By Shel Horowitz
Editor’s note: My friend Shel Horowitz has been writing for a long time about the important topic of green marketing. This post is adapted from his new book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, which he co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson. Small businesses can benefit tremendously from Shel’s advice.
When you look at all the advantages of running a green company, it’s hard to understand why every company in the world hasn’t shifted:
Worldwide, consumer consciousness on these issues is growing by orders of magnitude. Green America reported that even during the 2008–2011 recession, the green building sector grew an astonishing 1,700%, while the overall sector shrank by 17%; the organic food sector was up 238%, compared to just 33% growth in total food sales.
Google found 1,810,000 results for climate change articles published in 1990, 58,200,000 for 2014—a 3,200% increase.
Green products and services often command a premium price. A McKinsey study in 2012 found that close to 70% of consumers would pay 5% more for a comparable green product. Here’s something amazing: a worldwide study by Neilsen that surveyed over 29,000 people in 58 countries found a greater willingness to pay higher prices for green products in India (75%), Thailand, and the Philippines (both above 66%) than in countries we think of as both more socially aware and having more disposable income.
Of course, green products use fewer resources, less energy, more organic and natural materials—and thus score better on pollution, carbon footprint, and disposability.
Against conventional wisdom, green products can actually be cheaper to produce—if properly designed. Business leaders including Swiss banking giant HSBC, the Bank of England, and Germany’s largest utility, E.ON recognize the need to get our economy off fossil fuels.
As far back as 2008, Plenty Magazine named “10 ideas that will change our world”—six of those are directly and explicitly rooted in green thinking. The other four all have a green component.
Even the often-pessimistic Bill McKibben, author of the first (1988) book on climate change written for a mainstream, nonscientist audience, and founder of 350.org, credits citizen action for turning the tide on public awareness of climate change.
Everything is being re-examined under a green microscope. Suddenly, green is an issue in every single industry—even choosing a green pediatrician.
The more effectively your small business can demonstrate commitment to environmental values, the easier it will be to convince consumers to channel their business to your company. Conveniently enough, many green initiatives not only make a company more attractive to consumers, but actually cut existing costs. For instance…
-The hotel industry successfully marketed its cost-cutting towel washing policies as a green initiative
– Publishers shifted many titles to on-demand printing, citing both environmental and economic reasons
As Joel Makower puts it in his book, Strategies for the Green Economy…
“Companies that don’t leverage their environmental achievements and commitment in a way that produces business value often find that green is the first thing to go when times get tough—when there’s a change in leadership, when shareholders raise questions, or when your company otherwise finds that being seen as an environmental leader is no longer convenient. On the other hand, if you can say, “Our sustainability initiatives have reduced costs and boosted revenue by creating new markets, adding new products, and deepening loyalty with customers,” this creates a long-term justification for a sustainability strategy and for environmental issues broadly.”
Reframing this discussion toward an abundance mindset, Melissa Chungfat advises companies to “move away from the language of sacrifice. Find ways to talk about how your product or service is easier, healthier, more convenient or lower maintenance. Be positive and solutions-focused.” She also suggests pointing out actual achievements, rather than sometimes-vague commitments.
Green/social change business profitability expert Shel Horowitz, a/k/a “The Transformpreneur,”sm shows you how profit by greening your business, turning hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance, and marketing these commitments. Reprinted with permission from Shel’s 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World (with Jay Conrad Levinson; Morgan James Publishing, 2016). The book highlights profitable and successful socially responsible strategies used by companies from Fortune 100 to solopreneurs: To discuss your next project with him or schedule a no-charge 15-minute strategy session: shel [AT] greenandprofitable.com, 413-586-2388 (8 a.m. to 10 p.m., US Eastern Time), Twitter: @ShelHorowitz