How going green can help promote your business
Environmental campaigns are not just for the big firms. Here are some tips on how to do it right.
In 2010, the Department of Natural Resources launched the “Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (CFL)” campaign, wherein one million CFL bulbs were distributed nationwide to help reduce the use of the wasteful incandescent light bulbs. This project resulted in the disposal of lesser light bulbs in a span of one year, contributing to the overall waste reduction of the company and its partner communities.
To the average observer, the question may be “Why?” As in, why would a large public corporation put so much interest in an initiative that would certainly cost money to implement?
According to Meta Brophy, director of publishing operations for Consumer Reports magazine, any sustainable, conscious effort is categorized under green marketing. “Aside from brandishing the company with ‘positive vibes,’ effective eco-friendly marketing strategies increase the Chief Marketing Officer’s bottom line. Taking action to reduce carbon footprint is admirable and when consumers realize that advocacies are in order for a particular campaign, they are most likely attracted to what you are offering in the market,” she says.
Brophy adds that a company’s saving on production costs in order to increase profits is an indication that the brand is on the right track towards going green. Companies that have opted to go green do so by modifying their production processes, packaging strategies and public relations and advertising tactics. These are concrete steps toward the fulfillment of ecological impacts outlined by the brand. She says, “Once you have identified measures to achieve your goals, primarily to green the environment more while earning money, everything else follows. You have to know that it takes a while to implement all these grand plans, but when it takes off, it goes very far. You can only choose to continue or go back to your old, tried and tested ways.” From a consumer’s point of view, product messages infused with environmental advocacies are very attractive since they bring the brand to a positive light. Brophy argues that the human desire to help improve the surroundings is almost always present in entrepreneurial encounters and related settings.
One might argue that one needs to be a big corporation to initiate such green initiatives. But green efforts are being implemented by a number of smaller firms as well. Reese Fernandez- Ruiz, co-founder and current CEO of eco-ethical business Rags2Riches Inc., stands as a solid example for a profitdriven, advocacy business model.
With ‘People, Profit, Planet and Positive Influence’ as the brand’s philosophies, Rags2Riches was created to work with recycled aterials, clothing scraps and organic materials to produce fashionable items such as handbags, wallets and organizers. Reese envisioned the company as opening opportunities for the women of Payatas, the brand’s adopted community, by learn ing the craft and earning a living. Since its inception in 2007, Rags2Riches has reached out to various communities across the country.
“We wanted to give all women, capable and willing to learn, fair chances of penetrating the creative market and giving contributions to the local economy,” says Reese. “We invest in skills-based training and maximize eco-friendly steps to utilize the company’s growth and the brand’s image.” Because of this, Reese has been recognized among the five inaugural Rolex Young Laureates sponsored by the Rolex Foundation in Switzerland for her success in this business.
Since then, Rags2Riches has become a framework for many local ecological and socio-enterprise units as it puts a premium on giving back, both to the environment and to impoverished communities.
Black holes in going green
Not all business ecological efforts are entirely beneficial as there are certain loopholes to avoid and disasters to take precaution against. In their book “Green Marketing Myopia,” authors Jacquelyn Ottman, Edwin Stafford and Cathy Hartman identify two main objectives in green marketing: (1) improve environmental quality, and (2) provide customer satisfaction.
To achieve both, they say that green marketing must come out as “grassrootsdriven and humorous without sounding too preachy.” Studies claim that consumers are turned off by brands that go overboard with lessons and moralistic schemes. And while companies going green are most likely putting their best foot forward and their best intentions at hand, the authors claim that social entrepreneurs are often challenged by the task of presenting their cases and advocacies in the proper mediums with appealing messages.
Part of the decision-making that consumers go through is thinking how a certain product that claims something can actually turn out to be true. “Although eco-certifications differentiate products and aid in consumer decision-making, they are not without controversy,” say the authors.
The authors go on to argue that going green can, like every other business trend, get into the fad drive. Sure, wordof- mouth marketing helps, but brand marketers have to closely monitor from whom and where these praises (or otherwise) about their products come from. It’s difficult enough establishing how your product can be legitimately considered as ecological; let alone relying on unreliable sources of product reviews.
Gold in green
Ultimately, all entrepreneurial efforts rooting from and leading to going green have their advantages as well as disadvantages. It is a matter of knowing how to position yourself in this blooming market, where to invest your best ecological efforts and what message to tell people across industries.
For successful campaigns, the drive, the passion and the will to make positive change may have overridden the temptation to make huge short-term profits. While practicality dictates the necessity to earn, good business values point towards a more outward-oriented mindset.
So does going green pay off? In the end, yes it does. Going green is a long-term investment, and it can pay off in terms of good corporate citizenship and an enhanced respectability among the public.