First of all, it is the first time I have taken a course in the Sustainable Development (Sus Dee as I call it) side of the program. Second, it is interesting because there are a few people in the class who are from the Sus Dee side and a few of us from the marketing side.
In the course, we talk about what environmental marketing is and how companies market their green products. I did a project about an ad for Dell severs placed on the back cover of The Economist that was for their servers - but with a green twist in that their solutions could "slash energy consumption up to 45%".
During the presentation, we looked why they would have spent a CPM of about $395 to reach IT decision makers, how effective the ad might be and then we analyzed Dell's green strategy.
It's funny though - you make a product and market it the traditional way and nobody says anything but once you put a green spin on things, you are all of a sudden held under a microscope.
The example I used to explain this to someone was this:
You make a household cleaning product that works better and you can say in your ad that because it works better, it saves you time so that you can go onto doing the things you enjoy doing, instead of cleaning.
You make a "green" version of that product and say that it doesn't harm the environment and people start researching your environmental record and claims... which begs the question.. why even bother?
Well, the reason is that most people don't really understand or care to investigate those claims, so for marketeers, this is an easy win.
A recent survey by Cone Inc said that while 39% of Americans prefer to buy products they believe to be beneficial to the environment, only 22% understand what those claims mean. Read the summary here.
So is using green benefits a viable way to differentiate your offering or is simply the cost of entry in today's market??