Greenwashing

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Introduction

Greenwashing is a marketing strategy that companies use to make misleading and unsubstantiated claims about their operations being environmentally friendly. They main aim is to make the customers believe that the technology, services, products, or company practice are environmentally friendly (Furlow, 2010, p.22). The evidence that is used to show that a company is greenwashing is the differences in spending on advertisement and environmental sound practices. Most companies that greenwash spend a lot in advertising the company as being green so as to create a belief to the customers that the products are environmentally friendly. Changing the name of the product to one that has a natural environment connotation has been one of the commonly used methods of greenwashing. The aim of this paper is to show why greenwashing is relevant to marketing, how it will change marketing, and the impact it will have in the future.

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Relevance of Greenwashing to Marketing

Greenwashing has become a significant part of the marketing strategy used by most companies in an attempt to enhance the customer base. Greenwashing is a strategy that has proved to work for many companies because the current trends show that consumers are critical of the products they consume. Customers have begun purchasing products that they believe are environmentally friendly in an attempt to make an impact in conservation (Kärnä, Hansen, and Juslin, 2003, p.847). Most companies have become aware of the trend that has in the past few years had a significant impact on the consumption patterns. Some companies find it expensive to engage in operations that are friendly to the environment. As a result, they focus on making false advertisements that pose the products as ‘green’ and that when used help in conserving the environment. The current trends of consumers focusing on buying green products have been as a result of health benefits as well as the environmental impact they have. In the wake of global warming, most consumers are conscious of the product they use (Choudhary, and Gokarn, 2013, p.29). For instance, the marketing of spices shows that they are made from purely natural products whereas most of them are pure chemicals.

Greenwashing is also relevant to marketing because it has spoilt for the sales of real green products in the market. Most of the companies that practice greenwashing do it in response to the high market share some of the competitors that have green products may be having. As a result, the consumers might be duped to believe that the products being advertised are green products yet it is just misinformation to make them purchase them. The real green products get unfair competition from the products that have been marketed using greenwashing. The consumers are at the receiving end since they are not aware the real green products since all the advertisements made by the genuine and false companies convince the consumers that the products are green. The consumers might fall for the false advertisement; hence, ending up purchasing the fake products. It has a significant effect on the real green products because the environmentally conscious customers are duped to purchase the products that are not environmentally friendly (Coppolecchia, 2009, p.1355). The real green products do not have a fair ground to compete with other products in the market, making the sales to decline significantly. Moreover, it has made the customers to doubt the real green products because of the increased cases of greenwashing.

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How Greenwashing Will Change Marketing

Greenwashing is affecting marketing in a very substantial way. One of the wa6ys in which marketing has changed is through the creation of perceptions to the customers in the attempt to make the purchase the advertised products. It is critical to note that most of the companies have begun investing greatly on marketing their products as green as opposed to the traditional methods of advertising. It is believed to be a way of ensuring that the customers are made to believe that consuming the products will make them contribute significantly towards the conservation of the environment. The trend of marketing is continuing to change as many companies are trying to get a position in the market. As a result, greenwashing is becoming a significant marketing strategy to most of the companies since it has proved to be of great benefit to gaining competitiveness in the market.

Greenwashing is affecting the customers significantly, and as a result, it has a great impact on marketing. One of the ways in which the consumers are affected is through the influence on their perception about various products. For instance, a marketing strategy that is aimed at showing the benefits of a particular product in regards to the environment influences the consumption patterns of the customers (Chen, and Chang, 2013, p.493). They may stop using the products they purchased before and begin trying the new products that have been advertised as green. The changing of the perception of the consumers falsely has had a negative impact on the consumption of genuine products.

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Many consumers have changed their preference to products that have a positive impact on the environment. Statistics state that there has been an increase in the consumption of products that are eco-friendly by 73%. However, 95% of these products are by companies that give false information to the consumers; hence, increasing the sales of the products (Dahl, 2010, p.248). It is, therefore, evident that the market share of the products that have been greenwashed is continuing to increase and affecting the consumption patterns in the market. Many consumers are spending their money on products that are believed to be eco-friendly in an attempt to make a contribution to the conservation of the environment despite the small impact it might have. However, the consumers are not aware of the products that are real green and those that are being advertised as green to increase the levels of consumption. Therefore, most find themselves purchasing both products that are genuinely green and those that are not. The increased consumption of the products has been as a result of the need to address the increased effects of environmental pollution by various industries. The increased consumption of green products is to encourage other industries and companies to take a similar route to increase their sales (Saini, 2013, p.62).

Future Impacts of Greenwashing

Greenwashing is becoming a norm in the market, and most of the companies have adopted it so as to have a competitive advantage in the market. The cost of operations in making sure that a company complies with the eco-friendly standards is high and may affect the profitability of the company to a great extent. As a result, providing false information to the consumers has proved to be the easiest way of increasing the number of products that are consumed in the market (Fliegelman, 2010, p.1004). Therefore, more companies are continuing to use greenwashing to market their products which mean that in future, there will be an increase in the marketing strategy.

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The cost of products in the future will be forced to increase due to the demands of the market to provide products that are environmentally friendly. It is important to note that sometimes it requires more capital so as to conform to the standards that are eco-friendly. It means that the companies will have to increase the costs of the products so as to cater for the increased cost of production (Lim et al., 2013, p.37). However, there are exceptions when the cost will go down, especially when the company focuses on using recycled materials for production.

Different steps can be employed so as to deal with the menace of greenwashing. One of the ways is to enhance ethical marketing by ensuring there is labeling of the ingredients used to make the product. It will require the regulation from a licensed institution to ensure that the information provided is true. Moreover, the use of government policies will play a significant role in ensuring that the consumers are provided with the correct information (Feinstein, 2013, p.230).

Conclusion

Greenwashing has become one of the commonly used methods of marketing so as to increase the sales of products to the consumers that have become environmentally conscious. However, it has had an adverse effect on the products that are genuinely green. It has become a prevalent practice which has affected the consumption pattern of green products significantly. There are minimal chances of the practice coming to an end in future unless the relevant authorities take strict measures.

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  1. Chen, Y.S., and Chang, C.H., 2013. Greenwash and green trust: The mediation effects of green consumer confusion and green perceived risk. Journal of Business Ethics, 114(3), pp.489-500.
  2. Choudhary, A. and Gokarn, S., 2013. Green Marketing: A means for sustainable development. Journal of Arts, Science, and Commerce, 4(1), pp.26-32.
  3. Coppolecchia, E.K., 2009. The greenwashing deluge: who will rise above the waters of deceptive advertising. U. Miami L. Rev., 64, p.1353.
  4. Dahl, R., 2010. Greenwashing: Do you know what you’re buying. Environmental health perspectives, 118(6), pp.A246-A252.
  5. Feinstein, N., 2013. Learning from past mistakes: future regulation to prevent greenwashing. BC Envtl. Aff. L. Rev., 40, p.229.
  6. Fliegelman, J.E., 2010. The next generation of greenwash: diminishing consumer confusion through a national eco-labeling program. Fordham Urb. LJ, 37, p.1001.
  7. Furlow, N.E., 2010. Greenwashing in the new millennium. The Journal of Applied Business and Economics, 10(6), p.22.
  8. Kärnä, J., Hansen, E., and Juslin, H., 2003. Social responsibility in environmental marketing planning. European Journal of Marketing, 37(5/6), pp.848-871.
  9. Lim, W.M., Ting, D.H., Ng, W.K., Chin, J.H. and Boo, W.X.A., 2013. Why Green Products Remain Unfavorable Despite Being Labelled Environmentally-Friendly. Contemporary Management Research, 9(1), p.35.
  10. Saini, B., 2013. Green marketing and its impact on consumer buying behavior. International Journal of Engineering Science Invention, 2(2), pp.61-64.
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