We’re all concerned about protecting the environment. From saving the oceans to reducing our plastic waste, people across the globe are taking steps to make their lives more environmentally friendly.
But what about businesses? From big-name brands to small ecommerce stores, every organization has a responsibility to boost its green credentials.
When it comes to promoting those green values, many brands are opting for so-called “green marketing” strategies to entice eco-conscious customers to their business.
To help you understand more about green marketing, our team has picked some of their favorite green marketing examples to inspire your efforts.
Green marketing refers to brands focusing their marketing efforts on the environmental benefits of their products and services.
Green marketing can be used to promote individual products and services as well as a brand’s wider green ethos and sustainability steps.
As part of green marketing, brands not only create and promote environmentally friendly products, but they also often take part in green schemes and initiatives, such as using sustainable materials, manufacturing processes, reducing waste, and transportation.
Greenwashing is when a company claims its products are environmentally friendly when, in reality, they have no positive impact on the environment at all.
It’s easy to see the benefits of green marketing and positioning your brand as eco-friendly, but if you haven’t committed to eco-friendly practices and products, don’t even think about claiming otherwise.
If you’re caught to be greenwashing, you’ll have a major impact on your brand’s reputation.
The key is to be transparent. You don’t have to be perfect, but by showcasing the steps you’re taking to improve your practices and products, customers will appreciate that you’re trying your best.
Similarly, even if you’ve created an environmentally friendly product, your eco-efforts can’t stop there. You’ll need to ensure the manufacturing process isn’t having a detrimental impact on the planet too.
Advice from the Experts
Top tip! Don’t forget that you need to ensure every step of the process is as environmentally friendly as possible. People don’t want to order a sustainable product only for it to arrive packaged in non-recyclable materials!
Patagonia, the outdoor clothing retailer, is well known for its green credentials. The brand’s mission statement includes a commitment to building a product that “causes no unnecessary harm” to the environment.
The company is also vocal about its behind-the-scenes processes too. Staff are offered incentives to car share or take public transport to work, and the company now donates its profits to green initiatives.
One of the standout pieces of green marketing from Patagonia came in the 2011 Thanksgiving season with its “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign. The marketing campaign saw the brand promote its fleece jackets by detailing the environmental impact one jacket had. The campaign then encouraged customers to opt for a second-hand version instead.
Despite its strong eco-credentials, Patagonia knows that it can still improve. The brand is totally transparent on its website that some of its deliveries still rely on fossil fuels.
This is a great lesson in reminding us that you can have a clear green mission statement while still being transparent with your audience about any shortcomings and what you’re doing to rectify them.
The Swedish furniture brand is well known for its flat-pack furniture, but IKEA also has a sustainability strategy called People & Planet Positive.
The strategy is centered around the idea that people shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality to live sustainably.
IKEA’s biggest moment of green marketing was with its “Fortune Favours the Frugal” campaign.
The campaign aimed to change the connotations of the term frugal as having a negative impact on people’s lives. As part of the campaign, a TV advert saw a meteor heading to earth that was broken down by each environmentally-friendly action undertaken back at home.
The advert was complimented by IKEA’s new range of sustainable products, including refillable water bottles, recyclable straws, and energy-saving LED lights.
IKEA’s green marketing campaign was a great way of highlighting how a brand can reposition its existing offering to be more sustainable and then showcase this to customers.
The Body Shop is well known for its green credentials, and its vast sustainable efforts include creating products that don’t test on animals, defending human rights, and creating staff sustainability initiatives.
The Body Shop operates in an industry that commonly tests on animals and uses chemicals and products that can be harmful to the planet.
As part of its mission statement, The Body Shop pledged that its whole product collection would be Vegan Society-certified by 2023, and is working towards using 100% renewable energy.
The Body Shop uses its green status to its benefit with a whole page on its website dedicated to its sustainability efforts. There are also in-store refill stations to reduce plastic waste which is regularly promoted across the brand’s social media channels.
TOMS is another great green marketing example. Not just known for its comfortable shoes, the company has made a name for itself by pledging to donate a percentage of all profits to environmentally-friendly causes.
It’s not just a financial pledge that TOMS has opted for. The brand has been clear about the green steps it’s been taking to make all areas of its business operations as sustainable as possible.
These include using sustainable cotton, reducing waste, and minimizing energy usage during its manufacturing process. TOMS can use these practices to form the content of much of the marketing material.
TOMS is a great example of a brand delivering on promises, and it has committed to green initiatives across its supply chain to have the biggest positive environmental impact possible.
Starbucks has taken various planet-saving steps in recent years, including removing plastic straws and pledging to open 10,000 environmentally friendly stores by 2025.
When it comes to its green marketing, the brand is clever at encouraging customers to get involved with its green initiatives.
The company doesn’t just sell coffee to customers, it also has a vast range of reusable coffee cups which it encourages customers to purchase for their morning coffee fix.
The coffee chain also previously ran a successful Facebook campaign that encouraged people around the world to plant trees.
Starbucks also launched a Greener Apron campaign where the brand signed its staff up for online training focused on sustainability and environmental stewardship. The name, Greener Apron, acted as a play on the famous green apron worn by Starbucks baristas.
Timberland is one of our favorite green marketing examples. The brand expertly uses stories about saving the environment to help sell its products.
One of the key features of Timberland’s green marketing strategy is TimberLoop, an innovative platform that encourages customers to return used Timberland items to be refurbished and given a “second chance” at life.
The brand will refresh the items before they’re returned and resold on the TimberLoop marketplace, a dedicated section of the Timberland website.
This green marketing example is an excellent way of highlighting how brands can encourage sustainability long after customers have purchased and used their products.
Below we’ve listed some of our top tips for applying green marketing to your online business:
- Don’t be afraid to mention your shortcomings. Being open with your customers will help to build a stronger relationship. You can showcase your green credentials while being honest about the areas that still need work.
- Use your marketing to shout about the behind-the-scenes steps you’re taking, such as employee training and charitable donations.
- Use every point of customer contact, from your website to social media channels and email marketing, to promote your green credentials.
- Undertake audience research to understand what sustainability efforts your audience cares about.
- Ensure your sustainability efforts extend to every area of your business to allow you to conduct green marketing in good faith.
Now that you’ve reached the end of this article, we should have answered your green marketing questions, such as what is green marketing and how can you integrate green marketing into your online brand.
As you can see from the green marketing examples in this article, some brands have totally nailed the balance between shouting about their sustainability status and backing up their words with eco-conscious actions.
From undertaking audience research to being clear on which elements of your business are environmentally friendly and which aren’t, these examples will help you learn the best ways to shift your marketing to focus on sustainability.
If you’re keen to keep learning and developing your marketing knowledge even further then you can take a look at our vast array of digital marketing articles, including these on our top digital marketing tips, the best marketing channels for ecommerce, and digital marketing ROI statistics.