The more mainstream “going green” becomes, the harder it gets for eco-friendly businesses to market their products. And with more companies adopting more energy-efficient models and more environmentally-responsible materials, the window to stand out with your green marketing is as small as the Toyota Prius.
As being “green” becomes a standard across the board, here are a few marketing tips for staying relevant.
Be Green From Top to Bottom. Just having a green message and a green product isn’t enough. You have to continue through all the way to the packaging.
“Carry the green opportunity through to the packaging,” says Eric Stein, Brand Bodyguard at Witness, a branding and marketing company geared specifically toward green projects. “Come up with a unique packaging, which will also be overall a cheaper packaging. That will garner loyalty. Not doing so is an opportunity for a huge let down by the consumer looking for something consistent from the online experience to the shelf.” You want to reinforce the brand at any opportunity open in the space.
Think more about what people care about and the crossover. Many consumers prioritize the economy, war, employment, healthcare, and gas prices over the environment. With the understanding that people aren’t as devoted to the environment as to other topics, get a feel for what issues within the green agenda have cross-appeal, and package your message in that context.
Show your brand's passion for green. When you can create passion in a brand, and especially a green one, your customers feel it and adopt that attitude. This tendency paves the pay for viral marketing success.
Stein likes to use the T-shirt test to determine the consumer success of a brand’s passion: “How many people will wear the lifestyle the brand promotes on a T-shirt? Does it promote a lifestyle people want to be a part
Avoid green fatigue and stop using the trite “green” stock images of yesteryear. Few green businesses set themselves apart from others with their imagery, but rather stick to the same safe iconography and language. (Note to the Toyota Prius: Lay off the baby and daisy pictures. Everyone else: those digitally altered environmental Armageddon shots quite don’t nail what it means to be green either.)
“The green experience is a Sea of Sameness,” says Stein. “[Companies have] been doing it the same way for twenty years now. You see two shades of green and a leaf or flower embellishment. That’s all that the green space seems to say about their brands.”
“I find there are a lot of green products that don’t feel green,” Stein continues. “If green is the new black, it should behave accordingly. Both are avant-garde and trend forward, but being green doesn’t consistently have same aesthetics that we associate with black, like couture and high-end design.” Your eco-friendly design aesthetic and language should reflect that.
Be Transparent. Share with the consumer that you and your company live the green lifestyle and don’t just sell green things. Show off your impressive environmental metrics, from resource and energy use to community impact, on your product or service’s labels, website, and other literature. Make your carbon footprint known so no one has to wonder about the authenticity of your green campaign.
Strategizing the marketability of a green product and lifestyle doesn’t overlook the passion for why it is important to have a greener planet; rather, it helps distinguishes yourself in that 'sea of sameness' and inspires more competition, innovation, and authenticity within the green marketplace.