15 September 2018

How green-washing can cloud the value of green marketing


Environmental issues have taken an increasingly relevant weight in the media. We must recognize that we are approaching, after the financial crisis and the economic crisis derived from it, an energy crisis closely linked to the ecological disasters that sprout all over the planet. Suffice it to mention the drama of Fukushima and the reactions of governments, nuclear lobbies, public opinion or organizations dedicated to the care of the environment (citing only these few) to realize the phenomenon of awareness of society, worldwide, regarding the environment ambient.

Green Marketing vs. Green-Washing

Against this, some companies have begun to strengthen their social responsibility and, more especially, the aspect related to the environment. We are witnessing the spread of the phenomenon of green marketing or ecomarketing. This trend, which seeks to bring organizations to a market niche sensitive to issues of ecology, developed products that care for the environment and an infinity of real, proven and legitimate actions that give added value to your business through awareness ecological Ecomarketing can provide tools to reorient the behavior of companies with their environment and redirect the purchasing process towards a sustainable model.

However, many companies have decided to get on the green marketing cart without integrating it into a real, transversal and sincere policy of Corporate Social Responsibility. In effect, these companies practice a mere green-washing that consists of performing a “cosmetic” operation only to beautify their image. In these cases, scratching a bit the varnish, stakeholders or interest groups (employees, customers, suppliers, investors, partners, etc.) we quickly realize that this way of proceeding is not sincere, let alone legitimate. The problem is that we started to doubt all the companies and their ecological pretensions, thinking that they are trying to sneak their products and services painted green, but in reality do not correspond to our willingness to consume responsibly. Result:

However, I want to think that there are companies that seek to satisfy the stakeholders that sincerely believe and defend these ecological principles. Encouraging an eco-friendly attitude in a company in a transversal way is not complicated, it is a matter of social responsibility that consists in reducing the negative impact that the company’s activities have on the environment and increasing social welfare. There are countless simple actions that can be integrated in companies (and in our lives), to promote sustainable development and care for the environment, such as recycling, consumption of local products, reforestation, energy savings and other natural resources ( like paper or water), use of ecological transport, reduction of the carbon footprint, etc.

Many companies practice environmentally responsible behavior and communicate it. However, they have to put a lot of effort to alleviate the distrust generated by the sugarcane companies mentioned above. One of the solutions developed consists of associating with prescribers such as NGOs or associations (for example: Armani with Green Cross, Carrefour with the United Nations Global Compact, Iberian Esker with Action, etc.) that endorse their social responsibility actions and It contributes, face to the public, credibility regarding its communication campaigns. However, the agreements drawn up and the projects carried out require economic resources that, often, a SME can not assume.

The Social Media to the rescue

Social Media and other web 2.0 channels can be an excellent alternative when transmitting a sincere, real and transversal message of ecomarketing. The advice of Joan Joan Mitjans Casanellas developed in the “Manual eLider” (Algón Editores, 2011), referring to the way politicians have to communicate in these media, also applies perfectly to these cases: “Do not talk about participation if it does not make consultations, nor surveys. Do not talk about transparency if you do not publish your data […] Talk about what you do and what you propose to do, about your work … “. The communication strategy consists of generating trustworthy prescribers through all the stakeholders, with the aim of strengthening the corporate reputation and supporting the Corporate Social Responsibility policies.

The messages transmitted in the 2.0 network benefit from greater credibility and reach out to target audiences without any sense of intrusion. These elements help its dissemination through recommendations to followers, fans, contacts and friends.

All consumers, electors, owners of our life and our planet

As committed consumers we need real and proven information to be able to consume in a sustainable way, for that reason, for any responsible company, communication 2.0 with its stakeholders tends to become an essential element.

However, it is these stakeholders who have the definitive responsibility to demand, press and obtain from companies (and even from governments) alternatives related to their desire to achieve a model of sustainable development. We are the ones who, because of our way of consuming, working and communicating, we carry all the individual and collective responsibility of what the world in which we live is like.