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Marketing the Environment Ethically

Marketing the Environment Ethically

Author: James Howard

This lesson explains what marketing the environment ethically looks like.

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Marketing the Ethical Environment

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Hello, and welcome to this tutorial on marketing the ethical environment. Now as always with these tutorials, please feel free to fast forward, pause, or rewind as many times as you need in order to get the most out of the time that you're going to spend here. Trust me, you're not going to hurt my feelings.

Let me ask you a question. How do companies respond to a focus, this focus we have on ethical business practices? Specifically, how do they do that in terms of marketing?

Well, it seems like an interesting challenge. Well, during this lesson, what we're going to be covering are choices that the companies have for responding to that ethical environment. We're also going to look at something called a social audit. Now the key terms for this lesson are going to be green marketing, and social audit.

So let's start off the bat with green marketing and that definition we're going to be using. Green marketing is a marketing focused that puts environmental concerns as a primary in making decisions. Now, companies have choices here. Companies can choose to be-- choose to market in a green way, or they can do something called greenwashing.

Now greenwashing is different than green marketing. What it is, it's a company doesn't make a product or a practice better, necessarily, they just make it seem that way by their advertising. You ever seen something like this?

Now examples of a green marketing would be a company called Tom's Shoes. Tom's Shoes uses natural, organic, and recycled materials and they have as small environmental impact as they can to make their shoes. Now, they also donate one pair shoes for every pair of shoes that you buy to the needy so that they have shoes, also.

And they, of course, use this to their advantage in their advertising. It's a way of green marketing that business practice.

So what would be an example of greenwashing? Well, how about bottled water? Is it really better? And what are the negatives associated with bottled water? Well, bottled water produces, obviously, a lot more trash than water out of the tap. And believe it or not, bottled water is actually held to a different standard than tap water.

Tap water is regulated under something called the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the standards for cleanliness are actually a lot higher than for bottled water. In fact, a lot of bottled water is simply tap water that's been filtered. And because they have this image about them, they can advertise in a way that hey, it's good for you, or it's better for you, and charge you accordingly.

Now there's a great area here, obviously, between products and companies are marketing in a truthful way, but they may be marketing a fad. For instance, water is fat free. Rice Krispies are gluten free. Well, they've always been that way. It's not anything new.

My favorite example of this was several years ago, I was working as an EMT and what we did was, we spent a lot of time in convenience stores. Because you know, at 3 o'clock in the morning, you get hungry, or you're thirsty, you need something to eat or drink. And I remember walking in the convenience stores and seeing cotton candy that was advertised as fat free. Like, now it was suddenly healthy. Well, it's always been fat free because it's just sugar, and there's no fat in sugar. But they were taking advantage of this fad to make it seem like their product was healthier and appeal to a different target marketing.

Now green marketing can be a competitive advantage. If people are looking for companies are acting in a ethical way and looking for companies that are paying attention to their environmental blueprint, or footprint, then marketing your success in this area isn't just bragging, it can actually serve as a competitive advantage and drive customers to your business.

Let's talk about what a social audit is. Now, a social audit is a precise review method for an organization to analyze how it is responding to social responsibility with its stakeholders. Now, social audits are going to be a requirement if you're going to make changes to your business in a-- to make it a more socially responsible or ethical environment, you have to audit what you're doing in order to see where you are and then see what changes you need to make in order to get where you want to go.

And in that way, it's very similar to a financial audit. Where am I at as a business, what can I afford to do, and where is it that I want to be? Now an example of a result that comes from a social audit for instance, would be a local company helping a school by donating a portion of the proceeds to the schools in the area where their headquartered. It's a way of giving back to the environment.

But you're not going to be able to do that, or maybe see that, until you see-- until you do that social audit and see what can be done in your local area, what are you capable, or have the capability to doing, and also what you can afford to do. It's great to be socially responsible and environmentally responsible, but if you put your business out of business doing it, then you've come up with a whole new set of problems, because now, that local community suffers because those people no longer have jobs.

So having a social audit is very important to understand where you are and what you can do that's going to be the most beneficial for your local community or the population you want to serve, and you can actually accomplish as a business.

So what did we learn today? Well, we looked at choices for responding to the ethical environment that businesses have. Green marketing, also some greenwashing, and maybe that gray area we're advertising something to take advantage of a fad, like fat free cotton candy. We also looked at the importance of a social audit and understanding where you are as a company, what the needs are out there that you can help with, and what are your capabilities as far as helping with that particular cause you want to get involved with?

Now as always, I want to thank you for spending some time with me today. I hope you had a good time, and you guys have a great day.

Terms to Know
Green Marketing

A marketing focus that puts environmental concerns as a primary in making decisions.

Social Audit

A precise review method for an organization to analyze how it is responding to social responsibility with its stakeholders.