Does SD really create a competitive advantage?

During one of the class discussions, a popular opinion emerged that suggests consumers are not overly concerned as to whether or not we make Green Choices. Unfortunately, I agree with this sentiment; creating a demand for green products or practices is not as simple as slapping on an eco-label and writing out a sustainable development vision on company websites.

Reports have shown that there is a desire to support sustainable development. However, Joel Makower’s article “WC Retro: Green Marketing –Lesson From the Leader” , discusses how our choices seem to contradict our ethical values. As the article explains, Phillips had a light bulb that was energy saving and longer lasting, but was only popular in Europe and not in the U.S. The difference is that the bulb addressed the needs of the European consumer due to high energy costs. They were willing to pay a higher price for the product because it met a need. The US consumers, on the other hand, were not as willing to pay the higher price despite the efficiency because it did not meet their immediate needs.

Therefore, businesses still have to focus marketing efforts on the direct benefits to the consumer and add the tagline of “environmentally friendly” to allow the consumer to feel good about their product purchase.

The very popular Toyota Hybrid avoided the eco-friendly marketing campaign during product launch because they believed consumers would not have taken the product seriously. Instead, they focused on gas savings, a direct benefit to the consumer.

It seems that we still have a long way to go before consumers automatically make green choices. Perhaps industry should be looking at creative marketing instead of the government to help us find a solution.

Catherine Yarker

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Posted in sustainable living, sustainable technologies

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