The essence of environmental marketing
The so-called environmental marketing (its other names: “green” or eco-marketing) is aimed at the promotion of goods, the production, use, and disposal of which cause minimal damage to the environment. The main task of environmental marketing is the formation of a market for environmental goods to resolve the contradictions between economic development and the need to preserve and improve the quality of the environment.
The target audience in this case are people who consider it their duty (and everyone’s duty) to care about the ecology of the planet. Therefore, companies use such methods and means to promote their products, which can orient this target audience to purchase their brand.
It is worth noting the critical role that environmental marketing plays in changing consumer attitudes. It contributes to the development of new directions in the production of products and the solution of specific problems associated with environmental pollution.
In considering the relationship between mankind and the environment, it is necessary to focus on the possibility of balancing the resources of consumption and the possibilities of the biosphere. For this purpose, it is important to know how many resources the biosphere can give us without harming our existence and how much we take from it.
Rapid economic growth requires a constant increase in the use of resources for production and energy generation, while the constant increase in waste requires more and more space to dispose of it and the biosphere’s resources to fix it (in the case of carbon dioxide emissions, for example).
Nevertheless, there is still no unified view on the concept of “green” marketing and its essence. Some scientists consider it to be an integral part of the management activity, focused on the market satisfaction of customer demand, which does not provoke the deterioration of the ecological state of the planet, and at the same time is part of a healthy way of life.
Another part of the representatives of science suggests that the direction of ecological marketing should focus on the promotion of those products that need a minimum of natural resources for their production (for example, through the use of recycled materials), as well as virtually no harm to the ecology of our planet throughout the life cycle, including waste disposal.
Some believe that the main task of ecological marketing is to study consumer demand, oriented toward the environment, and adapt the company’s activities accordingly to this demand. In this case, the prerequisite is the absence of damage to the surrounding ecosystems by the products produced.
Thus, in general, ecological marketing is aimed not only at increasing the popularity of environmental products among the population, but also at the preservation, and protection of the environment from hazardous waste, and the creation of highly environmentally friendly industries.
Stages of development of ecological marketing
A new stage in the development of ecological marketing began in 2006-2007 in connection with the growth of citizens’ motivation for ecological consumption (actions of an individual, group of people, and the population as a whole associated with the consumption of goods and services causing the least harm to the environment at all stages of the life cycle), regardless of what was its motive – concern about their health, financial motivation, fashion, or concern about environmental issues.
The main reasons for greening a business are to create a positive image in the eyes of consumers, shareholders, and investors, and to save material and energy resources. 54% of top managers named the opportunity to build a positive corporate reputation as the main incentive for green projects. Environmentally oriented changes in the production process are usually implemented by reducing the consumption of materials and energy per unit of product and accompanied by cost savings.
The ability to effectively address environmental issues affects not only the company’s customers’ trust but also their loyalty.
The main concepts of organic marketing – meeting consumer demand for organic products and promoting sales of organic raw materials and products. Two main components can be distinguished in eco-marketing: eco-products and eco-needs. At the same time, the category of eco-needs implies the provision of environmental safety as one of the main demands of consumers.
The category of eco-commodities requires that the products produced should be economical (few resources were spent on its production), safe (in terms of human health and protection of nature), and environmentally friendly (not destructive to the environment and useful for human health).
It should be noted that environmental goods (both products and services) are mostly new to domestic producers, i.e., innovative. Since there is a demand for them, and it is increasing, it would be unwise not to take advantage of this provision. According to the marketing concept, the search for ideas for new products, including environmental ones, should be based primarily on the results of the analysis of consumer needs and demands. However, a certain specificity of market research is inherent in the search for innovative ideas.
In terms of environmental friendliness, products can be either neutral (not destructive to the environment throughout their life cycle) or environmentally friendly – that is, beneficial to the environment.
It is accepted to distinguish three stages in the development of ecological marketing:
- The first stage began in the sixties of the 20th century and continued in the seventies. During this period, national legislation was developed at the international level, and the issues of financing the ongoing eco-activities were solved.
- The second phase lasted for the next 20 years: during the eighties and nineties. During this period, global security within the whole planet came first in the environmental field.
- The third phase, which began at the end of the 20th century, continues to the present. Its main aim is to bring different countries together to solve ecological problems related to agricultural, water, energy, and biological system protection commitments.
To date, “green” marketing is largely based on the responsible attitude to the environment of the heads of enterprises and the environmental policy pursued by them. Public access to information about the safety of technological processes used in production is of great importance. The state is expected to increase its environmental control and other measures in the future:
- environmental insurance;
- environmental audit;
- ecological reporting;
- participation in financing eco-measures.
The basic idea is to move from purely commercial goals of business existence to environmental and social goals. This happens gradually: from basic compliance through proactive action to innovation and transformation. Ways of shaping the environmental responsibility of business, in particular, include environmental policy and eco-labeling.
Environmental policy is a statement by a company or organization of its intentions and principles related to its overall environmental performance, which serves as the basis for both action and the setting of environmental targets and targets. Some companies issue an annual environmental report, conduct tours, hold press conferences for interested persons and organizations, and publish booklets that reflect the company’s environmental policy and actions to implement it.
The company receives the following economic benefits from the implementation of the environmental policy:
- creating and strengthening a favorable image of the company based on environmental responsibility;
- attracting investors’ attention;
- opportunity to introduce new (environmentally friendly) products to the market;
- additional grounds for obtaining advantages and privileges in investments, especially public investments;
- additional opportunities to influence consumers and increase the competitiveness of products and services;
- increased brand value through demonstration of environmental care;
- new opportunities for more effective marketing and advertising;
- attracting the attention of international organizations and the international community to the enterprise;
- membership in international environmental business unions;
- additional opportunities for developing relations with business partners abroad;
- the advantages of territorial and national environmental leadership;
- grounds for increasing the shareholder value of the enterprise.
Ecolabeling – a set of information of ecological nature about a product, process, or service, which is part of their labeling and (or) accompanying documentation. Ecolabel serves as a tool for informing about the environmental features of products and processes of their development, production, and use. Eco-labeling is a sign of environmental friendliness, not a sign of quality or safety, although these aspects are also taken into account.
The development of sustainability criteria, in close cooperation with all stakeholders, takes into account the entire life cycle of a product, i.e., these criteria are comprehensive and are not limited to the characteristics of the product itself. Eco-labeling serves as a means for businesses to market environmentally friendly products.
How the environmental marketing model is implemented in business
Many of today’s large organizations are socially responsible and civic-minded concerning environmental issues. Such corporations are not only initiators of individual eco-measures in their own businesses. They call for the systematization and integration of different aspects of environmental policy into a single eco-marketing system, which represents a modern business model.
The chances for the successful development of this model in the long term are very high. Its main idea is an effective combination of several marketing tools at once:
- the use of a well-developed public relations system;
- conducting PR events on ecological topics;
- Increasing the loyal audience through the direct care of the company about the environment (for example, selling products in eco-packaging);
- participation as a sponsor in environmental events, support of social projects aimed at environmental protection;
- implementation of innovative technologies to make production environmentally safe and waste-free;
- reorientation of the company’s activities towards the production of products that do not harm natural resources or human health, and use only recyclable components;
- Application of high production standards, fully compliant with the adopted regulations on the use of natural resources without detriment to the environment.
It is traditionally believed that business exists only for the sake of income, and that any investment in greening is costly. This used to be the case, but now things are changing. This is happening under the influence of consumers, who have become well-versed in the environmental activities of companies, under the influence of the government, and non-governmental organizations. In addition, business plays an important social role in society, not only to create a favorable image (which is also important) but also to have grounds for development in the long term.