Green Marketing More of a Trend Than a Fad

Environmental Leader and MediaBuyerPlanner partnered to study Green Marketing through the audiences of five industry publications to help determine if it's a staple or a fad. The report found that 33% of respondents said green marketing was more effective than their normal marketing efforts, with just 7% saying it was less effective. The remainder either did not detect a difference between their regular marketing efforts and their green efforts, or did not know which was more effective. Additional information from the Executive Summary is included for your perusal, and purchase information is available from a link at the conclusion of this Brief.

Companies that view themselves as the most green spend the most on green marketing, observes the report, while those that see themselves as least green spend just a fraction of their marketing budgets on such tactics. Marketers are backing up their beliefs of the company's level of "greenness" with marketing campaigns, rather than creating green campaigns to be part of the trend. The research suggests that management first buys into "greenness" and, later, green marketing, rather than beginning green marketing efforts simply out of a desire to appear green.

71% of firms indicated that they were in the "somewhat green" to "very green" categories, but they tended to believe their customer base thinks them less green than they really arr. This belief is persistent among the respondents, and may indicate why green marketing is on the rise.

Here are some of the key findings explained in the study:

82% of respondents indicated they expect to spend more on green marketing in the future. Among manufacturers, that number is significantly higher. At least half, if not more, of respondents plan to engage in online marketing efforts in the future.

28% of marketers themselves think green marketing is more effective than other marketing messages, compared to 6% of marketers who think it is less effective. Management is even more optimistic, with 46% of them indicating a belief that green marketing is more efficacious. Just 23% of those in operations think green marketing is more effective.

Companies with smaller marketing budgets tend to spend more on green marketing. Firms with a marketing budget of under $250,000 spend just over 26% on green marketing, while those with budgets of more than $50 million spend 6% on green marketing.

The most popular medium for green marketing was the internet, with 

  • 74.2% of respondents having spent money online, followed by
  • Print (49.8% 
  • Direct (40%)
  • Outdoor (7%)
  • Radio and TV (7%)
  • Mobile (6%)

29% of marketers with budgets between $10 million and $50 million, and 25% of those with budgets of more than $50 million, used outdoor, compared to 7.3% for all marketers. 

Mobile was also a popular medium for marketers with the highest budgets:

  • 14% of those in the $10 million to $50 million budget category spent money on mobile
  • 16% in the more than $50 million budget category spent money on mobile
  • Compared to 6% for all marketers

Those firms that used the most trackable media are also those that said green marketing worked better than the average marketing message.

  • 48% of respondents who employed direct marketing in their media mix said that it was more or much more effective, much like those who used internet (43%)
  • That contrasts with those respondents who had employed TV, 25% of whom said it was more effective than average, indicating that green marketing works better than those who don't or can't measure results think it does.

Direct-oriented media showed the more positive results when asked if customers would pay more for green products or to a green company:

  • Of the people who used the two least trackable media, TV and outdoor, only 29% and 25% respectively indicated that customers would pay more
  • That compares to 44%, 42% and 46% for internet, print and direct respectively

Larger companies are more likely to target employees rather than customers:

  • Companies with media budgets of more than $10 million annually showed a much higher proclivity to have their own employees as their target audience, with customers being targeted in only 70% of their efforts
  • Firms with budgets less than $250,000 were about 80% more likely to target customers directly, and only about half targeted their own staff

50% of marketers themselves indicate they have complete or consultative control of green marketing, while 57% of PR folks say that have control of the sustainability program. Sales and operations, on the other hand, are skeptical that marketers have so much control of the sustainability programs, with just 41% and 21% respectively saying control lies in the hands of marketers. However, those in management tended to agree that control of the sustainability program is in the hands of marketers, at 50%.

About half of companies reported that they are consciously taking steps to become more green. The most popular actions are: 

  • Conserving energy in operations, at 59%
  • Changing products to reflect greener values (such as changing ingredients, packaging or intended use), at 54%

And the Executive Summary observes that nearly half of respondents said the decision-makers at their companies hold green marketing in high regard, compared to just 15% who hold it in low regard. Companies with decision-makers who have a low regard for green marketing tend to be those with the larger marketing budgets between $10 million and $50 million per year, where more than a quarter indicated that their decision-makers held green marketing in low regard. Smaller companies, concludes the report, may believe green marketing to be more effective than larger companies do.

To read a brief summary, visit mediabuyerplanner here, or to purchase your copy of the report or acquire a data license, please visit here. 



2 comments about "Green Marketing More of a Trend Than a Fad".
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  1. Ruth Barrett from, January 4, 2010 at 12:04 p.m.

    Green marketing is but one leg of the sustainability chair, so good that it is stronger than many thought. Our audience is the half of decision-makers who hold green marketing in high regard. Hold up your hands!

  2. Chris Corbett from KMA Direct Communications, January 4, 2010 at 6:33 p.m.

    The survey shows that "green" marketing depends upon execs buying into the core ideological principals of environmentalism. This bodes ill for green marketing, and points to a reassessment.

    Developments such as the recent East Anglia scandal cut to the heart of the argument that greenism is an urgent need. This will not be lost on corporate executives who must steward their dollars with care.

    With the science going soft, and the consumer base already skeptical, it is possible that green marketing may have nearly reached its high water mark. If so, economic growth that helps solve real problems may surpass sustainability; let us hope so.

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