I just started reading John Grant’s Green Marketing Manifesto, a thought-provoking book on how marketers like us should approach the green marketplace. I’m only 56 pages into it, but I recommend it and the accompanying blog too.
We’re at an interesting turning point. Greenies and marketers used to be diametrically opposed, because the traditional eco mantra was "consume less" and the traditional marketing mantra was "consume more".
But now, it’s more about "consume smarter". And the roles of the greenies and marketers are blurring. Marketers play an important role in helping explain all of this to consumers. Instead of dragging the mainstream kicking and screaming to green, it’s about bringing green to the mainstream (through smart products and marketing). Making it seem "normal", in the same way that Apple has made computers normal and accessible.
A lot of this is already starting to happen, which is great. But as more and more jump on the eco bandwagon, there’s a whole heap of greenwashing too. This is dangerous, because it risks turning consumers off of the whole thing, making them suspicious and sceptical.
"You can’t just decide ‘ethical is in’ and treat it like a fashion." I read this line in John’s book and it prompted this cartoon idea. It’s been interesting to watch so many companies trot out their CSR plans recently. This is great when it’s serious, but a problem when it’s superficial and publicity-driven. Because consumers can see right through it. Sooner or later.