Times They Are a Changing: Green Marketing Tips for Eco Entrepreneurs in 2008

change2.jpgIn a recent Ad Age article Jacquelyn Ottman, president of J. Ottman Consulting, shared four green marketing predictions for 2008 with readers. While her predictions are meant for the big corporate and big agency readers of that magazine, eco entrepreneurs can develop their own marketing strategies based on what the big players see as the major market trends.

1. Ottman predicts, and I wrote about here , that consumers and manufacturers fed up with regulatory agencies’ inaction in the area of eco-labeling. With minimal or mindless standards governing consumers’ choices, big companies are creating their own standards and vying with each other to do the job the FDA, USDA and other government agencies seem reluctant to do.

Private eco-labels can be a threat to smaller companies. While perceived by consumers as a “certification” in reality an eco-label created by and used exclusively on one company’s products, becomes a brand identity.

What can eco-entrepreneurs do? Call them on it! Seek out certifications from environmentally aware non-profits and government agencies. Use the words “independently certified” on your package. Pressure the FDA, EPA, USDA and other agencies to take a stand. Join a trade group that applies pressure. Advertise your difference whether that be “made locally” or “made at our one plant” or Fair Trade in PR pieces, on social media and on your package.

2. Manufacturers will start to take responsibility for e-waste. In response to two directives from the European Commission, the Waste for Electric and Electronic Equipment and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances major manufacturers of electronic equipment will start take back programs and begin using less toxic materials whenever possible.

Make sure you do too. Create a take back program. Large companies that distribute millions of products have a headache managing take-back programs. Make yours easier. Make it innovative. Make it fun. One strategy is to get younger, already more eco-conscious consumers involved. Better yet, start a company that manages take-back programs or e-waste disposal. The time is right to start a business to handle old electronics.

3. More and more green products will hit the shelves. More and more not-so-green products will engage in green practices, especially in the area of packaging. We’ll soon see fewer over-packaged products and more use of recycled paper products and non toxic inks.

There’s a business opportunity or three in there for eco-entrepreneurs. As manufacturers request eco-friendly packaging, suppliers, designers, engineers and chemists in their field will be in demand. Want to make your packaging more eco-friendly? Check out some of the 40 tips to eco your marketing packaging.

3a. (I split this one in two as it will have an important impact on green entrepreneurs.) As more and more companies go green, being green will have less impact. Green will be the standard. That means that smaller companies who use their “green” credentials as their major selling point may have to change with the times. If everyone’s green, what’s your point of difference?

This is the time to really look at your product and see what makes it unique. If you have the money, invest in marketing to determine your best positioning strategy and do some research to determine consumer need and the competitive marketplace.

4. Green product sales will soar. Major manufacturers will continue to snap up smaller green companies and larger entrepreneurial companies will grow.

Both of these trends benefit the eco-entrepreneur. Not only will large corporations be courting you, the green trend will put well known stand-alones like Seventh Generation in the market for acquisitions too. Don’t be surprised to find them knocking at your door. If you choose to stand alone make sure you have a solid business plan that accounts for the changing marketplace.

Now is a critical time for eco-entrepreneurs. As green goes mainstream make sure you’re ready for the change.

Now, what’s your take on all of this? What moves do you think will most benefit eco-entrepreneurs?

About the Author

Hear Maryanne speak on Social Media for Socially Conscious Brands at Expo East on September 27th! Maryanne Conlin is CPG brand marketer and digital marketing expert, CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy, 4GreenPs. A Shorty Award winner for best Green Content on Twitter, she was a member of the IAA team that won the Green Award in 2010 and most recently was a finalist for the PRSA - Los Angeles PRISM awards for social media. She and her team focus on providing strategic marketing direction, custom content for web, mobile and social platforms, social media community management and online promotions and digital advertising solutions for companies in the green, food and Hispanic space. Follow her on Twitter @maryanneconlin
  • The green and ethical markets are very very young. For me they resemble manufacturing/product based economies more familiar in the last century. In the coming years, we can expect more and more green businesses to service the green and ethical market.

    This benefits the so-called “eco-entrepreneurs” who are able to focus their businesses on core areas that matter. It will inevitably drive out some of the smallest players in the market as fewer businesses are more able to dominate when markets are more efficient. Is this good because it’s easier to access and more efficient? Or bad because the people who have put years of effort into their businesses may suffer?

  • My company provides custom marketing and literature oriented boxes and binders to businesses. This is our second go-around with eco-friendly products. About eight years ago a lot of our clients started to request recycled and recyclable materials for their requirements. In many cases, these materials were more costly than virgin materials and the clients lost interest when they were expected to pay more. Now, years later, I see more acceptance for green products from both my supply side and client side. We are including these products in our product line, however they are not yet big sellers. Time and demand will tell whether this new round of eco products will take hold.

  • It is actually our current industries and businesses that are new. 200 years ago, almost everything was organic and derived simply. What we call ethical and green business is actually ancient. The opportunity now is to learn how to re-awaken that wisdom we all have in a WHOLE way and apply it in business and lifestyle so that the natural ‘people to people’ and ‘people to nature’ connections are restored. This is the age of wisdom. Our business is a leader in HOW people can create EcoSocial Enterprise, EcoSocial lifestyles and wisdom, wealth, and wellbeing for all. Custodians Garden. I invite you to come and experience the Garden for yourselves.

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