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Marketing Green Initiatives: Companies Often Miss the Eco Message

BY Anna Hardy - October, 10 2017
E-Commerce .

One of the factors that make marketing such an exciting field is that consumers are often unpredictable. Regardless of the amount of research and demographics or historical perspectives a marketing department can compile, the effectiveness of a marketing campaign is dependent on the reaction of the consumer.

Today the marketing message may hit the target. Tomorrow the consumer changes their way of thinking and the same message has now been rendered useless.

With the eco initiative proven to be the one of the hardest consumer markets to read, developing marketing messages has become a challenge.

Eco Light Bulb

Strategies for the Green Economy by Joel Makower, (McGraw Hill), has a chapter called “How Many Green Marketers Does It Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?” where he shares the marketing challenges of the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL).

According to Makower, transitioning to the fluorescent energy savers makes a big eco difference. Consumer lighting accounts for 22% of the electricity produced in the U.S. Yet, the light bulbs have not made it into 95% of U.S. homes. The CFLs have been available since 1978 when Phillips began producing and selling CFLs under the name, Earth Light.

Consumers were not attracted. Makower relates the research from Philips showing that consumers really want value first and saving the Earth comes in second. So, Phillips changed the name of the CFL to Marathon Bulb.

The marketing message was save money on lighting versus save the Earth by saving energy. Consumers liked the fact that they could buy the CFLs and not have to replace the bulb for weeks or months.

Eco Marketing Messages

Consumers responded to the name change. Sales for CFLs went from nothing to 12%. After using numerous marketing strategies and having major competitors such as General Electric enter the CFL market, there are still 95% of households that have ignored this one easy to implement, cost-saving eco practice.

The messages have included:

  • Save the Earth
  • Conserve Energy
  • Longer lasting
  • Save money on electricity
  • Simple Switch
  • Start a movement

According to Makower, Oprah Winfrey, Wal-Mart, Al Gore, and Leonardo DiCaprio have touted the benefits of the CFL but still consumers have not responded as well as expected.

Finding the Consumer

Marketing the green message has yet to find the consumer’s emotional side like so many messages that have come before such as:

  • Personal computers in every household
  • Cell phones carried by every household member for safety measures of course
  • Google it or Google everything
  • The need to carry thousands of songs in one’s pocket so that they can be listened to during those boring times when flying or sitting in the doctor’s office or studying for a test
  • Blogging or micro-blogging to share thoughts and tell everyone what is happening every minute of every day.

Eco is Important

Makower suggests that the green messages have to have “CRED” – Credibility, Relevance, Effective Message, and Differentiation.

To find CRED, a company can ask three questions also developed by Makeower:

  1. What does the company know about its green efforts?
  2. What is the company doing for the green movement?
  3. What are marketers and PR saying about the company’s green efforts?

It is a challenge for marketers to find the green message that will resonate with the consumer.

The eco message is vital. Most consumers seem ready to listen. Marketers and best web designers in Traverse City are working to meet the challenge and someday it will all come together – hopefully sooner than later.

BY Anna Hardy

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