Article Review

Pitching Mother Nature by Justin Martin (FORTUNE Small Business magazine; July/August 2008)

International trade exists since the earliest known civilizations. Further, neighbor countries have made formal and informal commercial exchange in a natural manner beginning with bartering. However, since World War II to our days, an explosive economic growth has been seen and a global competition has been established alongside with the Internet development.

This generation is witnessing the transformation of international trade driven by the immediateness of telecommunications. Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumers (B2C) trade are now effortlessly established through Internet and e-commerce, and all frontiers have been practically erased thereafter. Thus, individuals and corporations of all sizes have been enabled to easily establish global commercial transactions and managers have been forced to go deep in their knowledge of cross-boundaries marketing and operations. Consequently, global marketing became critical in corporate decisions of today.

Globalization of markets has given the customer an infinite range of options for both goods and services and some authors have referenced this condition as “divergence”. Divergence allows any user to select from a huge variety of options adjusted to any individual preference and lifestyle. Among the beneficiaries of divergence are those men and women with high sensitivity for environment protection and conservation.

According with the article “Pitching Mother Nature” written by Justin Martin, “Today’s green-minded consumers present a tremendous opportunity for any company that has an environmentally friendly product or service”. [1] This statement is true but it does not mean that it will be easy.

It is widely known that consumers would select green products ever conventional ones, ceteris paribus. [2] However, “those other things are rarely equal in the minds of consumers”. Consumers’ opportunity cost is commonly on their needs or desires side which is not the same of the environment. Therefore, a green marketing strategy is the key element to success.

Harvey Schatchter writes in his book review, The contradiction, and perils, of selling green, [6] “But green marketing is not an easy sell, because it runs into a big contradiction”, and following he cited John Grant, “Green issues and marketing can work against each other … But they aren’t always opposed”. Everything is in the information conveyed and the perception of each individual.

Green marketing strategies will depend on the characteristics of the population or target market because differences between high and low-context cultures will guide the way message should be communicated.

Justin Martin also cited Gwynne Rogers, who says, “The green market is a different game with a whole new set of guidelines”. Further, another Rogers’ quote states, “if your environmental claims aren’t accurate or clear, they could end up hurting your company”, which is coincident with a previous-mentioned opinion of Grant.

Green-minded consumers are conscious, tend to earn more, are willing to pay more, and evaluate with keen-eyes the environmental claims presented in green advertising. Thus, this information has to represent accurately the actual performance of green goods and services in order to consumers’ place any faith in them. Otherwise, it would be considered greenwashing.

“In order for consumers to trust environmental claims, advertising must reflect genuine environmental performance by companies”[3], as a whole. The green quality of products is backed by green processes. “So, consumer skepticism of green hype is an understandable reaction, especially when firms attempt to associate themselves with environmental issues without substantially improving their environmental performance or their products.” [5] In this order of ideas, green marketing is part of a holistic approach to greenness.

No matter what is the size of your company or the characteristics of the green goods sold or services rendered, a corporate commitment is crucial for the success in the long run. This corporate commitment should be followed by a resolution from the highest level of authority that must be practiced at all levels of the corporation. This document is sometimes called “Environmental Report” and fusions green practices and procedures with the profitability and sustainability of the organization. [2]

The article says, “So if you make environmental claims about your product, think green beyond your marketing”. This statement involves an analysis of the segments of your target market, the creation of a communication strategy, fostering of a corporate culture, and the consolidation of credibility and use of certifications. [2]

What knowledge was gained from the article reviewed?

My main knowledge gained from this article is that there is a niche in green marketing that is almost virgin. It is a fascinating subject to develop in our community because I have not seen specialist in green marketing in South Florida. I believe there is a huge window of opportunities in South Florida where Hispanic-origin community does not have experts capable to convey green information in Spanish.

Conclusion

Green marketing is a relatively new area that is growing faster. Green products are on demand and they require experts to convey the information required without hurting the companies. Marketing managers have to understand the green market and corporations have to live green in all aspects of their operations. Specific marketing strategies need to be selected based on the products or services but also communities need education and the company requires nurturing its credibility to prosper.

References

[1] MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2004 v46 i1 p 79(6). Choosing the right green marketing. Jill Meredith Ginsberg; Paul N. Bloom

[2] GMI 33, Spring 2001. Green Advertising. Karna, Juslin, Ahonen, et al.

[3] BusinessWeek. March 5, 2007. Marketing a Green Product. Karen Klein

[4] Business Horizons. September-October 2001. Reevaluating Green Marketing: A strategic approach. P 21 (9) Michael Jay Polonky and Phillip J Rosemberg III

[5] The contradictions and Perils of selling Green. Harvey Schacter

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