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Is Green Marketing Still Red-Hot?
By Kenneth Hein
February 2010

It’s safe to say that green marketing blossomed in 2009. However, as issues like the economy and health care grabbed the public’s attention, corporate environmental practices fell out of the spotlight. Now that it is less hip to go green, will the movement wither on the vine? While marketing experts’ opinions vary, a number agree that it is no longer as integral a focus as it had been just months ago.

“A lot of businesses jumped on board because it was trendy, not because they believed in it. They did it because the polls showed this or a focus group said that. Others never got started,” says Simon Sinek, owner of strategic marketing consultancy Sinek Partners. “Now it’s not trendy.”

The green movement made great strides, but now the hurdle is higher in terms of generating attention, says James Gregory, CEO of the consultancy CoreBrand. “The ante has been raised in terms of making news. You used to be able to fake it somewhat; now you need to prove it, believe it and live it.” Still, he feels that eco-conscious marketing practices won’t go away anytime soon. “It will be with us for a long time.”

Others, though, believe that green marketing and operations have become part of the fabric of business. Robert Passikoff, president of marketing consulting firm Brand Keys, says green practices have become so prevalent that they have become the status quo for many companies. “It is being included in all of the decisions that are being made,” Passikoff says. “It’s not the exception anymore. It’s the rule.”

For the companies that successfully implement green practices, there will be benefits. “Green acts as a differentiator,” Passikoff says. “If a consumer is choosing between two brands, they may not buy on price. They may buy the green product. It affects the value of the brand.”

In terms of supporting green practices by purchasing green promo items, distributors report mixed results. PromoShop (asi/300446) fielded 842 orders for green goods in 2009, up from 136 the year prior. “Clients are putting it in their budgets and actually making it happen,” says PromoShop Vice President Kris Robinson.

Bob Vibe, on the other hand, says, “I know it’s an important thing and certainly our government and culture is pushing it, but I haven’t been writing a lot of green orders.” The owner of Ad Pro (asi/444041) says, “I don’t think people perceive that issue as being as prevalent right now. Price is more of an issue. The economy is more important, that’s for sure.”

Sinek agrees with the sentiment of price-consciousness impacting green marketing. “During hard economic times people are more concerned about their wallets versus being a good citizen to our environment, which has no immediate payback,” he says. “Given the choice, people will choose their wallets over ideals.” – KH

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