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Green Marketing: Opportunity for Innovation

In: Business and Management

Submitted By leafsfan30
Words 687
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When I reviewed the first edition of this book in 1994 I compared it to one of the self-help books that are so popular in America.
It was snappy, informative, clearly focused and tends to make you enthusiastic about wanting to get out there and do things differently and better. However, it also shared the typical weaknesses of such books of tending to reduce the greening challenge into relatively simple checklists of things you can do to create a greener company around yourself.
The second edition is a larger, glossier and more substantial affair, and it has begun to get to grips with some of the difficulties involved in the greening of companies rather than just focusing on the necessities and the opportunities. So new chapters covering ‘The Secret to
Avoiding Backlash’ and how to ‘Work from the Inside Out’ deal with some of the implementational issues that those who rushed off enthusiastically clutching the first edition may have encountered. There are other changes too. The book’s emphasis has changed to reflect the evolution of the green agenda. It deals with the change in environmental concern to become less explicitly ‘top of mind’ among many consumers and managers, instead becoming more of a central core value influencing consumption and marketing decisions. The chapter on dealing with different stakeholders is now entitled ‘Teaming Up for Success’ reflecting the trend towards collaborative solutions for environmental problems. It is a pity that these developments in the book have not really been matched by a more sophisticated approach to the characterisation of green consumers. The book has a very useful discussion of green consumer psychology, but it still classifies consumers according to the Roper Organisation’s ‘True Blues’ to ‘Basic
Browns’ framework which is very simplistic and perhaps too American to be very useful elsewhere.
The very American focus of this book, and the way that this limits its usefulness outside of America, is the major weakness in an otherwise very valuable contribution. This is reflected in the case study choice and the handling of many specific issues. The vignette case studies are interesting and are helpful in keeping the discussion lively and closely tied to the realities of business. The companies used however are all
American (or in a couple of cases represent European companies’ experience in America) and are often relatively obscure, which will limit the book’s appeal outside of the US. The issue of accuracy and honesty in environmental marketing claims is a very important issue, but the book deals with it almost entirely within the framework of adhering to Federal Trade Commission Guidelines. At a more fundamental level, America, as the most extreme example of a consumer-orientated society, is the place in which the difficulties of dealing with the environment within the existing marketing paradigm
Green marketing: op OCTOBER 1998 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 61
REVIEWS
become most apparent. Although the book calls for a new marketing paradigm, most of what it proposes looks very like the old one, in which it is assumed that consumer sovereignty operating within free markets will drive companies to improve their products in search of opportunity and profit. The marketing focus of the book is also a very narrow one, dominated by issues relating to end consumers, product development and product-based communication. To make a profound difference to the greening of industry, a broader focus and a more radical approach to the greening of marketing will be needed.
This book is very useful in providing a ‘pep talk’ for managers who may need to be convinced about the need to make their company and their marketing more environmentally orientated. It is lively, interesting, full of relevant practical examples, and very non-threatening. In the wake of the recent experience of many companies of hitting ‘The
Green Wall’ (to use Arthur D. Little’s terminology) in trying to implement corporate environmental programmes, its reassuring tone perhaps makes it a very timely contribution. Since the UK tends to often follow US management trends, the very American focus of the book will hopefully not grate too much on British readers.

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