Go Green... How?

Ashish Ohlyan | September 23,2014 12:17 pm IST

Naturals are big and here to stay. And in a large variety such as beverages, skincare, haircare, food products, lifestyle, leisure, fashion, ravel destinations and even jewellery.

There is growing evidence that consumers consider a natural appeal highly inviting and motivating. Yet the size of naturals business in many categories remains small. That is curious, indeed.

And it leads to a few fundamental questions. If consumers are actively green attitudinally, behaviorally why they are passively green? or worse neutral? Why have businessmen not been able to fully leverage green inclinations? Are consumers indeed ahead of marketers in the naturals arena? It seems so.

Naturals are growing in appeal across markets. There is prolific consumer evidence that people attitudinally prefer naturals. Several advantages of naturals are felt and perceived. From a products use point of view, naturals promise no side effects, holistic impact, non intrusive action and long term benefits. This functional credibility that consumers associate with naturals across product categories is well established. what is more significant is that young consumers are more pro naturals. This is borne out strongly in recent research.

Young people who will be mainstream customers of tomorrow show strong green leanings. Lifestyle and attitude research based on target group indexing with a sample size of 17000 confirms this. In metros 15 - 19 years olds say they are prepared to pay more for environment friendly products. Also given a choice they will prefer to use a herbal product than a non herbal product. So if the appeal of naturals is so evident and their potential so ripe, why then are naturals businesses not the sweeping success they were meant to be?

Marketing theory tells us that beyond functionality as much as 50% of overall appeal of a category or brand is driven by its emotional appeal or tugs. So one has to examine if there is deep and powerful emotional driving the buzz around naturals. Few business ideas in today's choice cluttered world have the credibility, appeal and broad acceptance that natural products enjoy. So could there be a latent emotional that natural businesses haven't tapped into?

Being a growing segment, naturals are perhaps among the most researched fields - qualitatively, quantitatively and in R&D terms.

These researches revealed that functionally naturals are very strong and credible, with long term benefits and lack of negative effects, regardless of product or service functions. However beyond functional fitness naturals as an overall appeal have a duality.

On one hand is the dark side of naturals. It is personified and visualized both literally and metamorphically as old and dark with associations like old age, grandfather, therapeutic, dull, old film songs, black and white, disease, ayurveda. This comes with all the credibility and authority of naturals but with sensorial, emotional, and distant from today's consumers.

On the bright side of naturals it is envisioned as bright, young, artistic, warm, liberating, sustentative and life changing.

Some brands have started to scratch surface of being natural - Santoor, Khadi, Margo etc..But they still have to find their space under the sun. They can get there by stepping more fully into the bright side of naturals.

The key embedded association of naturals is a high design orientation. This draws on the majestic and prolific beauty of nature. It also relates to much of the truly modern, cutting edge design across fields that has ended to be anchored in something natural such as linen in clothes, jute in bags, items like ceramics etc.

For understanding the implications of Green marketing it is imperative to understand in terms of Kotler's marketing mix...The four P's of green marketing. Like conventional marketers, green marketers must address the 'four P's' in innovative ways.

Entrepreneurs wanting to exploit emerging green markets will either:
Identify customers' environmental needs and develop products to address these needs; or
Develop environmentally responsible products to have less impact than competitors.

The increasingly wide variety of products on the market that support sustainable development and are good for the triple bottom line include:
Products made from recycled goods, such as Quik' N Tuff housing materials made from recycled broccoli boxes.
Products that can be recycled or reused.
Efficient products, which save water, energy or gasoline, save money and reduce environmental impact. Queensland's only waterless printer, Print point, reduces operating costs by using less water than conventional printers and is able to pass the savings on to customers.
Products with environmentally responsible packaging. McDonalds, for example, changed their packaging from polystyrene clamshells to paper.
Products with green labels, as long as they offer substantiation.
Organic products - many consumers are prepared to pay a premium for organic products, which offer promise of quality. Organic butchers, for example, promote the added qualities such as taste and tenderness.
A service that rents or loans products - such as toy libraries.
Certified products, which meet or exceed environmentally responsible criteria.

Whatever the product or service, it is vital to ensure that products meet or exceed the quality expectations of customers and are thoroughly tested.

Pricing is a critical element of the marketing mix. Most customers will only be prepared to pay a premium if there is a perception of additional product value.

This value may be improved performance, function, design, visual appeal or taste. Environmental benefits are usually an added bonus but will often be the deciding factor between products of equal value and quality.

Environmentally responsible products, however, are often less expensive when product life cycle costs are taken into consideration. For example fuel - efficient vehicles, water - efficient printing and non - hazardous products.


Ashish have more than 7 years of consumer marketing experience in Home care, Personal care and Beverages. Ashish completed MIB from IMT Ghaziabad and B. Tech from Kurukshetra University. ...