Green Marketing – Part 1: Consumers going ‘Green’, is it really happening?- by Dr Dileep Kumar, Professor of International Business,University of Utara, Malaysia


Go green consciousness began somewhere in between  1960s and early 1970s. There was a  growing concern about the harmful impact of industrialization and population surge on the environment. The rising awareness and consumer  readiness to buy augmented demand for these environment friendly products encouraging companies to show interest in green marketing. Green Marketing got popular in late 1980’s.

Green and going green is a perplexed concept in the business sector since, many are going by substitute names such as, environmental marketing, eco marketing, organic marketing, etc. Green marketing, also on the other hand known as ecological marketing and sustainable marketing, and is broadly defined as an organization’s thrive to design, promote, price and distribute products  that are environment friendly. Green marketing is essentially a way for  marketers to  brand their products  to capture more of the market share by appealing to people’s desire to choose products and services that best suites  the environment.

Green Consumption and its complexity

As per a research paper published in HBR in 2008 (W.M.C.B. Wanninayake and Pradeep Randiwela), in spite of the increasing eco-awareness in modern market economies, there are still significant barriers to the adoption of green products among the consumers. In consumer behavior research, these barriers are mainly due to lack of awareness on green products and  complexity involved in green consumption. Owing to the theoretical and ethical intricacy of ‘ecologically responsible consumer behavior’ and to the confusing trends of ecological information, different consumers have different understanding and perspective of green products.

Green Buying Behavior

Green buying behavior can be referred to as the consumption of products that have least impact on the environment. There are diverse terms used interchangeably with green buying behavior such as pro-environmental purchase behavior, ecologically responsible purchase behavior and green purchase behavior.

The consumer behavior has altered to a great extent over the last 20 years but it has been evolutionary. Due to the fine tuned awareness of  protecting the environment, customers are increasingly rejecting high-polluting products and services. In the past, organizations developed their strategies  to maximize  profits with little or no concern for the environment. The scenario is changing owing to the change in consumer behavior and awareness towards environment hazards and the need for protection.

Nevertheless, the novel green thought was slowly incorporated in the most decisive goals of marketing minimized the damage level to the natural environment, thus reducing the negative impact of pollution and offering ecological benefits to the entire world. Manufacturers as well as service firms have in recent times shifted their manufacturing production, service and advertising to address consumer’s needs for better environmentally safe goods and services.

The green buying behavior  further increases the ecological ethics of consumers which results in the improved demand for green products.  A relevant research has elicited that the consumers that are interested in environmental matters make their purchasing decisions using criteria beyond the usual consumption models. In some case consumers may not consider price too for buying an eco-friendly product.

Consumption pattern is certainly changing. It is observed that now a large number of consumers discard exceptional technical products just because they cause destruction to the environment.  Clearance or rejection of  such products by the consumers has become  so common. Consumers dont shy away from showing disapproval to those activities by producers, suppliers or investors that could harm the environment. A recent research of the Greek market about the “green marketing”, realized by the Athens Laboratory of Research in Marketing in collaboration with the Centre of Sustainability (CSE) proved that an overwhelming majority of the consumers (92.8%) appreciated those enterprises that are sensitive to environmental matters. The other interesting aspect of this study was that it was mainly women consumers who were in their middle age and married who had the most positive attitude towards firms with strong commitment to green initiatives.

Consumer’s perception and attitude towards green products are certainly changing. However, the degree of change visible is still questionable. There is no doubt that green marketing is certainly on the rise.

[message_box title=”About the Author” color=”red”] Dr. Dileep Kumar M. is a Professor of International Business, University of Utara, Malaysia. Views expressed here are purely personal.[/message_box]




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