Green Marketing Not Over, Just Misdirected

May 19th, 2011 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets

Joel Makower of GreenBiz.com just declared that green marking is dead, or in his words, “Green Marketing is Over.”  To quote Mark Twain, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”  I think the same can be said of green marketing.

Here at Mind Over Markets, we’ve been saying for years that green marketing messages have not been communicated correctly and effectively right from the start.

The first task of green marketing, like all other marketing, should be an analysis of benefits. First to the consumer, and then to the planet. Too many opted for the latter, save the planet, as though you could with your cleaners and your pizzas. That never made any sense to me and it never will.

When Nissan Leaf used a polar bear hugging a man in their commercial instead of laying out the many advantages of EV’s to me and my life, when they don’t position their vehicles as personal benefit producers, when they don’t tell me what’s in it for me, then yes, green marketing is over.

When organic food isn’t positioned as better for your health, better tasting, fresher, more local and ultimately more enjoyable, no wonder it’s hard to justify the higher costs. The success of Whole Foods is probably based more on their gourmetness than on their greenness. They have the recipe right and continue to succeed.

The last time I saw a green marketing obituary it was centered on the failure of Organic Ragu Sauce. As though any organicite or foodie was going to buy Organic Ragu or Organic Heinz Ketchup.  That wasn’t a failure of green, but a failure of logic. When the largest manufacturers of caustic and corrosive cleaning solutions suddenly turns green, its no wonder that consumers scratch their heads and wonder if it’s real or just a mask.

When Kimberly Clark tells us they they’ve done “green right” instead of telling us that recycled paper is a better, saner way to make napkins and toilet paper than destroying old growth forests, no wonder we yawn and walk away.

To my mind, it’s not the failure of green marketing, but the failure of green marketers to have thought it out long enough and strategically enough to hire true green marketers and visionaries who actually understand not just the heart of green consumers, but the minds of the greater population.

Instead they wheeled out Kermit the Frog and melting icebergs. They should have been selling their products to me instead of making my purchases seem like a cause, charity, public service or a sacrifice that I have to make. By the way, you can’t actually save the planet all by yourself.

Talk about naive. At a time when people aren’t sure they can save themselves, much less the planet, is it any wonder that kind of thinking or marketing is on the endangered species list?

What’s saddest of all is that all the so called “green experts” failed in their expertness when they didn’t alert marketers that they were on thin ice right from the beginning. When they didn’t understand the balance of message, the need for benefits, and the need to tell consumers that they were not only doing what was right, but what was smart.

It really is a shame that the lemmings will watch the green hearse go by and help drive green even further off the cliff. That others will continue to not only sell, but tell things wrong and then lament the passing of one of the most significant opportunities to actually make things better for all of us.

– Irv Weinberg

Read what Jacqui Ottman says in her post “Green is Alive and Kicking”.

9 Responses to “Green Marketing Not Over, Just Misdirected”

  1. melissa lee Says:

    You know this may be strange but I never really have cared about anything being green or sustainable… I have always by accident lived like the Europeans and I just buy based on the quality and story behind the items i love… If I loved the look and felt the person behind the product I would buy it…

    xxoo
    melissa 

  2. Carolyn Parrs & Irv Weinberg Says:

    Love that Melissa. That’s the way it should be.

  3. unibet Says:

    I think the environment would love to have this style of marketing on the table of every business and strategic planner for a corporation.. thank you for sharing this one and assuring that it is still very much alive…

  4. jeannine Says:

    Happy to have found this blog via linked in, interesting angle on green marketing, one would imagine that making saving the planet your reason for being, living, buying green would be enough, but i guess in todays world world we are actually quite spiritually disconnected from our planet and peoples relationship with marketing over the years is a more personal,selfish one.

  5. Carolyn Parrs & Irv Weinberg Says:

    Thank you. We agree!

  6. Carolyn Parrs & Irv Weinberg Says:

    We couldn’t agree with you more Jeannine.

  7. Fire the Choir: Why Green Marketing Hasn't Worked and What To Do About It | Green Marketing Blog Says:

    [...] that said Green Marketing is dead. To me, that was good news. We certainly do not need another man-hugging-polar bear commercial cut loose on the airwaves. I guess marketers figured out no one buys an electric car to save [...]

  8. 3 Steps to Smarten Up Your Green Marketing | Environmental News Bits Says:

    [...] that said green marketing is dead. To me, that was good news. We certainly do not need another man-hugging-polar bear commercial cut loose on the airwaves. I guess marketers figured out no one buys an electric car to save [...]

  9. Fire the Choir: Why Green Marketing Hasn’t Worked and What To Do About It (Part 1) | Writing to Make a Difference Says:

    [...] that said Green Marketing is dead. To me, that was good news. We certainly do not need another man-hugging-polar bear commercial cut loose on the airwaves. I guess marketers figured out no one buys an electric car to save [...]

Leave a Reply