Green Marketing: Shhh…It’s Green

Green marketing can be tricky.

For instance, studies reported in the Journal of Consumer Research’s October 2014 issue find that although home consumers value environmentally responsible products, they are less likely to purchase a product – such as a cleaning product – if the main reason it was developed was to be Green.

Instead, they are more likely to base a purchase decision first on effective performance, product quality and durability, and secondarily on whether or not the product is Green.  That is, being Green is a plus for home consumers, but not the key reason for selecting the product.

This finding has caused a marketing dilemma for some companies that have spent considerable time and energy to develop and promote Green products for the consumer market, according to Stephen Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group. “In some cases the entire focus of a new product’s development and marketing campaign is its environmental benefits.”

Apple Computer faced this green marketing dilemma when it introduced unibody laptop computers. Initially, much of the development and marketing for the new design focused on the innovative use of aluminum to make construction of the machines Greener and more sustainable.

“However, Apple soon realized the improved performance and durability of the laptop should take marketing priority,” Ashkin says, “with its environmental benefits ‘icing on the cake’ and more a byproduct from the way the computer was made.”

But Ashkin points out that this study does not apply to facility managers and purchasers for commercial facilities. In many cases, especially for those facilities following a Green Cleaning program or seeking or are already LEED certified, selecting Green cleaning products is a requirement and a top priority.

“Fortunately when it comes to professional cleaning products, we are in a situation where manufacturers now produce cleaning products that are both high quality and environmentally preferable,” says Ashkin. “So in the commercial sector, we get to enjoy the best of both worlds.”