I was invited to an interactive seminar on the Green Economy a little while ago. I might have been the only person in the room who doesn’t make their living providing ‘green’ products and services or is in a job related to the green industry. So, as I had nothing but knowledge (and a few new friends) to gain I could sit back and take it all in. For what it’s worth, here is my take on the day: The conversation about the opportunities and constraints of the green economy revolved around what I’m thinking of as the three C’s: Consciousness, Compliance and Competitiveness. A slight departure from the 6 P’s of traditional marketing wisdom.
- Our reality is that there is not a huge level of green consciousness (yet). This applies to all socio economic levels. The average consumer is fairly illiterate about sustainability so if you want to build your market you need to invest in raising consciousness. The research is showing that consumers who are aware start to care more and are often prepared to pay slightly more for a comparable green product or service. I.e. ethics/personal values can be purchasing drivers.
- Although green consciousness is not yet all pervasive it is growing rapidly. Individuals and organisations are often conscious of the need to have a green image. This may or may not be driven by ethics, but it still represents an opportunity to vendors.
- The consciousness and ethics of the vendor will determine their own sustainability in the market. If any form of ‘green washing’ is practiced it is likely they will be exposed in time. Participants also need to take a good look at their own lifestyle. To what extent are they providing a positive model for green living? As Ghandi’s taught us “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Participants in the green economy who are living authentically green lives will be assured a more enthusiastic response from the marketplace.
- The global energy and water crises, coupled with the environmental imperative, are driving governments to legislate for change. For example, in South Africa our new SANS 10400 ensures far greener practices in the building sector. (Please see my post of 22 May to navigate some of those challenges). Other examples include mandatory recycling in many countries, controls in manufacturing processes, banning/control/disposal of substances, protection of ecosystems etc. etc. For each legal requirement there is a potential for green products and services to be offered. As individuals and organisations achieve compliance, they are consuming! The opportunities are growing at an exponential rate.
- It seems it really is time to stop limiting ourselves with the negativity around the notion that ‘green is too expensive’. People operating in the green economy need to start being a lot more creative in how they ‘sell’ the value of their offerings. (We already know that ‘preaching’ doesn’t always work!). As with all classic marketing practice, vendors need to be answering the question ‘what’s in it for me’. Strategizing for greater volumes at lower profit may also be an opportunity as there will always be a threshold at which the majority of people will not spend more.
Of course, with everything in life the 3 C’s are interconnected. As our consciousness grows, so does our green spend. As more green products and services become available so we consume more. In time even those without green consciousness will be green consumers whether by choice or not, as the ultimate truth is, that if we don’t all make the shift there won’t be much of anything left at all!
The seminar was hosted by alive2green.