Marketing a green brand

Lynette Ryals
Cranfield School of Management

Professor Lynette Ryals reviews what is known about the green consumer and how marketing practices have to change to promote a green brand.

When marketers look back on the teen years of the 21st century, the biggest change that will characterise this era – the zeitgeist of 21st century marketing – will be the green issue and marketing's role as the 'bad boy', encouraging us to buy and use more of our planet's precious resources. It is clear that marketing practices need to change. In this article I review what is known about the green consumer, and about brand marketing, and use these principles to suggest how to market and promote a brand with green values.

It is clear that marketing and promoting a green brand are increasingly important skills for marketers. There is a growing trend towards the 'greening' of products and brands, improving their environmental and sustainable credentials. One widely-cited example is the greening of Frito-Lay's SunChips. Already positioned as a healthier snack because of its whole grains and lower salt content, the greening of the brand that began in 2007 also involved initiatives around solar power at its manufacturing facilities, plus the first fully-compostable snack packaging (although that was later withdrawn). Interbrand has inaugurated an annual listing of Best Global Green Brands, indicating the impact that the green trend is having on brand marketing; many of the leading brands they list are existing brands that have been 'greened', rather than new green brands.