Monday, January 21, 2008

Turning Greenwashing Around - Marketing After the Green Color Glasses Come Off

--Feature: "Consumption Junction w/John Rooks"--

Lately with all the greenwashing and a plethora of research projects all trying to quantify the psychography, size and scope of the green marketplace, I’ve been thinking about the basic principles of sales and marketing. Mostly, I look at how, today, these principles contradict logic. Corporations are clamoring for this attractive market share and are willing to promise the moon to get it.

I’m reminded of the book Consumed by Benjamin Barber. It's a good critique of American Consumerism in general, but applies to the new green consumerism as well. In the first few pages, we're reminded that today’s culture behaves on backwards principles. Expectations are contrary to action. We expect:

  • Age without degradation.
  • Sex without reproduction.
  • Dress without formality.
  • Age without wisdom, humility or dignity.
  • Certainty without doubt.
  • Consumption without end.
So, how does this play with being green? Do we expect results without sacrifice? Major results from minor steps? Profit from philanthropy? Diversity from mass marketing?

Yes, on all accounts. We have been conditioned to. Authenticity, progress and intention are at the core of LOHAS. It is not at the core of mainstreaming green principles through promotion and advertising, however.

The next level of authentic green marketing will be about realistic expectations. And it won’t be that welcome by the mainstream. It will feel like a disappointment. But it will be right and optimistic and it will start to change perceptions slowly, deliberately and realistically.

*Consumption Junction is a feature column focusing on culture, advertising and the ethical consumer written by John Rooks. John is the President of DWELL Creative, a progressive advertising and marketing agency voted one the Top 25 agencies by LOHAS Journal.

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