The business world is under pressure today to stay ahead of the ever-increasing number of social issues and trends. While the push toward sustainable technologies and products to save the environment is not new, it has never been more significant than it is today.
Many companies are developing innovative solutions to help build a green future. They are taking this route to gain customer support and to reduce harm to the environment.
The Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) was first launched in 2010. It measures the green economy performance of 160 countries and looks at how the experts make their assessments. The GGEI is now the index most widely used by civil societies, policymakers, international organizations and the private sector to benchmark performance.
Nine of the world’s top 10 greenest countries are in Europe, according to GreenMatch, and their innovations include energy-saving and eco-friendly logistics. Let’s look at how going green can boost your company’s bottom line.
Green marketing means selling products or services by highlighting environmental benefits. Consumers refer to brands that incorporate green marketing with terms such as “sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” “organic” and “recyclable.”
Just because companies say they’re eco-friendly doesn’t mean they are. You and your customers can follow guidelines to determine if your brand is practicing authentic green marketing.
When considering your products and services, make sure the following are true:
For the past few decades, consumers have been increasingly concerned about the environment and our impact on it. Sustainability has become a priority. Food waste, plastic in the oceans, global warming and air pollution are some of the significant concerns of an environmentally conscious population.
Millions of people have joined Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. They are committed to purchasing only products that are designed to reduce environmental harm, even if the costs are higher.
Companies that want to attract consumers interested in social responsibility are evolving their marketing strategies to what is known as green marketing and looking for innovative ways to make green products.
There is no doubt that the green marketplace is profitable. Most people and business owners agree that “green is good.” Companies that practice green marketing are committed to corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. By doing so, they are trying to show their strong belief in protecting the environment. Green marketing also makes their products or services more attractive to consumers with the same concerns.
But, from an economic standpoint, is it profitable for small businesses? There may be a barrier to implementing such practices regarding short- and long-term costs.
Having a deep relationship with your target customers is key to creating your green strategy. Are your customers die-hard eco-friendly enthusiasts, or are they reluctant to pay more for sustainable products? Building your green goals based on your target customers’ values can help you rein in costs, provide transparency and set realistic business goals.
Generally, consumers are willing to pay higher prices for sustainability. Consumers tend to care about and spend the most on sustainable food and drinks, clothing and textiles, and household products such as soap.
Although going green has many environmental benefits, it can also mean extra costs that may be difficult for small businesses to absorb. For example, switching to solar power requires the installation of solar panels. They carry a hefty upfront cost that may take years to recoup in reduced energy costs. Also, switching energy suppliers and purchasing wind-power electricity can cost more than a small business can afford.
It’s all a matter of supply, costs and demand. If consumers are willing to spend more money on green products, companies will continue to provide them. If they aren’t, small companies will not.
Demand differs by country also. For example, in the 1990s and 2000s, New Zealand entrepreneurs saw their country as a natural place to grow the organic food market. However, because consumers weren’t buying the organics, the farmers weren’t interested in growing them, and the supermarkets weren’t stocking them. As a result, even though the organic food market was thriving in countries like Denmark and the U.S. at that time, it represented only 1% of the grocery store market in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s attempt at going green is a prime example of the challenges small businesses can face when trying to go green and be profitable.
In many cases, switching to green materials requires small businesses to raise their prices to cover the higher production costs. For example, a furniture manufacturer switching to sustainably harvested wood will have to pay more for lumber. This increase in cost is often passed down to the customers and cuts into profit margins.
Authenticity – not making false claims about being environmentally friendly – should be a priority for eco-friendly small businesses. Making inaccurate claims will harm your brand’s credibility.
Showing concern for social responsibility and the environment’s health can help small businesses increase their bottom line, even if there is a short-term loss. In the long run, as consumers seek more sustainable products and food, they will be loyal to the companies that provide them.
The best benefits for going green include:
Businesses that are making an effort to go green should be shouting it from social media rooftops. Consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products and follow companies that support climate change initiatives, and they are eager to tell their friends and family about socially responsible businesses.
When your company makes an effort to go green, your customers and your employees will notice. Employees enjoy working for businesses that put the environment and their health first.
You can reduce turnover and word-of-mouth marketing if an employee feels cared for. Happy employees can increase production, brainstorm creative solutions and improve brand reputation.
The EPA and various local, state and federal laws are aiming to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainability. Preparing early for future mandates allows you to position your business to be eco-friendly without a significant upfront cost by waiting until the last minute to comply.
Reducing your carbon footprint is more complex than investing in solar panels or switching to a new manufacturing facility. To reap long-term financial benefits from going green, you must start from the foundation up.
Can your product be made with different, more eco-friendly materials? Can you use recycled materials? Can your packaging be reduced? Asking these questions can help reduce supply chain pinch points, rising shipping costs and unpredictable utility charges.
While it may be easier financially for larger businesses to go green, small companies can go green on a smaller scale, one step at a time. Develop goals and action plans to make your products sustainable, improve workplace conditions or use a portion of profits to support eco-friendly initiatives.
If your brand is ethically and genuinely using green marketing, it needs to be at the core of your company culture and transparently showcased via your company’s processes, operations and sourcing.
Patagonia has become synonymous with sustainability, and for a good reason. The company’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, pledged in September 2022 to donate all future profits to fight climate change. Chouinard said, “We’re making Earth our only shareholder,” channeling Patagonia funds to a trust and a nonprofit organization to help save the environment for future generations.
Every step Patagonia takes has refreshing transparency to its customers. From environmental and animal welfare programs to safe working conditions to supply chain details. In addition, Patagonia is continuously strategizing to pay its workers a livable wage, use fair trade materials and choose renewable fuel resources.
Pela is on a mission to significantly reduce the amount of plastic in the oceans and landfills. The company currently makes several products, including compostable phone cases and an electric kitchen composter.
Pela purchases verified carbon credits to be Climate Neutral Certified. In addition, the company donates to local community organizations that promote sustainability. By 2028, Pela hopes to remove 10 billion pounds of waste from the world.
Grove Collaborative takes the guesswork out of sustainability. All products in its marketplace must meet a four-point standard: healthy, effective, sustainable production and 100% cruelty-free.
Grove calls itself the first plastic-neutral retailer on the planet, which means diverting the same amount of plastic from the ocean as the company produces. Grove has a company goal of being plastic-free by 2025 and continuing its pledge of reforestation efforts.
Additional reporting by David Trounce