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What is Green Marketing Myopia? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

When marketers focus on green benefits over consumer benefits, they enter the danger zone known as green marketing myopia. In this lesson, we'll take a look at this issue and a few examples of problem products.

Cleaning Up

Clorox, a brand known for its cleaning and disinfecting products, threw its hat into the green marketing event in 2008 when it introduced Green Works. The new line was designed to be a direct competitor to other eco-friendly brands like Method and Seventh Generation.

Along with its purportedly safer and organic benefits, Clorox attached a hefty price tag to the new line. The assumption was that environmentally-conscious consumers would flock to the product regardless. But, the company got it wrong. Consumers weren't lured to the new line because of its features, likely in part due to its premium price tag.

A few years later, Clorox decided to keep the line, but opted to lower the price to better align the product's positives with its cost.

Many companies fail to read their customers' impressions of their green products and the marketing that goes along with it. As a result, the products fail or lose money and companies start pulling products from shelves and suffer a potential blow to their public image. When that happens, companies experience a phenomenon known as green marketing myopia.

What is Green Marketing Myopia?

Green marketing myopia is a lack of discernment by companies to recognize that customers are as concerned with the idea of ''What's in it for me?'' as they are ''How is this good for the environment?'' In fact, maybe more so. Consumers are drawn to products that fulfill their wants and needs (such as enhanced performance or reduced cost) outside of eco-friendly product features.

Companies that focus exclusively - or rely heavily - on marketing the natural and organic product benefits without considering the direct consumer benefits may be setting themselves up for a disaster. Brands must navigate the delicate balance between eco-friendly claims and keeping customers happy in the checkout line or at home. When companies fail to adequately account for both, they enter the red zone known as green marketing myopia, or lack of insight.

Avoiding Green Marketing Myopia

Making green products successful requires companies to take into account a few important tactics:

  1. Show the value of the product. Green products must have obvious and immediate consumer benefits.
  2. Marry the environmental and the everyday. Energy-efficient appliances are a good example. Consumers will be more likely to consider green benefits if there's something like a cost-savings in it for them.
  3. Back up your green claims. Many products and even brands have been called on the carpet for touting environmental benefits in one area of their business and totaling disregarding them elsewhere.

Green Marketing Myopia Examples

So, what are some examples of brands that have slid into green marketing myopia? Here are a few misses.

SunChips

Frito-Lay gave its potato chip alternative, SunChips, a packaging makeover in 2014. The healthful twist on a crunchy snack, SunChips should have been a good fit for a compostable bag. The idea of a product being compostable means that it can be thrown out and will ultimately break down into a nutrient-rich material. Except it never really got that far.

Consumers complained so much about how noisy the packaging was that the company was forced to revert back to its original packaging. How did Frito-Lay fail in this situation? They weren't able to make the product both convenient for consumers (who were annoyed by the noisy packaging) while adequately marketing the bag's eco-friendly feature.

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