Green marketing has failed

This article by Joel Makower on Linkedin exposes a truth the green movement refuse to accept; people base their buying decisions on price and trust of a brand before the environment.

Sometimes it’s hard to face reality, especially when a dream is so alluring. And the alluring dream of green marketing is this: that consumers would cast a vote in favor of a more just and sustainable world whenever they shop.

But the reality has been vastly different. For well over 20 years, consumers haven’t been willing to vote with their dollars. The reasons are many and complex, but the result is clearcut: With the exception of some energy-saving devices, no green product has captured more than a tiny slice of the marketplace, at least in the U.S.

Think about it: No environmentally preferable car, carpet, cleaner, cosmetic, clothing, coffee, credit card or cell phone has captured more than 2 percent of its respective market. In most cases, sales of green products represent well under 1 percent of any given category. 

Even where green products do seem to be selling, it’s not primarily because of their environmental benefits. Organic foods? It’s about what we put into our bodies. Hybrid cars? They reduce costly trips to the pump. Energy Star TVs and appliances? They cut energy costs. It’s not really about the planet.

A reader emails about the article:

I see this every day as an exporter.  The customers love the product and trust the brand (New Zealand) but ultimately price is always the first and last buying decision.

I also think the writer misses a point about why business are trying to work in a more sustainable manner.  Yes I agree with him it is about cost savings but being a greenie he refuses to understand/acknowledge that where there is profit to be made, business will protect and nurture the source of that profit better than any other organisation.  I guess that’s too big a concept for the left and greenies to understand as they refuse to concede that anyone but them cares about the planet.


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  • Pita

    And this is why the threat of a trade embargo against New Zealand if we didn’t sign up to the Kyoto protocol and impose an Emissions Trading Scheme was only empty political rhetoric.

  • kohibruce

    Price remains the most effective indicator of resources consumed in supplying goods and services; and therefore sustainably of same.

  • cows4me

    Joel is dead right, the Melon movement are rag tag bunch of deluded idealists with no real idea on how the world works. Our own district has had a flirtation with the Melon way only to basically bankrupt quite a few individuals. Organic milk products were suppose to be the way of the future, pigs arse they were. After many millions were spent building infrastructure and farms getting organically certified, no mean feat, product was finally produced. Oh dear, guess what, the much heralded markets that so desperately needed organic product were a figment of the imagination. Customers weren’t willing to pay the extra costs, the whole deal went arse up. Anything concerning business that is presumably green should be taken with a very fucking large grain of salt.

  • JC

    I read an article the other day from some joker raving about the deep orange yolk eggs he brought from a certified organic grower. Now I do like orange yolk eggs so I bought 6 at twice the price with the certified genuine organic label.. bugger.. fooled again, they were a pale milky colour worse than the caged stuff, so all my ingrained prejudice against the loons is back deeper than before with the added prejudice that they are crooked loons.


  • nzd.gbp

    “But the reality has been vastly different. For well over 20 years, consumers haven’t been willing to vote with their dollars.”

    Don’t you just love that line? They did vote with their dollars, actually.

    Consumers will only vote the green’s way if they get to spend other people’s money which is why the greens like confiscatory regimes. It’s this idea that people own their own money is the problem. If we could only somehow make tax into a moral issue…
    Already taxed enough? Okay, let’s print more and take it from savers instead…