In recent years, society has placed a greater emphasis on the importance of “going green” and promoting environmentally sustainable practices. Organic products are stocked on nearly every store shelf, electric cars are on the brink of becoming a mainstream commodity, and companies are more transparent about their production processes and carbon footprint. Sustainable efforts stem from an inherent desire to do good and our responsibility to protect the world we live in, and this responsibility extends beyond the individual consumer to the corporate level.
This desire to protect the environment ultimately impacts buyer behavior, as most people would prefer to purchase from a certified green company. When asked what initiatives companies should focus most on, consumers ranked protecting the environment as their number two concern, just behind local economic development. This makes it all the more important that companies focus on marketing to their audience in a way that explicitly conveys their eco-friendly practices.
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What’s in it for me?
While the ultimate intention of going green should be to do your part and give back, there are some tangible benefits aside from that “doing good” feeling. With consumers preferring to support green companies, you can develop a more loyal customer base by promoting your eco-friendly practices. You can also cut operating costs by reducing the amount of paper and electricity you use; try emailing documents instead of printing them and switch out your traditional light bulbs for compact fluorescents (CFLs). Depending on the changes you implement, you could also qualify for more tax breaks, saving even more money.
If you do decide to implement sustainable practices into your business, make sure you’re doing so in an ethical and honest manner. Oftentimes, companies will market a product as “organic,” but it only applies to the product itself; the packaging or production process may not be environmentally-friendly. Make sure you take the time to thoroughly evaluate your products and services, from manufacturing to consumption, before you make claims that your company is entirely green. Saying that something is “100% organic” is not the same as “made with organic ingredients;” how much of the product is organic and how much isn’t? Consumers don’t want to play a guessing game, so be upfront about your company’s practices. Even if you don’t fully adopt eco-friendly policies, making an effort to incorporate where you can will be well-received.
Other effective ways to be transparent with customers is through product seals and third-party certifications. Labeling items as “ENERGY STAR certified” or “USDA Organic” provides validity to customers that your business practices what it preaches and you’re not marketing yourself in a misleading manner (also called “greenwashing”).
Transforming our society into an eco-friendly one requires the support of consumers and companies alike. It is evident that shoppers are making purchase decisions based on the relative sustainability of a company, so it should be all the more reason for your business to adopt green practices. Going green can not only help build trust and authority with customers, but it can also reduce operating expenses and qualify your business for more tax breaks. This Earth Day, think about the changes you can make within your company to help the environment; the planet and your customers will thank you.