The Green Consumerism


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It is the paper presented by me in a seminar. It focused on the general concept of the term "Green Consumerism".

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The Green Consumerism

  1. 1. The Green Consumerism and its sustainability towards ConsumerBehaviour*M. Subadhra KrishnanAbstract:Green consumer behaviour is one of the key focuses of contemporary research on thesociology of consumption. The constant presence of environmental issues related toconsumption and the changes consumer society has faced during the 20th century arepresumed to reflect on present consumer behaviour.This paper examines the impact of these trends on the role of the marketing department inthe 1990s. Essentially, when the buying habits of consumers are being strangelyinfluenced by green and other environmental issues, the paper argues that the marketingconcept and subsequent strategies need to be rethought. , arguing for the need for a longterm marketing perspective rather than the short term window dressing approach taken bymany marketing departments..In recent years, the idea of ‘green’ or ‘political’ consumers expressing their politicalbeliefs in everyday life has been widely embraced. Eager to satisfy the needs of this newmarket segment, firms have allocated substantial resources to environmentalmanagement, social accountability, corporate citizenship, occupational health and safetyetc.As the Encyclopedia of the Environment noted, marketers have responded togrowing consumer demand for environment-friendly products in several ways:"By promoting the environmental attributes of their products; by introducing newproducts; and by redesigning existing products, all components of environmentalmarketing."During the 1990s, the industrialized world also witnessed a growing number ofenvironmental labels, expected to guide the political consumers in their shoppingdecisions. This paper deals about the evaluations of these environmental programme,eco-sponsoring, eco-labelling etc., indicate that some labels and product groups receive agreat deal of attention while others remain in obscurity.
  2. 2. Introduction:Every time someone makes a decision about whether (or not) to purchase a product orservice there is the potential for that decision to contribute to a more or less sustainablepattern of consumption. Each purchase has ethical, resource, waste and communityimpact implications. When individuals consider the adoption of sustainable lifestyles,they engage with an increasingly complex decision-making process. These every daydecisions on practical environmental or ethical solutions often result in trade-offsbetween conflicting issues and result in a “motivational and practical complexity of greenconsumption”.Green marketing began in Europe in the early 1980s when certain products werefound to be harmful to the earths atmosphere. Consequently new types of products werecreated, called "green" products, that would cause less damage to the environment. Themovement quickly caught on in the United States and has been growing steadily eversince. The development of ecologically safer products, recyclable and biodegradablepackaging, energy-efficient operations, and better pollution controls are all aspects ofgreen marketing. Green marketing has produced advances such as packages usingrecycled paper, phosphate-free detergents, refill containers for cleaning products, andbottles using less plastic.Environmentally-responsible or "green" marketing is a business practice thattakes into account consumer concerns about promoting preservation and conservation ofthe natural environment. Green marketing campaigns highlight the superiorenvironmental protection characteristics of a companys products and services, whetherthose benefits take the form of reduced waste in packaging, increased energy efficiencyin product use, or decreased release of toxic emissions and other pollutants in production.True green marketing emphasizes environmental stewardship.Meaning:1. GREEN CONSUMERISM: Green consumerism refers to recycling,purchasing and using eco-friendly products that minimize damage to theenvironment. This involves decisions such as using Energy Start appliances thatconsume less power, buying hybrid cars that emit less carbon dioxide, using solarand wind power to generate electricity and buying locally grown vegetables andfruits.More and more businesses and industries are joining in the green movement,either out of a real interest in saving the planet or a desire to capitalize on thegrowing consumer demand for greener ways. For example, Wal-Mart anticipatessavings to the tune of billions of dollars by reducing packaging across the supplychain and Wells Fargo issues carbon credits to offset its customers credit cardpurchases.
  3. 3. The Green Consumer:Without getting technical, a green consumer is someone who is very concerned about theenvironment and, therefore, only purchases products that are environmentally-friendly oreco-friendly. Products with little or no packaging, products made from natural ingredientsand products that are made without causing pollution are all examples of eco-friendlyproducts. The green consumer would be the type to drive a hybrid vehicle, buy productsmade with hemp or those made from recycled materials.Objectives:1. To know the characteristics of Green Product.2. To enhance the steps towards green promotion.3. To know the impact of Green Consumerism4. To observe the necessity of green consumerism in various aspects.5. To evaluate the reaction towards Green Consumerism.Green Products:In the book The Green Consumer, John Elkington, Julia Hailes, and John Makowerdiscussed several characteristics that a product must have to be regarded as a "green"product. They contended that a green product should not:• Endanger the health of people or animals• Damage the environment at any stage of its life, including manufacture, use, anddisposal• Consume a disproportionate amount of energy and other resources duringmanufacture, use, or disposal• Cause unnecessary waste, either as a result of excessive packaging or a shortuseful life• Involve the unnecessary use of or cruelty to animals
  4. 4. • Use materials derived from threatened species or environmentsJ. Stephen Shi and Jane M. Kane, meanwhile, noted in Business Horizons that theconsulting firm FIND/SVP also judged a products friendliness to the environment byultimately simple measurements:FIND/SVP considers a product to be green if it runs cleaner, works better, or savesmoney and energy through an efficiency. Businesses practice being green when theyvoluntarily recycle and attempt to reduce waste in their daily operations. Practicing greenis inherently proactive; it means finding ways to reduce waste and otherwise be moreenvironmentally responsible, before being forced to do so through governmentregulations. Green promotion, however, requires businesses to be honest with consumersand not mislead them by over promising."LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS:Most analysts agree that the "life" of the product and its parts is one of the mostimportant components in determining whether a product is "green" or not. Most peoplethink only of the process of creating a product when gauging whether a product is green,but in reality, products impact on the environment at several additional stages of theiruseful lives. Life cycle analysis (LCA) and/or product line analysis (PLA) studiesmeasure the cumulative environmental impact of products over their entire life cyclefrom raction of the resources used to create the product to all aspects of production(refining, manufacturing, and transportation) to its use and ultimate disposal. Thesestudies are sometimes referred to as "cradle to grave" studies. Since such studies trackresource use, energy requirements, and waste generation in order to provide comparativebenchmarks, both manufacturers and consumers can select products that have the leastimpact upon the natural environment. Some detractors of LCA studies, though—whilegranting that they do provide useful information—contend that they are subjective insetting analysis boundaries and claim that it is difficult to compare the environmentalimpact of disparate products.Green Promotion:Perhaps no area of green marketing has received as much attention as promotion. In fact,green advertising claims grew so rapidly during the late 1980s that the Federal TradeCommission (FTC) issued guidelines to help reduce consumer confusion and prevent thefalse or misleading use of terms such as "recyclable," "degradable," and "environmentallyfriendly" in environmental advertising. Since that time, the FTC has continues to offergeneral guidelines for companies wishing to make environmental claims as part of theirpromotional efforts:• Qualifications and disclosures should be sufficiently clear and prominent toprevent deception.
  5. 5. • Environmental claims should make clear whether they apply to the product, thepackage, or a component of either. Claims need to be qualified with regard tominor, incidental components of the product or package.• Environmental claims should not overstate the environmental attribute or benefit.Marketers should avoid implying a significant environmental benefit where thebenefit is, in fact, negligible.• A claim comparing the environmental attributes of one product with those ofanother product should make the basis for the comparison sufficiently clear andshould be substantiated.The FTC regulations apply to all aspects and forms of marketing, including labeling,advertising, and promotional materials. "When a business makes any environmentalclaim, it must be able to support that claim with reliable scientific evidence," summarizedShi and Kane. "A corporation trumpeting an environmental benefit that it is unable tosubstantiate is treading on thin ice and leaving itself open to substantial penalties if alegal suit is brought against the company."In addition to delineating marketing claims that might be regarded as false or misleading,the FTC also provides guidance to businesses on how to make specific claims aboutenvironmentally-friendly aspects of their operation, in part by clarifying the definitions ofsuch commonly used terms as "recyclable," "biodegradable," and "compostable." Theseguidelines were issued (and remain in force) not only to curb businesses engaged inmisleading advertising practices, but also to clarify the regulatory environment forcompanies. Various entities, from states and cities to industry groups and standards-setting organizations, had developed their own definitions in the years prior to thepublication of the FTC report precisely because of the dearth of federal guidelines. "As aconsequence," said the Encyclopedia of the Environment, "marketers faced a patchworkand sometimes costly marketplace where relabeling, legal actions, and negative publicitycan create additional costs, can cause market share losses, and may deter some frommaking credible claims altogether."Eco-Sponsoring:One avenue commonly used by companies to promote their specific ecological concerns(or polish their overall reputations as good corporate citizens) is to affiliate themselveswith groups or projects engaged in environmental improvements. In eco-sponsoringssimplest form, firms contribute funds directly to an environmental organization to furtherthe organizations objectives. Another approach is to "adopt" a particular environmentalcause (community recycling programs are popular), thus demonstrating the companysinterest in supporting environmental protection efforts. Sponsorships of educationalprograms, wildlife refuges, and park or nature area clean-up efforts also communicateconcern for environmental issues. Environmental organizations charge, however, thatsome businesses use eco-sponsorships to hide fundamentally rapacious attitudes towardthe environment.Eco-Labeling:
  6. 6. Another vehicle that has been used with increasing frequency in recent years to conveyenvironmental information to consumers is "eco-labeling." Ecolabeling programs aretypically voluntary, third-party expert assessments of the environmental impacts ofproducts. "By performing a thorough evaluation of a product, but awarding only a simplelogo on packages, ecolabels offer consumers clear guidance based on expertinformation," claimed the Encyclopedia of the Environment, which noted thatgovernment-sponsored ecolabeling programs have been launched with great success inmany areas of the world, including Europe, Canada, and Japan. Indeed, those programs,which provide consumers with easily understandable information on the mostenvironmentally sensitive products and services in various market areas, can be a potentfactor in guiding the purchasing decisions of consumers. Recognition may be given forseveral different reasons. For instance, a product may have particularly low pollutant ornoise emissions, give off less waste material in its production, or be more recyclable thancompeting products.Eco-labeling programs increase awareness of environmental issues, set high standards forfirms to work towards, and help reduce consumer uncertainty regarding a productsenvironmental benefits. Thus far, however, the U.S. government has resisted institutingan officially-sanctioned eco-labeling program.Main impacts of Green Products:Consumers have been asking for green products, i.e there has been a clear raise indemand for such products.• Businesses have looked into the green process - generating corporateenvironmental profiles, monitoring and evaluating green performance, andimproving corporate image as a result.• Green products have also increased competition among businesses to generatemore environmentally friendly products.• Ecolabelling networks that monitor and evaluate green products have beendeveloped in many countries. These networks have done life cycle analyses tounderstand the impact of products.• Governments have also taken several measures that have supported and facilitatedsuch moves by businesses.Green consumerism creates a balance between the expectations of consumerbehaviour and businesses profit motives. Points to be noted:• Markets dont wait for slow movers. Businesses that innovate and respond quicklyto consumer demands survive best.• Everyone has a part to play, at various levels of administration, manufacture anduse.• A consumer has to realize that he/she not just buys a product, but everything thatwent into its production, and everything that will happen in the future as a resultof that product.
  7. 7. • All products have an environmental impact, however small. The idea is to reduceit to the minimum.Necessity of Green Consumerism in various aspects:• Health: A sentary lifestyle combined with health impacts of environmentalpollution and emissions, use and abuse of pesticides, anti-biotics etc.• Population and consumption: Population increases, aging populations,consumption patterns - living beyond means, etc.• Globalization: Transboundary effect and free trade have both advantages(efficiency, profits, opportunities, demand) and disadvantages (unemployment,footloose companies, weaker controls, unfair trade, small scale loses out) etc.• Energy: Every source of energy has an environmental impact. Energy efficiencyis not just technology, but also cutting back. There are enough cars to create a six-lane traffic jam to the moon.• Water: Water use is increasing at twice the rate of population increase. Much canbe done at the individual level.• Chemicals: Use of pesticides and other hazardous chemicals. PCB?DDT hasbeen found in mothers milk too! Ozone depleting chemicals, hormone-disruptingchemicals have long term effects on human health and well-being.• Genetic engineering: Includes many ethical and moral issues, includingmisinformation. Not that genetic engineering is bad - but the consumer should begiven the choice.• Natural World: Considerable pressures put on the natural world due topopulation increases and rise in consumption. 40% of all plant growth consumedby humans! Somewhere, something should stop.• Ethics: The treatment of other peoples. Issues of gender, children, animalwelfare. Ethics of cloning, fertility et al.• Fair Trade: Nee to look into working conditions (child labour, low wages, longhours, lack of safety, mass production v/s craft industries.• Neighbourhoods: Development of a sense of community. Increase in financialwealth, but also of quality of life. Measure "gross national happiness"!!• Childhood: Loss of childhood due to societal pressures and expectations,knowledge and skills, etc.Reactions to "green Consumerism"A number of factors have caused business firms in some industries to incorporate anenvironmental ethic into their operations. The principal factor, of course, is the growingpublic awareness of the environmental degradation that has resulted as a consequence ofthe growth in population and natural resource consumption throughout the world duringthe last 50 years. The issue is particularly relevant in America, which accounts for fully
  8. 8. one quarter of world consumption despite having only a small fraction of the worldspopulation. This growing public awareness of environmental issues has brought with it acorresponding change in the buying decisions of a significant segment of Americanconsumers. As the Encyclopedia of the Environment observed, "many consumers, and notjust the most environmentally conscious, are seeking ways to lessen the environmentalimpacts of their personal buying decisions through the purchase and use of products andservices perceived to be environmentally preferable."Businesses took heed of this growth in "green consumerism," and new marketingcampaigns were devised to reflect this new strain of thought among consumers.Companies with product lines that were created in an environmentally friendly fashion(i.e., with recycled products, comparatively low pollutant emissions, and so on) quicklylearned to shape their marketing message to highlight such efforts and to reach thosecustomers most likely to appreciate those efforts (an advertisement highlighting acompanys recycling efforts, for instance, is more likely to appear in an outdoor/naturemagazine than a general interest periodical).Ironically, studies have shown that the most environmentally aware consumers are alsothe ones most likely to view green claims of companies with skepticism. As George M.Zinkhan and Les Carlson wrote in the Journal of Advertising, "green consumers are thevery segment most likely to distrust advertisers and are quite likely to pursue behavioursand activities that confound business people." Corporate reputation, then, has emerged asa tremendously important factor in reaching and keeping these consumers. A companythat touts its sponsorship of an outdoor oriented event or utilizes nature scenery in itsadvertising, but also engages in practices harmful to the environment, is unlikely to gain asignificant portion of the green consumer market. Of course, such tactics are sometimeseffective in reaching less informed sectors of the marketplace.Environmental or green marketing differs from other forms of advertising in some fairlyfundamental ways. The Encyclopedia of the Environment summarized the most strikingdifferences effectively:"First, unlike, price, quality, and other features, the environmental impacts of a productare not always apparent and may not affect the purchaser directly. Thus environmentalclaims are often more abstract and offer consumers the opportunity to act on theirenvironmental concerns.Second, unlike most advertised product attributes, environmental claims may apply to thefull product life cycle, from raw material extraction to ultimate product disposal, reuse, orrecycling.Third, and most important, environmental marketing provides an incentive formanufacturers to achieve significant environmental improvements, such as toxics usereduction and recycling, by competing on the basis of minimizing environmental impactsof their products."
  9. 9. Conclusion:The study reports of the connection between lifestyle and green commitment. Lifestyle ismeasured by consumption styles and green commitment by certain environment-relatedconsumption choices. The results suggest that different lifestyles explain greencommitment better than traditional socio-economic background variables. The effect ofpostmodernism on green consumer behaviour is, thus, discussed. It is concluded that theconcept of the ‘green’ consumer is over-simplified and fails to capture the actualcomplexity of consumer values, attitudes and behaviour. The results are based on existingliterature. On the whole, the paper argues that as a private lifestyle project of a singleindividual, ‘green consumerism’ is much too heavy a responsibility to bear. Indeed,marketing campaigns touting the environmental ethics of companies and theenvironmental advantages of their products have proliferated in recent years.
  10. 10. Conclusion:The study reports of the connection between lifestyle and green commitment. Lifestyle ismeasured by consumption styles and green commitment by certain environment-relatedconsumption choices. The results suggest that different lifestyles explain greencommitment better than traditional socio-economic background variables. The effect ofpostmodernism on green consumer behaviour is, thus, discussed. It is concluded that theconcept of the ‘green’ consumer is over-simplified and fails to capture the actualcomplexity of consumer values, attitudes and behaviour. The results are based on existingliterature. On the whole, the paper argues that as a private lifestyle project of a singleindividual, ‘green consumerism’ is much too heavy a responsibility to bear. Indeed,marketing campaigns touting the environmental ethics of companies and theenvironmental advantages of their products have proliferated in recent years.