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Green Marketing Myopia – ways to improve environmentally preferred products

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Marketing Myopia

In 1960 Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt in Harvard Business Review article introduced the classic concept of “marketing myopia” to describe businesses’ narrow vision on product features rather than consumer benefits , which means the companies grow on product oriented not customer oriented (Levitt, 1960).[1] Marketing Myopia suggests that businesses will do better in the end if they concentrate on meeting customers’ needs rather than on selling products. The company’s focus is on “managing products” called corporate preoccupation on products rather than meeting customer needs. Though the article written in 1960, it is still appropriate and insightful, ripe with ideas about sales, marketing and reinvention. To avoid marketing myopia businesses must engage in “creative destruction” described by Joseph Schumpeter as destroying existing products, production methods, market structures and consumption patterns, and replacing them with ways that better meet ever changing consumer desires[2].

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Green Marketing

Green Marketing is marketing the products/services that are presumed to be environmentally safe. Excessive pollution has provoked nature and the nature has started to behave in unnatural ways such as global warming, tsunami, global cooling, draught, frequent earthquakes, cyclones and other natural calamities. Economic growth threatens peaceful life of human on earth via production and consumption. Green Marketing attempts to protect consumer wellbeing and environment through production, consumption and disposal of eco- friendly products. Grocers and restaurants promote non- genetically modified food, locally sourced produce and more companies like P&G, Toyota’s Prius hybrid, Mobil, Ben and Jerry’s, Whole foods, Starbucks, Johnson and Johnson promote green marketing.

Green Marketing Myopia

The main objectives of green marketing are improved environmental quality and customer satisfaction. Misjudging either or overemphasizing the former at the expense of the latter can be termed “green marketing myopia”. Research indicates that many green products have failed because of green marketing myopia—marketers’ myopic focus on their products’ “greenness” over the broader expectations of consumers or other market players. To avoid green marketing myopia, marketers must fulfill consumer needs and interests beyond what is good for the environment. When consumers are convinced of the desirable “non-green” benefits of environmental products, they are more inclined to adopt them (Ottman, et. al., 2006).[3] Philips introduced “Earthlight” to communicate about CFL bulbs to the green consumer, but failed and launched as “Marathon”. There are loads of green products available in the market but not marketed with the green benefits. The vast majority of consumers, however, will ask, “If I use ‘green’ products, what’s in it for me (Ottman, et. al.,2006)?”

Successful strategies to avoid green marking myopia

successful green products have avoided green marketing myopia by the following Three important principles- The three C’s of Consumer value positioning, Calibration of consumer knowledge, Credibility of product claims.

  • Consumer value positioning - many consumers have adopted products thinking that are green that need not be adopted for environmental / ecological reasons but because of perceived benefits. There are at least five desirable benefits that are commonly associated with the green product that is efficiency and cost effectiveness, health and safety, performance, symbolism and status, and convenience which will achieve a greater appeal among the consumers. For example, on efficiency and cost effectiveness, P & G, Tide cold water was designed to clean clothes effectively in cold water as around 85% of energy used to wash clothes come from heating water. Adopting Tide cold water gives added confidence to consumers already washing in Cold water. In P & G there is an opportunity for the products offering efficiency and savings intended for market growth.
  • Market positioning on consumer safety and health can achieve appeal over health conscious consumers. Sales of organic foods have significantly grown. For example, free- range animal ranching and pesticide free soil.
  • Calibration of consumer knowledge – Consumers need to be educated with the marketing messages that connect environmental / green product attributes with desired consumer value. Consumers must be necessarily educated about the green products are not the solutions to the personal needs but also a solution to the ecological needs. For example, “pesticide- free produce is healthier”, “solar power is convenient”, “energy – efficiency saves money”. The marketers need to frame environmental product attributes as “solutions” for consumer needs. For example, Rayovac positioned “rechargeable batteries offer longer performance” for heavy users to “renewable batteries” and save the empty batteries to go the landfills. Advertisement also plays a vital role in drawing attention to how the ecological product benefit can deliver desired personal value and can broaden the consumers’ acceptance towards the green products.
  • Credibility of product claims- credibility is the foundation of effective green marketing. Green products must meet the consumers’ expectations and deliver the promised customer value by providing environmental benefits. For example, Toyota dismisses the slogan for Prius, “Drive Green breathe blue” in fuel efficiency and stated “less gas in. Less gas out”. Environment claims must be humble and not over-promise. Green product attributes need to communicate honestly and qualified for believability. For example, Toyota includes an “actual mileage may vary” disclaimer in Pirus advertising. Ford launched the “fuel economy school” campaign to educate drivers about ways to maximize fuel efficiency. P& G partnered with Alliance to Save Energy in a viral marketing campaign to widen news about the money saving benefits of laundering clothes in cold water consumers were encouraged to visit Tide.com ‘s interactive website and take cold water challenge by registering to receive a free sample. To facilitate “word of mouse challenge”, the marketers need to create convincing messages, stories and websites about the products that are interesting and entertaining to the consumers. So that the consumers become so fascinated and forward those messages to their friends an relatives. P& G was able to achieve this for a low involvement product is quite significant.

 

Conclusion- The future of green marketing

The three C’s suggested by Ottman, J. A., can be followed to avoid green marketing myopia. We need effective marketing principles to make green products desirable for consumers along with good green marketing strategies. It is just giving what the customers want. P & G’s successful implementation of Ottman ‘s Three C’s - Consumer value positioning on money savings, Calibration of consumer knowledge cold wash effectiveness via internet and website , Credibility of product claims through the consumer group and networks. To avoid Green marketing myopia, the marketers must fulfill consumer needs and interests beyond what is good for the environment.

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References

Farah, S. (2005). “The Thin Green Line.” CMO Magazine. 1 December 2005.

Levitt, T. (1960). “Marketing Myopia,” Harvard Business Review 28, July-August (1960): 24–47. Reprint. Retrieved from http://www.casadogalo.com/marketingmyopia.pdf

Ottman, J. A., Stafford, E. R., Hartman, C. L. (June, 2006). Avoiding Green marketing Myopia: Ways to Improve Consumer Appeal for Environmentally Preferable Products. Environment. Volume 48, Number 5, pages 22—36. Heldref Publications. http://www.heldref.org/env.php


[1] Levitt, T. (1960). “Marketing Myopia,” Harvard Business Review 28, July-August (1960): 24–47. Reprint. Retrieved from http://www.casadogalo.com/marketingmyopia.pdf


[2] J.Schumpeter, The Theory of Economic Development


[3] Ottman, J. A., Stafford, E. R., Hartman, C. L. (June, 2006). Avoiding Green marketing Myopia: Ways to Improve Consumer Appeal for Environmentally Preferable Products. Environment. Volume 48, Number 5, pages 22—36. Heldref Publications. http://www.heldref.org/env.php