Beyond ecolabels: what green marketing can learn from conventional marketing
Emma Rex*, Henrikke Baumann
Environmental Systems Analysis, Chalmers University of Technology, 412 96 Goteborg, Sweden ¨ Accepted 25 May 2006 Available online 9 November 2006
Abstract Ecolabels have emerged as one of the main tools ofgreen marketing. Although a great deal of effort has been invested in making them more effective and efﬁcient, the market share of ecolabelled products is still low, partly because they have been addressed mainly to ‘green’ consumers. In a theoretical exposition of marketing theory, we ﬁnd that green marketing could learn from conventional marketing in discovering other means than labelling topromote green products. Examples include addressing a wider range of consumers, working with the positioning strategies of price, place and promotion and actively engaging in market creation. Ó 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Ecolabel; Green marketing; Promotion; Green consumer; Environmental policy
1. Introduction Ecolabels are intended as a means for consumers to make choicesthat will reduce environmental impact and enable them to inﬂuence how products are made. In the Nordic Countries, there are ecolabels for 55 product groups and 2800 products. In Japan, 64 product groups have criteria established for ecolabels and more than 5000 products have been accepted . The market for green products is generally considered to be both established and expanding. One examplein the food sector is that the world market for ecological food products has an annual increase in sales of 20% . This may seem impressive, indicating great interest on the parts of industry and consumers in products that will do less harm to the environment. However, looking at the actual market shares of these products alters the picture. Except for a handful of product groups, the overallmarket share of ecolabelled products is low. The food sector has been pointed out as one of the
segments where the green market continued to grow when growth in other sectors discontinued . Yet today ecolabelled food products make up only a few percent (up to 5%) of sales in Europe [2,4]. This seemingly weak response from the market has led more than one industry representative to concludethat there is no market for green products. Although a great deal of effort has been put into making ecolabelling schemes more effective and efﬁcient, actual sales of ecolabelled products have remained at moderate levels. Does this modest share of ecolabelled products mean that the green dimension of products is an insufﬁcient marketing incentive in promotional communication, or is it inadequatelyhandled or even unﬁt for the marketing context? Is it possible to ﬁnd other ways to market ‘green’ products? 1.1. Method In order to analyse the issues raised, we reviewed the marketing literature and examined whether there are methods in conventional marketing literature that have been overlooked in the green marketing ﬁeld. We did this by taking stock of the green marketing literature and itsrelation to conventional
* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ46 31 772 8606; fax: þ46 31 772 2172. E-mail address: email@example.com (E. Rex). 0959-6526/$ - see front matter Ó 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2006.05.013
E. Rex, H. Baumann / Journal of Cleaner Production 15 (2007) 567e576
marketing literature. We conducted a literature survey, comparingconventional marketing literature with marketing literature that has an expressed aim to account for aspects of relevance to the impact of products on the environment. Marketing literature is an extensive ﬁeld. We surveyed conventional marketing theory on a general level, as described in comprehensive marketing literature by scholars such as Kotler et al. . Green marketing literature does not yet...