Green marketing as a marketing strategy has been with us since the nineteen eighties and nineties, when it emerged, predominantly within developed countries, in response to concerns about pollution, the environment and sustainability of resources. Environmental activists embarked on a strategy to encourage businesses and consumers to show their support for global and local ecological action through the marketplace. Businesses would promote their green bonafides and consumers would purchase their products and services over those of non-ecologically minded companies.
Since those early years there has been an explosion of green marketing in the twenty first century, especially in response to the growing scientific and community awareness around global warming. A sense of urgency entered the environmental debate within governments globally when economists began to plot the costs of global warming to economies around the world. In Australia, the Garnaut Climate Change Review in 2008 enabled the then Australian Government to forecast the dangers of inaction to our economy, and to move toward strategic policies designed to halt its spread. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in his 2007 speech to the United Nations climate change conference in Bali, stated, “that climate change represents one of the greatest moral, economic and environmental challenges of our age”.
Subsequently, the climate change debate has been heavily politicised in Australia, and in countries around the world. Deniers of global warming have made their opinions known throughout the media in questioning the science behind climate change. Funding for climate change deniers has been linked to corporations who would be adversely affected by economic policies such as an emissions trading scheme and a tax on carbon. Conservative political parties have appealed to their voter’s concerns with the short term economic pain in any adjustment to strategies designed to combat climate change. The election of Tony Abbot’s Liberal National Party coalition to government in Australia has flagged a reaction within the community to these economic policies.
Green marketing remains a powerful tool in the marketplace, as consumers continue to patronise companies, which signal their eco credentials. The sincerity behind green branding is at times questioned within sectors of the Australian community, but, by and large, it is seen as a force for positive environmental change. ’Greenwashing’ is a pejorative term used to point the finger at cynical companies and industries, which superficially market themselves as ecologically minded without fundamentally altering their unsustainable business practices.
Products and services aligned with green principles have a trajectory in the marketplace, only matched by the market’s love of technological innovation within consumer devices. The green can, and bottle, of Coke Life illustrates the iconic shift that has occurred within the global market toward environmentally sustainable products and services. Green marketing or Greenwashing? Only you will be able to answer that question!