Defining Green Marketing

image by pomme_rewnyThe American Marketing Association (AMA) defines Green Marketing as:

1. (retailing definition) The marketing of products that are presumed to be environmentally safe. 2. (social marketing definition) The development and marketing of products designed to minimize negative effects on the physical environment or to improve its quality. 3. (environments definition) The efforts by organizations to produce, promote, package, and reclaim products in a manner that is sensitive or responsive to ecological concerns.

Until recently, the retailing definition was considered by the AMA to be sufficient. Thankfully, the definition has expanded to include the social marketing perspective and the environmental marketing perspective. Also known as environmental marketing and ecological marketing, the time has come for marketing practitioners to develop a comprehensive definition of green marketing. The purpose of this blog is to seek your assistance in formulating a new, comprehensive definition.

Using the traditional marketing mix, an overview of green marketing concerns and solutions is provided below. The links represent some of the best practices in green marketing efforts and are offered as a starting point to foster discussion.


The first element of the marketing mix examined is product. Product represents the good or service offered. Green considerations for product include product materials, components and design, product packaging, product recycling or environmental impact, green supply chain management and carbon footprint impacts of product offerings. From a service perspective, the latter is the most important consideration. Sources of information for green product considerations include:

Green Products Innovation Institute (GPII):

“…the GPII is set up to be a resource for those who aspire to do “more good”. We promote an innovation-oriented model for eliminating toxic chemicals and other negative environmental impacts. The GPII prescribes a set of design principles, based on the laws of nature, to help businesses create products that are safe for people and the environment. This rethinking of how we design, manufacture, use and reuse materials will spur a new era of innovation, simultaneously driving economic, ecological and social prosperity.”

Carnegie Mellon Green Design Institute:

“The Green Design Institute is a major interdisciplinary education and research effort to make an impact on environmental quality through green design. The central idea of the institute is to form partnerships with companies, government agencies and foundations to develop pioneering design, management, manufacturing, and regulatory processes that can improve environmental quality and product quality while enhancing economic development.”

Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC):

“…is an industry working group dedicated to a more robust environmental vision for packaging. Through strong member support, an informed and science-based approach, visionary supply chain collaborations and continuous outreach, we endeavor to build packaging systems that encourage economic prosperity and a sustainable flow of materials.”

Issues related to the green supply chain, included under the discussion on product from a material input perspective, will be featured at the forthcoming Green Supply Chain Forum at Florida State University, 3-4 March 2011.

Place (Distribution):

Green logistical concerns seek to maximize distribution while minimizing negative impacts on the environment, mostly from a carbon footprint perspective. Managing logistical operations, modes and materials to minimize environmental impact is one of the more difficult tasks associated with green marketing. One of the leading sources of research on green logistics is a partnership between six U.K. Universities:

Green Logistics

“The main objective of logistics is to co-ordinate these activities in a way that meets customer requirements at minimum cost. In the past this cost has been defined in purely monetary terms. As concern for the environment rises, companies must take more account of the external costs of logistics associated mainly with climate change, air pollution, noise, vibration and accidents. This research project is examining ways of reducing these externalities and achieving a more sustainable balance between economic, environmental and social objectives.”


Green pricing is not well researched, nor does it have an institute dedicated to its study. As highlighted in A Call to Eliminate the Green Premium, price considerations for green product and service offerings need to be adjusted to meet consumer expectations. While price is the only mechanism used by businesses to recover cost of production and to make a profit (fixed cost per unit, variable cost per unit and gross margin per unit), savings related to green business practices are expected to result in lower prices, not higher prices. More research is needed in the area of green pricing.


How green is your promotion mix (sales promotion, advertising, personal selling and public relations)? What is the impact of your print and digital media on the environment? Do you insist on the use of recycled paper, soy-based inks and energy efficient equipment? What is the carbon footprint of your promotion efforts? These questions are becomingly increasingly important for purchasers of advertising and communication services to ask of their suppliers. In the near future, agencies will need to quantify the impact on the environment of their communications output in order to be certified as approved green supply chain vendors. Championing the need for green communication efforts is the

Institute for Sustainable Communication (ISC)

“ISC’s mission is to raise awareness, build capacity and foster the widespread adoption of economically viable, environmentally restorative and socially constructive uses of print and digital media.”

Defining Green Marketing

Is the AMA’s definition sufficient? In my opinion, green marketing encompasses so much more than offering green products/services. It should include considerations of green processes in all aspects of the marketing mix. Work with me to develop a comprehensive definition of green marketing by contributing to the comment section of this post. The synthesized definition will be presented in a future blog. How do you define green marketing?


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