of rapidly growing global green target markets.

Consumers are subject to ubiquitous media messages by brands, heralding as their value offering, social acceptance, status and happiness. The hidden compromise however is that the messages ignore the associated environmental impacts of the purchases. Whether this is intended deceit or lack of awareness, it is contributing to the lowest recorded trust in advertising messages. It would be hard to find a business or consumer unaffected by the impacts of the freak weather incidents associated with climate change. As consumers are beginning to realise that the messages of happiness and quality of life, is a misrepresentation of in the value they seek.

Rarely is an organisation born with embedded commitment to sustainability. There is a transition process, which requires senior leadership, business model innovation, strategic greening and stakeholder collaboration, so as to create value from sustainable initiatives.

 

Eight reasons to support green thinking in your organisation:

1. A report by MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group, which surveyed 2600 executives reported that the extent to which a company incorporates sustainability concerns into its business model often correlates with its increase in profit.

2. Concern for the environment is at an all time high. People are accepting climate change and the associated freak weather events that we’ve come to expect. Consumers are no longer satisfied with the environmental and ethical compromises, associated with buying low quality, cheap products from production markets with dubious ethics.

3. Corporate environmental responsibility and company reputation rate highly in consumers decision making process. There is a strong association between the perception of a company’s ethical and environmental performance and brand value. Consumers are distancing themselves from businesses whose focus is on short-term profit maximisation.

4. A sustainable approach to product life cycles and production processes allows innovative businesses to achieve eco-efficiencies, higher market share, and build a sustainable competitive advantage.

5. Organisations that embrace sustainable business practices report improved measures of brand and organisational value such as; organisational performance; staff retention, less sick leave, recognition as ‘Employer of Choice’ and improved staff morale.

6. Adhering to sustainability standards opens doors to new markets and inclusion in sustainable supply chains. International standards in environmental reporting endorse relationships only with other sustainable businesses.

7. By ensuring consumers are provided with reliable product claims relating to quality, endorsing this with eco-labelling and reputable third party certification they are more likely to trust the organisation’s message and become loyal customers.

8. Risk management – securing sustainable resources, renewable energy sources and production methods avoids the risks associated with the increasing costs of power and scarcity of resources. Sustainable business operations also manage the costs of regulatory changes and carbon pricing schemes.

 

Green marketing is creating consumer value in a way that preserves the environment through all aspects of creating, communicating and delivering products to the market. It uses green oriented brand strategies to target consumers and links these strategies with the business goals. The aim is to demonstrate and deliver environmentally and socially sustainable initiatives throughout their operations, production processes, product life cycles, measurement and communications.

Therefore a critical component of the marketing strategy is an understanding of quality and value in terms of green consumer expectations’. These terms go beyond price, performance and convenience. They include ethical and environmental aspects of production, packaging, working conditions, distance to market and supporting local economies.

Globally organisations are moving with the trend of environmentally sustainable business.  It is hardly surprising that leading companies like Apple, Nike, are ramping up their sustainability efforts, given encouraging research outcomes in the area.

A recent Boston Consulting Group report stated, that since the GFC, a new consumer status currency (the priorities and values of average consumers) has evolved. Wasteful extravagance has taken a back seat to brands that convey social awareness, environmental stewardship, and healthy lifestyle. Buying fewer (sometimes more expensive) products in favour reputable brands and better quality, is trending strongly. Millennials continue to place importance on brands that offer social value rather than conspicuous consumption of brands that are simply more expensive. These markets of 18-34 year olds are moving into stages of life where they are accessing higher incomes and control over spending, making them an important focal point for market strategists.

The research also showed that Chinese consumers intend to spend three times more in the coming year than those in the US, Japan, and the major European markets.

The Chinese consumer also displays a new currency status, which sees them buying fewer but higher quality items. They too are moving away from over-priced luxury brands and are leaning towards brands with good environmental and ethical reputations and products, which are naturally sourced and healthy.

The evidence is clear, green is mainstream and as consumers adjust their product outcome priorities, many innovative organisations are realising that they need to understand and embrace sustainable business practices to maintain a competitive advantage. Green marketing is essential for a smooth transition to sustainable business and recognition as a responsible brand.

 

Bridget James
BY Bridget James ON 13 May 2014
Bridget is an environmental consultant and director of Think Green Marketing (thinkgreenmarketing.com.au)