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Green marketing involves companies positioning their products as environmentally friendly or energy efficient. Many different brands in a wide range of industries use green marketing as a way of standing out from among a crowded field of competitors, but green marketing can also cause problems for companies that rely on it at the expense of other forms of promotion.
To market your products as "green" you may need to go through an expensive and lengthy process of getting environmental certifications. These certifications, which governments, industry associations, trade associations and consumer advocacy groups all distribute, require products to meet certain standards for energy use, efficiency or recyclability. Meeting these standards may be difficult, especially while keeping prices low. However, without an official certification, customers have no way of gauging the truth behind your "green" claims.
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If your company's marketing makes claims about its green products or an overall commitment to environmental sensitivity, it may open you up to enhanced scrutiny from consumers and environmental protection groups. Analysts may examine everything from how much energy your manufacturing processes use to where you acquire raw materials and how much packaging you use to ship your products to market. Making environmental claims might only be wise once you've instituted a green policy that reaches every level of production and operations.
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Green marketing can make your company stand out from among others who have products with similar quality or prices. Green marketing promotes a more thoughtful, responsible corporate image. This holds true even for customers who don't make environmental concerns a major priority. It also gives your company's marketing materials a wider range of talking points besides conventional claims about low prices, durability and style, all of which customers have heard many times before.
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Green marketing can result in different types of customer reactions, which can serve as benefits or drawbacks to such a marketing strategy. Environmentally conscious consumers may flock to your brand and embrace your products. You may also be able to use green marketing to gain an increase in neutral consumers who value other features more but see the environmental benefits of your products as a slight advantage over similar competing products. On the other hand, some consumers equate green marketing with products that cost more or sacrifice practical value for vague or unproven environmental benefits. Green marketing may seek to avoid this negative connotation by using new terminology. For example, the website Environmental Leader notes that the construction industry uses the term "high-performance building" to avoid customer concerns over decreased durability when it comes to green construction materials and techniques.