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06 > JUNE 2006

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This article was published in the June 2006 issue of Environment.
Volume 48, Number 5, pages 22—36. © Heldref Publications, 2006.
I N 1994 , Philips launched the “EarthLight,”
a super energy-efficient compact fluores-
cent light (CFL) bulb designed to be an
environmentally preferable substitute for
the traditional energy-intensive incandes-
cent bulb. The CFL’s clumsy shape, however,
was incompatible with most conventional
lamps, and sales languished. After study-
ing consumer response, Philips reintro-
duced the product in 2000 under the name
“Marathon,” to emphasize the bulb’s five-
year life. New designs offered the look and
versatility of conventional incandescent
light bulbs and the promise of more than
$20 in energy savings over the product’s
life span compared to incandescent bulbs.
The new bulbs were also certified by the


by Jacquelyn A. Ottman,
Edwin R. Stafford,
and Cathy L. Hartman
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s over foreign oil dependency, and calls for either succeeded or failed in the market-
(EPA) Energy Star label. Repositioning energy conservation are creating business place over the past decade, some impor-
CFL bulbs’ features into advantages that opportunities for energy-efficient products, tant lessons emerge for crafting effective
resonated with consumer values—con- clean energy, and other environmentally- green marketing and product strategies.10
venience, ease-of-use, and credible cost sensitive innovations and products—col- Based on the evidence, successful green
savings—ultimately sparked an annual lectively known as “cleantech”5 (see the products are able to appeal to mainstream
sales growth of 12 percent in a mature box on page 26). For example, Pulitzer consumers or lucrative market niches and
product market.1 Prize–winning author and New York Times frequently command price premiums by
Philips’ experience provides a valuable columnist Thomas L. Friedman argues that offering “non-green” consumer value
lesson on how to avoid the common pit- government policy and industry should (such as convenience and performance).
fall of “green marketing myopia.” Philips engage in a “geo-green” strategy to pro-
called its original entry “EarthLight” to mote energy efficiency, renewable energy,
communicate the CFL bulbs’ environmen- and other cleantech innovations to help Green Marketing Myopia
tal advantage. While noble, the benefit alleviate the nation’s dependency on oil Defined
appealed to only the deepest green niche from politically conflicted regions of the
of consumers. The vast majority of con- world.6 Friedman asserts that such inno- Green marketing must satisfy two
sumers, however, will ask, “If I use ‘green’ vations can spark economic opportunity objectives: improved environmental qual-
products, what’s in it for me?” In practice, and address the converging global chal- ity and customer satisfaction. Misjudging
green appeals are not likely to attract main- lenges of rising energy prices, terrorism, either or overemphasizing the former at
stream consumers unless they also offer climate change, and the environmental the expense of the latter can be termed
a desirable benefit, such as cost-savings consequences of the rapid economic devel- “green marketing myopia.” In 1960, Har-
or improved product performance.2 To opment of China and India. vard business professor Theodore Lev-
avoid green marketing myopia, marketers To exploit these economic opportuni- itt introduced the concept of “marketing
must fulfill consumer needs and interests ties to steer global commerce onto a more myopia” in a now-famous and influential
beyond what is good for the environment. sustainable path, however, green products article in the Harvard Business Review.11


Although no consumer product has a must appeal to consumers outside the In it, he characterized the common pit-
zero impact on the environment, in busi- traditional green niche.7 Looking at sus- fall of companies’ tunnel vision, which
ness, the terms “green product” and “envi- tainability from a green engineering per- focused on “managing products” (that is,
ronmental product” are used commonly spective, Arnulf Grubler recently wrote product features, functions, and efficient
to describe those that strive to protect or in Environment, “To minimize environ- production) instead of “meeting custom-
enhance the natural environment by con- mental impacts by significant orders of ers’ needs” (that is, adapting to consumer
serving energy and/or resources and reduc- magnitude requires the blending of good expectations and anticipation of future
ing or eliminating use of toxic agents, pol- engineering with good economics as well desires). Levitt warned that a corporate
lution, and waste.3 Paul Hawken, Amory as changing consumer preferences.”8 The preoccupation on products rather than
Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins write in marketing discipline has long argued that consumer needs was doomed to failure
their book Natural Capitalism: Creat- innovation must consider an intimate because consumers select products and
ing the Next Industrial Revolution that understanding of the customer,9 and a new innovations that offer benefits they
greener, more sustainable products need close look at green marketing practices desire. Research indicates that many green
to dramatically increase the productiv- over time reveals that green products products have failed because of green
ity of natural resources, follow biological/ must be positioned on a consumer value marketing myopia—marketers’ myopic
cyclical production models, encourage sought by targeted consumers. focus on their products’ “greenness” over
dematerialization, and reinvest in and Drawing from past research and an the broader expectations of consumers or
contribute to the planet’s “natural” capi- analysis of the marketing appeals and other market players (such as regulators
tal.4 Escalating energy prices, concerns strategies of green products that have or activists).


For example, partially in response to erences, green marketing myopia can When consumers are convinced of the
the 1987 Montreal Protocol, in which also occur when green products fail to desirable “non-green” benefits of environ-
signatory countries (including the Unit- provide credible, substantive environ- mental products, they are more inclined to
ed States) agreed to phase out ozone- mental benefits. Mobil’s Hefty photo- adopt them.
depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by degradable plastic trash bag is a case in Other environmental products have
2000, Whirlpool (in 1994) launched the point. Introduced in 1989, Hefty packages also scored market successes by either
“Energy Wise” refrigerator, the first CFC- prominently displayed the term “degrad- serving profitable niche markets or offer-
free cooler and one that was 30 percent able” with the explanation that a special ing mainstream appeal. Consider the Toy-
more efficient than the U.S. Department ingredient promoted its decomposition ota Prius, the gas-electric hybrid vehicle
of Energy’s highest standard.12 For its into harmless particles in landfills “acti- that achieves about 44 miles per gallon
innovation, Whirlpool won the “Golden vated by exposure to the elements” such of gasoline.19 In recent years, Toyota’s
Carrot,” a $30 million award package as sun, wind, and rain. Because most production has hardly kept pace with
of consumer rebates from the Super- garbage is buried in landfills
Efficient Refrigerator Program, spon- that allow limited exposure
sored by the Natural Resources Defense to the elements, making deg-
Council and funded by 24 electric utili- radation virtually impossi-
ties. Unfortunately, Energy Wise’s sales ble, the claim enraged envi-
languished because the CFC-free ben- ronmentalists. Ultimately,
efit and energy-savings did not offset its seven state attorneys gen-
$100 to $150 price premium, particularly eral sued Mobil on charges
in markets outside the rebate program, of deceptive advertising
and the refrigerators did not offer addi- and consumer fraud. Mobil
tional features or new styles that con- removed the claim from its
sumers desired.13 General Motors (GM) packaging and vowed to use
and Ford encountered similar problems extreme caution in making
when they launched their highly publi- environmental claims in
cized EV-1 and Think Mobility electric the future.17
vehicles, respectively, in the late 1990s to Other fiascos have con-
early 2000s in response to the 1990 zero- vinced many companies and
emission vehicle (ZEV) regulations consumers to reject green
adopted in California.14 Both automakers products. Roper ASW’s 2002
believed their novel two-seater cars would “Green Gauge Report” finds
be market successes (GM offered the EV-1 that the top reasons consumers do not the growing demand, with buyers endur-
in a lease program, and Ford offered Think buy green products included beliefs that ing long waits and paying thousands
Mobility vehicles as rentals via the Hertz they require sacrifices—inconvenience, above the car’s sticker price.20 Conse-
car-rental chain). Consumers, however, higher costs, lower performance—with- quently, other carmakers have scrambled
found electric vehicles’ need for constant out significant environmental benefits.18 to launch their own hybrids.21 However,
recharging with few recharging locations Ironically, despite what consumers think, despite higher gas prices, analysts assert
too inconvenient. Critics charged that the a plethora of green products available that it can take 5 to 20 years for lower
automakers made only token efforts to in the marketplace are in fact desirable gas expenses to offset many hybrid cars’
make electric cars a success, but a GM because they deliver convenience, lower higher prices. Thus, economics alone
spokesperson recently explained, “We operating costs, and/or better performance. cannot explain their growing popularity.
spent more than $1 billion to produce Often these are not marketed along with Analysts offer several reasons for the
and market the vehicle, [but] fewer than their green benefits, so consumers do not Prius’ market demand. Initially, the buzz
800 were leased.”15 Most drivers were not immediately recognize them as green and over the Prius got a boost at the 2003
willing to drastically change their driving form misperceptions about their benefits. Academy Awards when celebrities such
habits and expectations to accommodate For instance, the appeal of premium-priced as Cameron Diaz, Harrison Ford, Susan
electric cars, and the products ultimately Marathon and other brands of CFL bulbs Sarandon, and Robin Williams aban-
were taken off the market.16 can be attributed to their energy savings doned stretch limousines and oversized
Aside from offering environmental and long life, qualities that make them sport utility vehicles, arriving in Priuses
benefits that do not meet consumer pref- convenient and economical over time. to symbolize support for reducing Amer-

ica’s dependence on foreign oil.22 Since for being distinctive. Others say the Prius vehicles, such as Honda’s Insight, are
then, the quirky-looking Prius’ badge of is just fun to drive—the dazzling digital granted free parking and solo-occupancy
“conspicuous conservation” has satis- dashboard that offers continuous feedback access to high occupancy vehicle (HOV)
fied many drivers’ desires to turn heads on fuel efficiency and other car opera- lanes.25 In sum, hybrid vehicles offer con-
and make a statement about their social tions provides an entertaining driving sumers several desirable benefits that are
responsibility, among them Google found- experience. More recently, however, the not necessarily “green” benefits.
ers Larry Page and Sergey Brin, columnist Prius has garnered fans for more practi- Many environmental products have
Arianna Huffington, comic Bill Maher, cal reasons. A 2006 Maritz Poll finds that become so common and widely distrib-
and Charles, Prince of Wales.23 The Prius owners purchased hybrids because of the uted that many consumers may no longer
ultimately was named Motor Trend’s Car convenience of fewer fill-ups, better per- recognize them as green because they buy
of the Year in 2004. The trendy appeal formance, and the enjoyment of driving them for non-green reasons. Green house-
of the Prius illustrates that some green the latest technology.24 In some states, hold products, for instance, are widely
products can leverage consumer desires the Prius and other high-mileage hybrid available at supermarkets and discount


In a 1960 Harvard Business Review markets, and products.4 Throughout the mandates, such as “renewable portfolio
article, Harvard professor Theodore twentieth century, many technologies standards,” requiring utilities to provide
Levitt introduced the classic concept and business practices have contributed increasing amounts of electricity from
of “marketing myopia” to characterize to the destruction of the very ecological clean, renewable sources such as wind
businesses’ narrow vision on product systems on which the economy and life and solar power, are also driving cleaner
features rather than consumer benefits.1 itself depends, including toxic contami- technology markets.
The consequence is that businesses focus nation, depletion of fisheries and for- While some firms have responded
on making better mousetraps rather than ests, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss. grudgingly to such pressures for more
seeking better alternatives for control- Recent news reports indicate, however, efficient and cleaner business prac-
ling pests. To avoid marketing myopia, that many companies and consumers are tices, others are seizing the the clean-
businesses must engage in “creative beginning to respond to programs to help tech innovation opportunities for new
destruction,” described by economist conserve the Earth’s natural resources, twenty-first-century green products and
Joseph Schumpeter as destroying exist- and green marketing is making a come- technologies for competitive advantage.
ing products, production methods, mar- back.5 The need for sustainability has Toyota, for instance, plans to offer an
ket structures and consumption patterns, become more acute economically as all-hybrid fleet in the near future to chal-
and replacing them with ways that better soaring demand, dwindling supplies, lenge competitors on both performance
meet ever-changing consumer desires.2 and rising prices for oil, gas, coal, water, and fuel economy.7 Further, Toyota
The dynamic pattern in which innova- and other natural resources are being is licensing its technology to its com-
tive upstart companies unseat established driven by the industrialization of popu- petitors to gain profit from their hybrid
corporations and industries by capital- lous countries, such as China and India. sales as well. General Electric’s highly
izing on new and improved innovations Politically, America’s significant reliance publicized “Ecomagination” initiative
is illustrated by history. That is, the on foreign oil has become increasingly promises a greener world with a plan to
destruction of Coal Age technologies by recognized as a security threat. Global double its investments (to $1.5 billion
Oil Age innovations, which are being concerns over climate change have led annually) and revenues (to $20 billion)
destroyed by Information Age advances 141 countries to ratify the Kyoto Pro- from fuel-efficient diesel locomotives,
and the emerging Age of Cleantech— tocol, the international treaty requiring wind power, “clean” coal, and other
clean, energy-and resource-efficient the reduction of global warming gases cleaner innovations by 2010.8 Cleantech
energy technologies, such as those created through the burning of fossil is attracting investors looking for the
involving low/zero-emissions, wind, fuels. Although the United States has “Next Big Thing,” including Goldman
solar, biomass, hydrogen, recycling, and not signed the treaty, most multinational Sachs and Kleiner Perkins Caufield &
closed-loop processes.3 corporations conducting business in sig- Byers.9 Wal-Mart, too, is testing a sus-
Business management researchers natory nations are compelled to reduce tainable 206,000-square foot store design
Stuart Hart and Mark Milstein argue their greenhouse gas emissions, and in Texas that deploys 26 energy-saving
that the emerging challenge of global many states (such as California) and cit- and renewable-materials experiments
sustainability is catalyzing a new round ies (such as Chicago and Seattle) have that could set new standards in future
of creative destruction that offers or are initiating their own global warm- retail store construction.10 In sum, eco-
“unprecedented opportunities” for new ing gas emission reduction programs.6 nomic, political, and environmental pres-
environmentally sensitive innovations, State and city-level policy incentives and sures are coalescing to drive cleaner and


retailers, ranging from energy-saving Tide dren’s mental and physical development.26 Depot is testing an ‘EcoOptions’ product
Coldwater laundry detergent to non-toxic Indeed, the organic food market segment line featuring natural fertilizers and mold-
Method and Simple Green cleaning prod- has increased 20 percent annually since resistant drywall in its Canadian stores
ucts. Use of recycled or biodegradable 1990, five times faster than the conven- that may filter into the U.S. market.33 In
paper products (such as plates, towels, tional food market, spurring the growth short, energy efficiency and green con-
napkins, coffee filters, computer paper, of specialty retailers such as Whole Foods struction have become mainstream.
and other goods) is also widespread. Market and Wild Oats. Wal-Mart, too, The diversity and availability of green
Organic and rainforest-protective “shade has joined this extensive distribution of products indicate that consumers are not
grown” coffees are available at Starbucks organic products.27 Indeed, Wal-Mart has indifferent to the value offered by envi-
and other specialty stores and supermar- recently declared that in North American ronmental benefits. Consumers are buying
kets. Organic baby food is expected to stores, its non-farm-raised fresh fish will green—but not necessarily for environmen-
command 12 percent market share in be certified by the Marine Stewardship tal reasons. The market growth of organic
2006 as parents strive to protect their chil- Council as sustainably harvested.28 foods and energy-efficient appliances is
Super energy-efficient appliances and because consumers desire their perceived
fixtures are also becoming popular. Chic, safety and money savings, respectively.34
front-loading washing machines, for Thus, the apparent paradox between what
example, accounted for 25 percent of consumers say and their purchases may
the market in 2004, up from 9 percent in be explained, in part, by green marketing
greener technological innovation in the 2001.29 EPA’s Energy Star label, which myopia—a narrow focus on the green-
twenty-first century, and companies that certifies that products consume up to ness of products that blinds companies
fail to adapt their products and processes
accordingly are destined to suffer from 30 percent less energy than comparable from considering the broader consumer
the consequences of marketing myopia alternatives, is found on products ranging and societal desires. A fixation on prod-
and creative destruction. from major appliances to light fixtures ucts’ environmental merits has resulted
to entire buildings (minimum efficiency frequently in inferior green products (for
standards vary from product to product). example, the original EarthLight and GM’s
1. T. Levitt, “Marketing Myopia,” Harvard The construction industry is becoming EV-1 electric car) and unsatisfying con-
Business Review 28, July-August (1960): 24–47. increasingly green as government and sumer experiences. By contrast, the analy-
2. See J. Schumpeter, The Theory of Economic
Development (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
industry demand office buildings that are sis of past research and marketing strate-
1934); and J. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and “high performance” (for example, super gies finds that successful green products
Democracy (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1942).
energy- and resource-efficient and cost- have avoided green marketing myopia by
3. “Alternate Power: A Change Is in the Wind,”
Business Week, 4 July 2005, 36–37. effective) and “healthy” for occupants following three important principles: “The
4. S. L. Hart and M. B. Milstein, “Global (for example, well-ventilated; constructed Three Cs” of consumer value positioning,
Sustainability and the Creative Destruction of
Industries,” MIT Sloan Management Review 41, Fall
with materials with low or no volatile calibration of consumer knowledge, and
(1999): 23–33. organic compounds [VOC]). The U.S. credibility of product claims.
5. See for example T. Howard, “Being Eco- Green Building Council’s “Leadership
Friendly Can Pay Economically; ‘Green Marketing’
Sees Growth in Sales, Ads,” USA Today, 15 August in Energy and Environmental Design”
2005; and E. R. Stafford, “Energy Efficiency and the (LEED) provides a rigorous rating system Consumer Value Positioning
New Green Marketing,” Environment, March 2003,
8–10. and green building checklist that are rap-
6. J. Ball, “California Sets Emission Goals That idly becoming the standard for environ- The marketing of successfully estab-
Are Stiffer than U.S. Plan,” Wall Street Journal, 2
June 2005; and J. Marglis, “Paving the Way for
mentally sensitive construction.30 lished green products showcases non-
U.S. Emissions Trading,” Grist Magazine, 14 June Home buyers are recognizing the practi- green consumer value, and there are at
cal long-term cost savings and comfort of least five desirable benefits commonly
7. Bloomberg News, “Toyota Says It Plans natural lighting, passive solar heating, and associated with green products: efficiency
Eventually to Offer an All-Hybrid Fleet,” 14 Sep- heat-reflective windows, and a 2006 study and cost effectiveness; health and safety;
tember 2005,
automobiles/14toyota.html. sponsored by home improvement retailer performance; symbolism and status; and
8. J. Erickson, “U.S. Business and Climate Lowe’s found nine out of ten builders convenience. Additionally, when these
Change: Siding with the Marketing?” Sustainability
Radar, June,
surveyed are incorporating energy-saving five consumer value propositions are not
print.cfm?NewsID=28204. features into new homes.31 Additionally, inherent in the green product, successful
9. Business Week, note 3 above. a proliferation of “green” building mate- green marketing programs bundle (that is,
10. Howard, note 5 above.
rials to serve the growing demand has add to the product design or market offer-
emerged.32 Lowe’s competitor The Home ing) desirable consumer value to broaden

the green product’s appeal. In practice, models.35 Consequently, an Energy Star biotic-laced meats, mercury in fish, and
the implication is that product designers product often commands a price pre- genetically modified foods.39 Mainstream
and marketers need to align environ- mium. Whirlpool’s popular Duet front- appeal of organics is not derived from
mental products’ consumer value (such loading washer and dryer, for example, marketers promoting the advantages of
as money savings) to relevant consumer cost more than $2,000, about double the free-range animal ranching and pesticide-
market segments (for example, cost- price of conventional units; however, the free soil. Rather, market positioning of
conscious consumers). washers can save up to 12,000 gallons of organics as flavorful, healthy alternatives
water and $110 on electricity annually to factory-farm foods has convinced con-
Efficiency and Cost compared to standard models (Energy sumers to pay a premium for them.
Effectiveness Star does not rate dryers).36 A study conducted by the Alliance
Laundry detergents are also touting for Environmental Innovation and house-
As exemplified by the Marathon CFL energy savings. Procter & Gamble’s hold products-maker S.C. Johnson found
bulbs, the common inherent benefit of (P&G) newest market entry, Tide Cold- that consumers are most likely to act
many green products is their potential water, is designed to clean clothes effec- on green messages that strongly con-
energy and resource efficiency. Given tively in cold water. About 80 to 85 nect to their personal environments.40
sky-rocketing energy prices and tax incen- percent of the energy used to wash clothes Specifically, findings suggest that the
tives for fuel-efficient cars and energy- comes from heating water. Working with majority of consumers prefer such envi-
saving home improvements and appli- utility companies, P&G found that con- ronmental household product benefits as
sumers could save an average “safe to use around children,” “no toxic
of $63 per year by using cold ingredients,” “no chemical residues,” and
rather than warm water.37 “no strong fumes” over such benefits
Adopting Tide Coldwater as “packaging can be recycled” or “not
gives added confidence to tested on animals.” Seventh Generation,
consumers already washing a brand of non-toxic and environmen-
in cold water. As energy and tally-safe household products, derived its
resource prices continue to name from the Iroquois belief that, “In
soar, opportunities for prod- our every deliberation, we must consider
ucts offering efficiency and the impact of our decisions on the next
savings are destined for mar- seven generations.” Accordingly, its prod-
ket growth. ucts promote the family-oriented value
of making the world a safer place for the
Health and Safety next seven generations.
Indoor air quality is also a growing
Concerns over exposure to concern. Fumes from paints, carpets, fur-
toxic chemicals, hormones, niture, and other décor in poorly venti-
or drugs in everyday prod- lated “sick buildings” have been linked
ucts have made health and to headaches, eye, nose, and throat irrita-
safety important choice con- tion, dizziness, and fatigue among occu-
siderations, especially among pants. Consequently, many manufacturers
vulnerable consumers, such have launched green products to reduce
as pregnant women, children, indoor air pollution. Sherwin Williams,
and the elderly.38 Because for example, offers “Harmony,” a line
ances, long-term savings have convinced most environmental products are grown of interior paints that is low-odor, zero-
cost-conscious consumers to buy green. or designed to minimize or eliminate VOC, and silica-free. And Mohawk sells
Recently, the home appliance industry the use of toxic agents and adulterating EverSet Fibers, a carpet that virtually
made great strides in developing energy- processes, market positioning on con- eliminates the need for harsh chemical
efficient products to achieve EPA’s Ener- sumer safety and health can achieve broad cleaners because its design allows most
gy Star rating. For example, Energy Star appeal among health-conscious consum- stains to be removed with water. Aside
refrigerators use at least 15 percent less ers. Sales of organic foods, for example, from energy efficiency, health and safety
energy and dishwashers use at least 25 have grown considerably in the wake of have been key motivators driving the
percent less energy than do traditional public fear over “mad cow” disease, anti- green building movement.


Performance the cost of pressure-treated pine and 15 recently, Toyota has striven to position its
percent more than cedar or redwood.42 “hybrid synergy drive” system as a cut
The conventional wisdom is that green Likewise, Milgard Windows’ low emis- above other car makers’ hybrid technolo-
products don’t work as well as “non- sivity SunCoat Low-E windows filter the gies with witty slogans such as, “Commute
green” ones. This is a legacy from the first sun in the summer and reduce heat loss in with Nature,” “mpg:),” and “There’s Noth-
generation of environmentally sensitive the winter. While the windows can reduce ing Like That New Planet Smell.”45 Dur-
products that clearly were inferior. Con- a building’s overall energy use, their more ing the 2006 Super Bowl XL game, Ford
sumer perception of green cleaning agents significant benefit comes from helping to launched a similarly humorous commercial
introduced in health food stores in the create a comfortable indoor radiant tem- featuring Kermit the Frog encountering a
1960s and 1970s, for example, was that perature climate and protecting carpets hybrid Escape sports utility vehicle in the
“they cost twice as much to remove half and furniture from harmful ultraviolet forest, and in a twist, changing his tune
the grime.”41 Today, however, many green rays. Consequently, Milgard promotes the with “I guess it is easy being green!”46
products are designed to perform better improved comfort and performance of In business, where office furniture sym-
than conventional ones and can command its SunCoat Low-E windows over con- bolizes the cachet of corporate image and
a price premium. For example, in addition ventional windows. In sum, “high per- status, the ergonomically designed “Think”
to energy efficiency, front-loading wash- formance” positioning can broaden green chair is marketed as the chair “with a brain
ers clean better and are gentler on clothes product appeal. and a conscience.” Produced by Steel-
compared to conventional top-loading case, the world’s largest office furniture
machines because they spin clothes in a Symbolism and Status manufacturer, the Think chair embodies
motion similar to clothes driers and use the latest in “cradle to cradle” (C2C) design
centrifugal force to pull dirt and water As mentioned earlier, the Prius, Toyota’s and manufacturing. C2C, which describes
away from clothes. By contrast, most gas-electric hybrid, has come to epito- products that can be ultimately returned to
top-loading washers use agitators to pull mize “green chic.” According to many technical or biological nutrients, encourages


clothes through tanks of water, reducing automobile analysts, the cool-kid cachet industrial designers to create products free
cleaning and increasing wear on clothes. that comes with being an early adopter of of harmful agents and processes that can
Consequently, the efficiency and high per- the quirky-looking hybrid vehicle trend be recycled easily into new products (such
formance benefits of top-loading washers continues to partly motivate sales.43 Estab- as metals and plastics) or safely returned to
justify their premium prices. lishing a green chic appeal, however, isn’t the earth (such as plant-based materials).47
Homeowners commonly build decks easy. According to popular culture experts, Made without any known carcinogens,
with cedar, redwood, or pressure-treat- green marketing must appear grass-roots the Think chair is 99 percent recyclable;
ed pine (which historically was treat- driven and humorous without sounding it disassembles with basic hand tools in
ed with toxic agents such as arsenic). preachy. To appeal to young people, con- about five minutes, and parts are stamped
Wood requires stain or paint and periodic servation and green consumption need the with icons showing recycling options.48
applications of chemical preservatives for unsolicited endorsement of high-profile Leveraging its award-winning design and
maintenance. Increasingly, however, com- celebrities and connection to cool technol- sleek comfort, the Think chair is positioned
posite deck material made from recycled ogy.44 Prius has capitalized on its evan- as symbolizing the smart, socially respon-
milk jugs and wood fiber, such as Wey- gelical following and high-tech image with sible office. In sum, green products can be
erhaeuser’s ChoiceDek, is marketed as some satirical ads, including a television positioned as status symbols.
the smarter alternative. Composites are commercial comparing the hybrid with
attractive, durable, and low maintenance. Neil Armstrong’s moon landing (“That’s Convenience
They do not contain toxic chemicals and one small step on the accelerator, one giant
never need staining or chemical preserva- leap for mankind”) and product placements Many energy-efficient products offer
tives. Accordingly, they command a price in popular Hollywood films and sitcoms inherent convenience benefits that can
premium—as much as two to three times (such as Curb Your Enthusiasm). More be showcased for competitive advantage.

CFL bulbs, for example, need infrequent or boating or in homes situated off the Given consumer demand for conve-
replacement and gas-electric hybrid cars power grid). That convenience, however, nience, incorporating time-saving or ease-
require fewer refueling stops—benefits is being exploited for other applications. of-use features into green products can
that are highlighted in their marketing In landscaping, for example, self-con- further expand their mainstream accep-
communications. Another efficient alter- tained solar-powered outdoor evening tance. Ford’s hybrid Escape SUV comes
native to incandescent bulbs are light- lights that recharge automatically dur- with an optional 110-volt AC power out-
emitting diodes (LEDs): They are even ing the day eliminate the need for elec- let suitable for work, tailgating, or camp-
more efficient and longer-lasting than trical hookups and offer flexibility for ing. Convenience has also enhanced the
CFL bulbs; emit a clearer, brighter light; reconfiguration. With society’s increasing appeal of Interface’s recyclable FLOR
and are virtually unbreakable even in cold mobility and reliance on electronics, solar carpeting, which is marketed as “practi-
and hot weather. LEDs are used in traf- power’s convenience is also manifest in cal, goof-proof, and versatile.” FLOR
fic lights due to their high-performance solar-powered calculators, wrist watches, comes in modular square tiles with four
convenience. Recently, a city in Idaho and other gadgets, eliminating worries peel-and-stick dots on the back for easy
became a pioneer by adopting LEDs for over dying batteries. Reware’s solar-pow- installation (and pull up for altering, recy-
its annual holiday Festival of Lights. “We ered “Juice Bag” backpack is a popular cling, or washing with water in the sink).
spent so much time replacing strings of portable re-charger for students, profes- Modularity offers versatility to assemble
lights and bulbs,” noted one city official, sionals, and outdoor enthusiasts on the tiles for a custom look. Interface promotes
“[using LEDs] is going to reduce two- go. The Juice Bag’s flexible, waterproof the idea that its carpet tiles can be changed
thirds of the work for us.”49 solar panel has a 16.6-volt capacity to and reconfigured in minutes to dress up a
To encourage hybrid vehicle adoption, generate 6.3 watts to recharge PDAs, cell room for any occasion. The tiles come in
some states and cities are granting their phones, iPods, and other gadgets in about pizza-style boxes for storage, and ease of
drivers the convenience of free parking 2 to 4 hours.52 use is FLOR’s primary consumer appeal.
and solo-occupant access to HOV lanes. Finally, Austin (Texas) Energy’s “Green
A Toyota spokesperson recently told the Bundling Choice” program has led the nation in
Los Angeles Times, “Many customers are renewable energy sales for the past three
telling us the carpool lane is the main rea- Some green products do not offer years.54 In 2006, demand for wind energy
son for buying now.”50 Toyota highlights any of the inherent five consumer- outpaced supply so that the utility resort-
the carpool benefit on its Prius Web site, desired benefits noted above. This ed to selecting new “Green Choice” sub-
and convenience has become an incen- was the case when energy-efficient scribers by lottery.55 While most utilities
tive to drive efficient hybrid cars in traf- and CFC-free refrigerators were intro- find it challenging to sell green electric-
fic-congested states like California and duced in China in the 1990s. While ity at a premium price on its environ-
Virginia. Critics have charged, however, Chinese consumers preferred and were mental merit, Austin Energy’s success
that such incentives clog carpool lanes willing to pay about 15 percent more comes from bundling three benefits that


and reinforce a “one car, one person” for refrigerators that were “energy- appeal to commercial power users: First,
lifestyle over alternative transportation. efficient,” they did not connect the envi- Green Choice customers are recognized
In response, the Virginia legislature has ronmental advantage of “CFC-free” with in broadcast media for their corporate
more recently enacted curbs on hybrid either energy efficiency or savings. Con- responsibility; second, the green power
drivers use of HOV lanes during peak sequently, the “CFC-free” feature had is marketed as “home grown,” appealing
hours, requiring three or more people per little impact on purchase decisions.53 To to Texan loyalties; and third, the program
vehicle, except for those that have been encourage demand, the CFC-free fea- offers a fixed price that is locked in for
grandfathered in.51 ture was bundled with attributes desired 10 years. Because wind power’s cost is
Solar power was once used only for by Chinese consumers, which included derived primarily from the construction of
supplying electricity in remote areas (for energy efficiency, savings, brand/quality, wind farms and is not subject to volatile
example, while camping in the wilderness and outstanding after-sales service. fossil fuel costs, Austin Energy passes


its inherent price stability onto its Green sumers to think implicitly about what else mental product benefit can deliver desired
Choice customers. Thus, companies par- they are “saving”—the logo’s illustration personal value can broaden consumer
ticipating in Green Choice enjoy the pre- of the Earth suggests the answer, educat- acceptance of green products.
dictability of their future energy costs in ing consumers that “saving the Earth” can
an otherwise volatile energy market. also meet consumer self-interest.
In summary, the analysis suggests that The connection between environmental Credibility of Product Claims
successful green marketing programs benefit and consumer value is evident
have broadened the consumer appeal of in Earthbound Farm Organic’s slogan, Credibility is the foundation of effec-
green products by convincing consum- “Delicious produce is our business, but tive green marketing. Green products
ers of their “non-green” consumer value. health is our bottom line,” which com- must meet or exceed consumer expecta-
The lesson for crafting effective green municates that pesticide-free produce tions by delivering their promised con-
marketing strategies is that planners need is flavorful and healthy. Likewise, Tide sumer value and providing substantive
to identify the inherent consumer value Coldwater’s “Deep Clean. Save Green.” environmental benefits. Often, consum-
of green product attributes (for example, slogan not only assures consumers of the ers don’t have the expertise or ability to
energy efficiency’s inherent long-term detergent’s cleaning perfor-
money savings) or bundle desired con- mance, but the term “green”
sumer value into green products (such offers a double meaning,
as fixed pricing of wind power) and to connecting Tide’s cost sav-
draw marketing attention to this con- ing with its environmental
sumer value. benefit. Citizen’s solar-pow-
ered Eco-Drive watch’s slo-
gan, “Unstoppable Caliber,”
Calibration of Consumer communicates the product’s
Knowledge convenience and perfor-
mance (that is, the battery
Many of the successful green products will not die) as well as pres-
in the analysis described here employ tige. Table 1 on page 32
compelling, educational marketing mes- shows other successful mar-
sages and slogans that connect green keting messages that educate
product attributes with desired consumer consumers of the inherent
value. That is, the marketing programs consumer value of green.
successfully calibrated consumer knowl- Some compelling market-
edge to recognize the green product’s ing communications educate
consumer benefits. In many instances, the consumers to recognize green products as verify green products’ environmental and
environmental benefit was positioned as “solutions” for their personal needs and consumer values, creating misperceptions
secondary, if mentioned at all. Changes the environment.56 When introducing its and skepticism. As exemplified in the case
made in EPA’s Energy Star logo provide Renewal brand, Rayovac positioned the of Mobil’s Hefty photodegradable plastic
an example, illustrating the program’s reusable alkaline batteries as a solution for trash bag described earlier, green market-
improved message calibration over the heavy battery users and the environment ing that touts a product’s or a company’s
years. One of Energy Star’s early market- with concurrent ads touting “How to save environmental credentials can spark the
ing messages, “EPA Pollution Preventer,” $150 on a CD player that costs $100” and scrutiny of advocacy groups or regulators.
was not only ambiguous but myopical- “How to save 147 batteries from going For example, although it was approved by
ly focused on pollution rather than a to landfills.” Complementing the money the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,
more mainstream consumer benefit. A savings and landfill angles, another ad in sugar substitute Splenda’s “Made from
later promotional message, “Saving The the campaign featured sports star Michael sugar, so it tastes like sugar” slogan and
Earth. Saving Your Money.” better asso- Jordan proclaiming, “More Power. More claim of being “natural” have been chal-
ciated energy efficiency with consumer Music. And More Game Time.” to con- lenged by the Sugar Association and Gen-
value, and one of its more recent slogans, nect Renewal batteries’ performance to eration Green, a health advocacy group,
“Money Isn’t All You’re Saving,” touts convenience.57 In practice, the analysis as misleading given that its processing
economic savings as the chief benefit. conducted here suggests that advertising results in a product that is “unrecogniz-
This newest slogan also encourages con- that draws attention to how the environ- able as sugar.”58

To be persuasive, past research suggests agencies, private consultants, or non- and bolster the believability of product
that green claims should be specific and profit advocacy organizations) can pro- claims.65 The “Energy Star” label, dis-
meaningful.59 Toyota recognizes the ambi- vide green product endorsements and/ cussed earlier, is a common certifica-
guity of the term “green” and discourages or “seals of approval” to help clarify tion that distinguishes certain electronic
its use in its marketing of its gas-electric
hybrid cars. One proposed slogan, “Drive
Table 1. Marketing messages connecting green products
green, breathe blue” was dismissed in
favor of specific claims about fuel effi- with desired consumer value
ciency, such as “Less gas in. Less gas- Value Message and business/product
ses out.”60 Further, environmental claims
Efficiency and cost effectiveness “The only thing our washer will shrink is
must be humble and not over-promise. your water bill.”
When Ford Motor Company publicized —ASKO
in National Geographic and other maga-
zines its new eco-designed Rouge River “Did you know that between 80 and
85 percent of the energy used to wash
Plant that incorporated the world’s largest
clothes comes from heating the water?
living roof of plants, critics questioned
Tide Coldwater—The Coolest Way to
the authenticity of Ford’s environmental Clean.”
commitment given the poor fuel economy —Tide Coldwater Laundry Detergent
of the automaker’s best-selling SUVs.61
Even the Prius has garnered some criticism “mpg:)”
—Toyota Prius
for achieving considerably less mileage
(approximately 26 percent less according Health and safety “20 years of refusing to farm with toxic
to Consumer Reports) than its govern- pesticides. Stubborn, perhaps. Healthy,
ment sticker rating claims, although the most definitely.”
actual reduced mileage does not appear to —Earthbound Farm Organic
be hampering sales.62 Nonetheless, green “Safer for You and the Environment.”
product attributes need to be communicat- —Seventh Generation
ed honestly and qualified for believability Household Cleaners
(in other words, consumer benefits and
environmental effectiveness claims need Performance “Environmentally friendly stain removal.
to be compared with comparable alterna- It’s as simple as H2O.”
—Mohawk EverSet Fibers Carpet
tives or likely usage scenarios). For exam-
ple, Toyota includes an “actual mileage “Fueled by light so it runs forever. It’s
may vary” disclaimer in Prius advertising. unstoppable. Just like the people who
When Ford’s hybrid Escape SUV owners wear it.”
complained that they were not achieving —Citizen Eco-Drive Sport Watch
expected mileage ratings, Ford launched Symbolism “Think is the chair with a brain and a
the “Fuel-Economy School” campaign to conscience.”
educate drivers about ways to maximize —Steelcase’s Think Chair
fuel efficiency.63 Further, EPA is recon-
“Make up your mind, not just your face.”
sidering how it estimates hybrid mileage
—The Body Shop
ratings to better reflect realistic driving
conditions (such as heavy acceleration and Convenience “Long life for hard-to-reach places.”
air conditioner usage).64 —General Electric’s CFL Flood Lights

Bundling “Performance and luxury fueled by

Third Party Endorsements innovative technology.”
and Eco-Certifications —Lexus RX400h Hybrid
Sports Utility Vehicle
Expert third parties with respected stan-
dards for environmental testing (such SOURCE: Compiled by J.A. Ottman, E.R. Stafford, and C.L. Hartman, 2006.
as independent laboratories, government


products as consuming up to 30 percent tiative, which range from fuel-efficient at almost the same pace. There is huge
less energy than comparable alternatives. aircraft engines to wind turbines to water environmental value in developing ways
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s treatment technologies. Only those pass- to mitigate these plants’ emissions.”71
“USDA Organic” certifies the produc- ing GreenOrder’s criteria are marketed as
tion and handling of organic produce and Ecomagination products, but critics have Word-of-Mouth Evangelism
dairy products. questioned GE’s inclusion of “cleaner and the Internet
Green Seal and Scientific Certification coal” (that is, coal gasification for clean-
Systems emblems certify a broad spec- er burning and sequestration of carbon Increasingly, consumers have grown
trum of green products. Green Seal sets dioxide emissions) as an “Ecomagina- skeptical of commercial messages, and
specific criteria for various categories of tion” product.68 they’re turning to the collective wis-
products, ranging from paints to clean- Consequently, when seeking endorse- dom and experience of their friends and
ing agents to hotel properties, and for a ments and eco-certifications, marketers peers about products.72 Word-of-mouth or
fee, companies can have their products should consider the environmental trade- “buzz” is perceived to be very credible,
evaluated and monitored annually for cer- offs and complexity of their products and especially as consumers consider and try
tification. Green Seal–certified products the third parties behind endorsements to comprehend complex product innova-
include Zero-VOC Olympic Premium and/or certifications: Is the third party tions. The Internet, through e-mail and its


interior paint and Johnson Wax profes- respected? Are its certification meth- vast, accessible repository of information,
sional cleaners. Green Seal has also certi- odologies accepted by leading environ- Web sites, search engines, blogs, product
fied the Hyatt Regency in Washington, mentalists, industry experts, government ratings sites, podcasts, and other digital
DC, for the hotel’s comprehensive energy regulators, and other key stakeholders? platforms, has opened significant oppor-
and water conservation, recycling pro- Marketers should educate their customers tunities for tapping consumers’ social and
grams, and environmental practices. By about the meaning behind an endorse- communication networks to diffuse cred-
contrast, Scientific Certification Systems ment or an eco-seal’s criteria. GE rec- ible “word-of-mouse” (buzz facilitated by
(SCS) certifies specific product claims ognizes that its cleaner coal technology the Internet) about green products. This
or provides a detailed “eco-profile” for a is controversial but hopes that robust is exemplified by one of the most spec-
product’s environmental impact for dis- marketing and educational outreach will tacular product introductions on the Web:
play on product labels for a broad array convince society about cleaner coal’s Tide Coldwater.
of products, from agricultural products environmental benefits.69 On its Web In 2005, Proctor & Gamble partnered
to fisheries to construction. For example, site, GE references U.S. Energy Informa- with the non-profit organization, the
Armstrong hard surface flooring holds tion Administration’s statistics that coal Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), in a
SCS certification, and SCS works with accounts for about 24 percent of the “viral marketing” campaign to spread
retailers like The Home Depot to monitor world’s total energy consumption, argu- news about the money-saving benefits
its vendors’ environmental claims.66 ing that coal will continue to be a domi- of laundering clothes in cold water with
Although eco-certifications differenti- nant source of energy due to its abun- specially formulated Tide Coldwater.73
ate products and aid in consumer deci- dance and the increasing electrification ASE provided credibility for the detergent
sionmaking, they are not without contro- of populous nations such as China and by auditing and backing P&G’s claims
versy. The science behind eco-seals can India.70 In response to GE’s commitment that consumers could save an average of
appear subjective and/or complex, and to clean coal, Jonathan Lash, president of $63 a year if they switched from warm to
critics may take issue with certification the World Resources Institute, said, “Five cold water washes. ASE sent e-mail pro-
criteria.67 For example, GreenOrder, a years ago, I had to struggle to suppress motions encouraging consumers to visit
New York-based environmental consult- my gag response to terms like ‘clean’s interactive Web site and take
ing firm, has devised a scorecard to coal,’ but I’ve since faced the sobering the “Coldwater Challenge” by registering
evaluate cleantech products marketed in reality that every two weeks China opens to receive a free sample. Visitors could
General Electric’s “Ecomagination” ini- a new coal-fired plant. India is moving calculate how much money they would

save by using the detergent, learn other credible product messages dispatched by desirable for consumers. The question
energy-saving laundry tips, and refer e- a respected non-profit group and consum- that remains, however, is, what is green
mail addresses of their friends to take the ers’ Internet networks—set the stage for marketing’s future? Historically, green
challenge as well. offered an Tide Coldwater’s successful launch. marketing has been a misunderstood con-
engaging map of the United States where, cept. Business scholars have viewed it as
over time, visitors could track and watch a “fringe” topic, given that environmental-
their personal networks grow across the The Future ism’s acceptance of limits and conserva-
country when their friends logged onto of Green Marketing tion does not mesh well with marketing’s
the site to request a free sample. traditional axioms of “give customers
Given the immediacy of e-mail and the Clearly, there are many lessons to be what they want” and “sell as much as you
Internet, word-of-mouse is fast becoming learned to avoid green marketing myopia can.” In practice, green marketing myo-
an important vehicle for spreading cred- (see the box on this page)—the short pia has led to ineffective products and
ible news about new products. According version of all this is that effective green consumer reluctance. Sustainability, how-
to the Pew Internet & American Life marketing requires applying good mar- ever, is destined to dominate twenty-first
Project, 44 percent of online U.S. adults keting principles to make green products century commerce. Rising energy prices,
(about 50 million Americans) are “content
creators,” meaning that they contribute
to the Internet via blogs, product recom-
mendations, and reviews.74 To facilitate SUMMARY OF GUIDEPOSTS
buzz, however, marketers need to create FOR THE “THREE C’S”
credible messages, stories, and Web sites
about their products that are so compel- Evidence indicates that successful green (for example, “rechargeable batteries
ling, interesting, and/or entertaining that products have avoided green marketing offer longer performance”).
consumers will seek the information out myopia by following three important • Create engaging and educational
and forward it to their friends and fam- principles: consumer value positioning, Internet sites about environmental
calibration of consumer knowledge, and products’ desired consumer value (for
ily.75 The fact that P&G was able to the credibility of product claims. example, Tide Coldwater’s interactive
achieve this for a low-involvement prod- Web site allows visitors to calculate their
Consumer Value Positioning
uct is quite remarkable. likely annual money savings based on
• Design environmental products to
International online marketing consul- their laundry habits, utility source (gas
perform as well as (or better than) alter-
tant Hitwise reported that ASE’s e-mail or electricity), and zip code location).
campaign increased traffic at the Tide • Promote and deliver the con- Credibility of Product Claims
Coldwater Web site by 900 percent in the sumer-desired value of environmental • Employ environmental product
products and target relevant consumer and consumer benefit claims that are
first week, and then tripled that level in
market segments (such as market health specific, meaningful, unpretentious,
week two.76 Within a few months, more benefits among health-conscious con- and qualified (that is, compared with
than one million Americans accepted the sumers). comparable alternatives or likely usage
“Coldwater Challenge,” and word-of- • Broaden mainstream appeal by scenarios).
mouse cascaded through ten degrees of bundling (or adding) consumer-desired • Procure product endorsements or
value into environmental products eco-certifications from trustworthy third
separation across all 50 states and more
(such as fixed pricing for subscribers of parties, and educate consumers about
than 33,000 zip codes.77 In October 2005, renewable energy). the meaning behind those endorsements
Hitwise reported that ranked as
Calibration of Consumer and eco-certifications.
the twelfth most popular site by market Knowledge • Encourage consumer evangelism
share of visits in the “Lifestyle—House • Educate consumers with marketing via consumers’ social and Internet com-
and Garden” category.78 No other laundry messages that connect environmental munication networks with compelling,
detergent brand’s Web site has gained a product attributes with desired consum- interesting, and/or entertaining informa-
er value (for example, “pesticide-free tion about environmental products (for
significant Web presence in terms of the
produce is healthier”; “energy-effi- example, Tide’s “Coldwater Challenge”
number of visits. ciency saves money”; or “solar power Web site included a map of the United
P&G’s savvy implementation of “The is convenient”). States so visitors could track and watch
Three Cs”—consumer value positioning • Frame environmental product attri- their personal influence spread when
on money savings, calibration of con- butes as “solutions” for consumer needs their friends requested a free sample).
sumer knowledge about cold wash effec-
tiveness via an engaging Web site, and


growing pollution and resource consump- more sustainable services
tion in Asia, and political pressures to will depend on credibly
address climate change are driving inno- communicating and deliver-
vation toward healthier, more-efficient, ing consumer-desired value
high-performance products. In short, all in the marketplace. Only
marketing will incorporate elements of then will product demateri-
green marketing. alization steer business onto
As the authors of Natural Capital- a more sustainable path.
ism argue, a more sustainable business
Jacquelyn A. Ottman is president of J.
model requires “product dematerializa- Ottman Consulting, Inc. in New York
tion”—that is, commerce will shift from and author of Green Marketing: Oppor-
tunity for Innovation, 2nd edition (NTC
the “sale of goods” to the “sale of ser- Business Books, 1997). She can be
vices” (for example, providing illumina- reached at jaottman@greenmarketing.
com. Edwin R. Stafford is an associate
tion rather than selling light bulbs). 79 This professor of marketing at Utah State
model is illustrated, if unintentionally, by University, Logan. He researches the
strategic marketing and policy implica-
arguably the twenty-first century’s hottest tions of clean technology (also known
product—Apple’s iPod. The iPod gives as “cleantech”) and is the co-principal
investigator for a $1 million research
consumers the convenience to down- grant from the U.S. Department of
load, store, and play tens of thousands of Energy on the diffusion of wind
power in Utah. He may be reached at
songs without the environmental impact Cathy L. Hartman is a professor of Alternatively, however, some marketers view green con-
of manufacturing and distributing CDs, marketing at Utah State University, Logan. Her research sumers as falling into three broad segments concerned
centers on how interpersonal influence and social sys- with preserving the planet, health consequences of
plastic jewel cases, and packaging. tems affect the diffusion of ideas and clean products and environmental problems, and animal welfare; see Ott-
Innovations that transform material technology. She is principal investigator on a $1 million man, note 3 above, pages 19–44. Because environmental
U.S. Department of Energy grant for developing wind concerns are varied, ranging from resource/energy con-
goods into efficient streams of servic- power in the state of Utah. She can be contacted at cathy servation to wildlife protection to air quality, marketing
es could proliferate if consumers see research suggests that responses to green advertising
appeals vary by consumer segments. For example, in one
them as desirable. To encourage energy study, young college-educated students were found to be
and water efficiency, Electrolux pilot- drawn to health-oriented green appeals, whereas working
adults were more responsive toward health, waste, and
ed a “pay-per-wash” service in Sweden NOTES
energy appeals; see M. R. Stafford, T. F. Stafford, and
in 1999 where consumers were given J. Chowdhury, “Predispositions Toward Green Issues:
1. G. Fowler, “‘Green Sales Pitch Isn’t Moving The Potential Efficacy of Advertising Appeals,” Journal
new efficient washing machines for a Many Products,” Wall Street Journal, 6 March 2002. of Current Issues and Research in Advertising 18, no. 2
small home installation fee and then were 2. See, for example, K. Alston and J. P. Roberts, (1996): 67–79. One of the lessons from the study pre-
“Partners in New Product Development: SC Johnson and sented here is that green products must be positioned on
charged 10 Swedish kronor (about $1) the Alliance for Environmental Innovation,” Corporate the consumer value sought by targeted consumers.
per use. The machines were connected Environmental Strategy 6, no. 2: 111–28. 8. A. Grubler, “Doing More with Less: Improving
3. See, for example, J. Ottman, Green Marketing: the Environment through Green Engineering,” Environ-
via the Internet to a central database to Opportunity for Innovation (Lincolnwood [Chicago]: ment 48, no.2 (March 2006): 22–37.
monitor use, and Electrolux maintained NTC Business Books, 1997). 9. See, for example, L.A. Crosby and S. L. Johnson,
ownership and servicing of the washers. 4. P. Hawken, A. Lovins, and L. H. Lovins, Natural “Customer-Centric Innovation,” Marketing Management
Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution 15, no. 2 (2006): 12–13.
When the machines had served their duty, (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999). 10. The methodology for this article involved review-
Electrolux took them back for remanu- 5. See, for example, Business Week, “Alternate ing case descriptions of green products discussed in
Power: A Change in the Wind,” 4 July 2005, 36–37. the academic and business literature to identify factors
facturing. Pay-per-wash failed, however, contributing to consumer acceptance or resistance. Prod-
6. See T. L. Friedman, “Geo-Greening by Exam-
because consumers were not convinced of ple,” New York Times, 27 March 2005; and T. L. Fried- uct failure was defined as situations in which the green
man, “The New ‘Sputnik’ Challenges: They All Run on product experienced very limited sales and ultimately
its benefits over traditional ownership of was either removed from the marketplace (such as Gen-
Oil,” New York Times, 20 January 2006.
washing machines.80 Had Electrolux bet- 7. There is some debate as to how to define a “green
eral Motor’s EV1 electric car and Electrolux’s “pay-per-
wash” service) or re-positioned in the marketplace (such
ter marketed pay-per-wash’s convenience consumer.” Roper ASW’s most recent research segments
as Philips’ “EarthLight”). Product success was defined as
American consumers by their propensity to purchase
(for example, virtually no upfront costs environmentally sensitive products into five categories,
situations in which the green product attained consumer
acceptance and was widely available at the time of the
for obtaining a top-of-the-line washer, ranging from “True Blue Greens,” who are most inclined
analysis. Particular attention centered on the market
to seek out and buy green on a regular basis (representing
free servicing, and easy trade-ins for 9 percent of the population), to “Basic Browns,” who are
strategies and external market forces of green products
experiencing significant growth (such as gas-electric
upgrades) or bundled pay-per-wash with the least involved group and believe environmental indif-
hybrid cars and organic foods), and the study examined
ference is mainstream (representing 33 percent of the
more desirable features, consumers might population); see Roper ASW “Green Gauge Report 2002:
their market context, pricing, targeted consumers, prod-
uct design, and marketing appeals and messages.
have accepted the green service. To avoid Americans Perspective on Environmental Issues—Yes
. . . But,” November 2002, 11. See T. Levitt, “Marketing Myopia,” Harvard
green marketing myopia, the future suc- conferences/november2002/nov2002_proceedings/ Business Review 28, July–August (1960): 24–47.
cess of product dematerialization and plenary/greenguage2002.pdf (accessed 7 February 2006). 12. A. D. Lee and R. Conger, “Market Transforma-

tion: Does it Work? The Super Energy Efficient Refrig- tem, see The 69-point LEED 55. T. Harris, “Austinites Apply to Save With Wind
erator Program,” ACEEE Proceedings, 1996, 3.69–3.80. rating system addresses energy and water use, indoor Power,” KVUE News, 13 February 2006.
13. Ibid. air quality, materials, siting, and innovation and design. 56. J. Ottman, note 3 above.
Buildings can earn basic certification or a silver, gold,
14. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) 57. J. Ottman, note 3 above.
or platinum designation depending on the number of
adopted the Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) regulations in
credits awarded by external reviewers. Critics charge, 58. Generation Green, “Splenda Letter to Feder-
1990. The original LEV regulations required the intro-
however, that the costly and confusing administration of al Trade Commission,” 13 January 2005, http://www
duction of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in 1998 as 2
the LEED system is inhibiting adoption of the program (accessed
percent of all vehicles produced for sale in California,
and impeding the program’s environmental objectives; 7 February 2006).
and increased the percentage of ZEVs from 2 percent
see A. Schendler and R. Udall, “LEED is Broken; Let’s 59. J. Davis, “Strategies for Environmental Advertis-
to 10 percent in 2003. By 1998, significant flexibility
Fix It,” Grist Magazine, 16 October 2005, http://www ing,” Journal of Consumer Marketing 10, no. 2 (1993):
was introduced through partial ZEV credits for very- 23–25.
low-emission vehicles. For a review, see S. Shaheen,
“California’s Zero-Emission Vehicle Mandate,” Institute 60. S. Farah, “The Thin Green Line,” CMO Maga-
of Transporation Studies, Paper UCD-ITS-RP-04-14, 2 31., “Survey: Home Builders Name zine, 1 December 2005, http://www.cmomagazine
September 2004. Energy Efficiency as Biggest Industry Trend,” 26 Janu- .com/read/120105/green_line.html (accessed 9 Febru-
ary 2006, ary 2006).
15. C. Palmeri, “Unplugged,” Business Week, 20
March 2006, 12. 61. Ibid.
32. D. Smith, “Conservation: Building Grows Green-
16. “Think Tanks,” Automotive News, 6 March 2006, 62. See Jenkins, note 23 above.
er in Bay Area,” San Francisco Chronicle, 1 June 2005.
42; J. Ottman, “Lessons from the Green Graveyard,” 63. See Farah, note 60 above.
Green@Work, April 2003, 62–63. 33. E. Beck, “Earth-Friendly Materials Go Main-
stream,” New York Times, 5 January 2006, 8. 64. M. Maynard, “E.P.A. Revision is Likely to Cut
17. J. Lawrence, “The Green Revolution: Case Mileage Ratings,” New York Times, 11 January 2006.
Study,” Advertising Age, 29 January 1991, 12. 34. J. M. Ginsberg and P. N. Bloom, “Choosing the
Right Green Marketing Strategy,” MIT Sloan Manage- 65. For a more comprehensive overview of eco-cer-
18. See Roper ASW, note 7 above. tifications and labeling, see L.H. Gulbrandsen, “Mark
ment Journal, Fall 2004: 79–84.
19. “Fuel Economy: Why You’re Not Getting the of Sustainability? Challenges for Fishery and Forestry
35. Tan, note 29 above.
MPG You Expect,” Consumer Reports, October 2005, Eco-labeling,” Environment 47, no. 5 (2005): 8–23.
20-23. 36. Tan, note 29, above.
66. For a comprehensive overview of other eco-
20. J. O’Dell, “Prices Soar for Hybrids with Rights to 37. C. C. Berk, “P&G Will Promote ‘Green’ Deter- certifications, see Consumers Union’s Web site at http://
Fast Lane,” Los Angeles Times, 27 August 2005. gent,” Wall Street Journal, 19 January 2005.
21. M. Landler and K. Bradsher, “VW to Build 38. K. McLaughlin, “Has Your Chicken Been 67. Gulbrandsen, note 65 above, pages 17–19.
Hybrid Minivan with Chinese,” New York Times, 9 Sep- Drugged?” Wall Street Journal, 2 August 2005; and E.
68. Farah, note 60 above.
tember 2005. Weise, “Are Our Products Our Enemy?” USA Today, 13
August 2005. 69. Farah, note 60 above.
22. K. Carter, “‘Hybrid’ Cars Were Oscars’ Politically
39. McLaughlin, ibid. 70. See GE Global Research, Clean Coal, http://
Correct Ride,” USA Today, 31 March 2003. (accessed 16 April
23. See, for example, H. W. Jenkins, “Dear Valued 40. Alston and Roberts, note 2 above.
Hybrid Customer . . .,” Wall Street Journal, 30 Novem- 41. R. Leiber, “The Dirt on Green Housecleaners,”
71. A. Griscom Little, “It Was Just My Ecomagina-
ber 2005; E. R. Stafford, “Conspicuous Conservation,” Wall Street Journal, 29 December 2005.
tion,” Grist Magazine, 10 May 2005,
Green@Work, Winter 2004, 30–32. A recent Civil Soci- 42. M. Alexander, “Home Improved,” Readers news/muck/2005/05/10/little-ge/index.html.
ety Institute poll found that 66 percent of survey par- Digest, April 2004, 77–80.
ticipants agreed that driving fuel efficient vehicles was 72. E. Rosen, The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Cre-
43. For example, see D. Leonhardt, “Buy a Hybrid, ate Word-of-Mouth Marketing (New York: Doubleday,
“patriotic”; see Reuters, “American See Fuel Efficient
and Save a Guzzler,” New York Times, 8 February 2006. 2000).
Cars as ‘Patriotic,’ 18 March 2005, http://www.planetark
.com/avantgo/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=29988. 44. See, for example, D. Cave, “It’s Not Sexy Being 73. Viral marketing is a form of “word-of-mouse”
Green (Yet),” New York Times, 2 October 2005. buzz marketing defined as “the process of encouraging
24. “Rising Consumer Interest in Hybrid Technology
Confirmed by Maritz Research,” PRNewswire, 5 Janu- 45. G. Chon, “Toyota Goes After Copycat Hybrids; honest communication among consumer networks, and
ary 2006. Buyers are Asked to Believe Branded HSD Technology it focuses on email as the channel.” See J.E. Phelps,
is Worth the Extra Cost,” Wall Street Journal, 22 Sep- R. Lewis, L. Mobilio, D. Perry, and N. Raman, “Viral
25. O’Dell, note 20 above.
tember 2005. Marketing or Electronic Word-of-Mouth Advertising:
26. J. Fetto, “The Baby Business,” American Demo- Examining Consumer Responses and Motivation to Pass
46. B. G. Hoffman, “Ford: Now It’s Easy Being
graphics, May 2003, 40. Along Email,” Journal of Advertising Research 44, no. 4
Green,” Detroit News, 31 January 2006.
27. See D. McGinn, “The Green Machine,” News- (2004): 333–48.
47. See W. McDonough and M. Braungart, Cradle to
week, 21 March 2005, E8–E12; and J. Weber, “A Super-
Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (New York: 74. G. Ramsey, “Ten Reasons Why Word-of-Mouth
Natural Investing Opportunity,” Business 2.0, March
North Point Press, 2002). Marketing Works,” Online Media Daily, 23 Septem-
2005, 34.
48. R. Smith, “Beyond Recycling: Manufacturers ber 2005,
28. A. Murray, “Can Wal-Mart Sustain a Softer .cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=34339&Nid=15643&
Embrace ‘C2C’ Design,” Wall Street Journal, 3 March
Edge?” Wall Street Journal, 8 February 2006. p=114739 (accessed 16 February 2006).
29. C. Tan, “New Incentives for Being Green,” Wall 75. See Rosen, note 72 above.
49. K. Hafen, “Preston Festival Goes LED,” Logan
Street Journal, 4 August 2005.
Herald Journal, 21 September 2005. 76. Ramsey, note 74 above.
30. For an overview of the Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design Green Building Rating Sys- 50. O’Dell, note 20 above. 77. Tide press release, “ColdWater Challenge Reach-
51. A. Covarrubias, “In Carpool Lanes, Hybrids Find es One Million,”
Cold Shoulders,” Los Angeles Times, 10 April 2006. challenge.html (accessed 13 September 2005).
52. M. Clayton, “Hot Stuff for a Cool Earth,” Chris- 78. L. Prescott, “Case Study: Tide Boosts Traffic
® tian Science Monitor, 21 April 2005. 9-fold,” iMedia Connection, 30 November 2005, http://
53. See Ogilvy & Mather Topline Report, China
A great Energy-Efficient CFC-Free Refrigerator Study (Beijing: 79. Hawken, Lovins, and Lovins, note 4 above; see
classroom resource! Ogilvy & Mather, August 1997); E. R. Stafford, C. L.
Hartman, and Y. Liang, “Forces Driving Environmental
also A. B. Lovins, L. H. Lovins, and P. Hawken, “A Road
Map for Natural Capitalism,” Harvard Business Review,
Check out Innovation Diffusion in China: The Case of Green- May-June 1999, 145–58.
freeze,” Business Horizons 9, no. 2 (2003): 122–35. 80. J. Makower, “Green Marketing: Lessons from
54. J. Baker, Jr., K. Denby, and J. E. Jerrett, “Market- the Leaders,” Two Steps Forward, September 2005,
for lists of articles by topic. based Government Activities in Texas,” Texas Business
Review, August 2005, 1–5. green_marketing.html.



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