Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Basics29. March 2023

Green marketing: how it works and who is harnessing it best

Customers are putting more and more value on a holistic approach to eco-friendliness as well as on social fairness. And these are the aspects which green marketing communicates. Not only in terms of individual goods, but also on all the activities of a company. Discover here what to pay attention to most.


Green marketing: the definition

The task of green marketing: to communicate the success of the company’s sustainability activities across the value-added chain, all the way to B2B customers and the public. In this case, it is not solely about individual products or services – it is about all of a company’s eco-friendly and socially fair efforts and activities.

These can range, for instance, from the sourcing of raw materials to fair remuneration and wages, to the recycling possibilities of products and packaging to a zero-waste company strategy. All in all, green marketing covers the areas of corporate social and corporate responsibility, sustainable development and corporate citizenship.

A committed and focused management team is needed to achieve this, and when in doubt, this may include trimming or transforming the entire company culture towards sustainability. If this is performed successfully, green marketing has to spread the word about the company’s progress in the right way.

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Advertising causes carbon emissions

What gets easily forgotten when it comes to planning green marketing: the subsequent campaigns themselves are not always in line with sustainability criteria. According to the calculation from the British specialist magazine The Drum, an ad impression generates 0.1 to 1.1 grams of carbon emissions. This means digital advertising is responsible for 1 per cent of global energy consumption.

Another problem lies in the nature of the beast: marketing aims to boost the sales of products and services. But generally speaking, additional consumption is not sustainable.

To solve this dilemma, companies mainly have two options:

  • Offsetting their carbon emissions
  • Reducing their carbon emissions

When it comes to the first of the two, the Marketing department can measure a campaign’s carbon footprint using the Green GRP calculator,  for instance. The next step then centres on compensating the campaign’s carbon emissions. Agencies such as ClimatePartner can take over this task. They ensure offsetting through certified climate protection projects and can also be helpful when it comes to the systematic reduction of emissions.

Which brings us to the second option. Reduction starts from the very beginning, during the conceptualisation of green marketing – in other words, for a climate-neutral optimisation from day one. This mainly includes the examination of technical aspects, such as the required length of videos, but also the use of data centres and network transmissions.

This also means: conscientious green marketing is a time and cost-intensive undertaking. But the efforts can pay off in the end – leading to a better image and higher profits.

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Green marketing: 3 success stories

Green marketing is a sophisticated task which initially requires a lot of resources to implement it. This may be the reason why largely major corporations have focused on it to date. In spite of this, the following examples can serve as role models or inspiration for small and medium-sized enterprises:

  • Edeka, Germany’s largest food retailer, started a collaboration with the environmental organisation World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) back in 2009. At the start, the focus was on building up a range of sustainable products step by step. As part of this, WWF served as a testing institution, with advertising appeal, which examines the sustainability of products. The long-term goal of this ongoing cooperation is a commitment to sustainability across all levels of the company.
  • The sports article manufacturer Nike produces many of its products in Asia, where low wages and child labour, amongst others, are often the order of the day. At the turn of the century, Nike began to change and raised the lowest social and ecological threshold of its production standards. Over time, the company has been able to present itself as being conscientious and socially engaged.
  • The globally active textiles manufacturer H&M works in an industry which is not known for being a pioneer in sustainable business practices. Today, the recycling of clothes is indeed playing an ever-larger role, but the Swedish company wanted to go further and developed an organic cotton – positively influencing the market environment in terms of the notion of sustainability.

Green Marketing Award: Austria honours the most sustainable marketing concepts

The above-mentioned and other comparable projects still mainly focus on boosting a brand’s image. But ideally, green marketing goes beyond that, towards more ecological and socially compatible efforts in all areas of everyday business. With green products and services.

Following this approach is the Austrian Green Marketing Award, which was handed out for the first time in 2022. The second ceremony is taking place on 1 June 2023 – with awards in five categories. With this, the organisation aims to achieve three goals:

  • To strengthen the significance of green marketing
  • To spread the notion of green marketing within company, associations and organisations
  • To make the Austrian marketing industry “climate fit and future-proof”
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