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Green marketing and greenwashing …and a thin line between (II)

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Part 2 – Green marketing

Authors: Tihon Cvijić and Danko Kalkan

Marketing always follows changes in society and economic development. Given the growing public awareness of climate change issues and environmental challenges, companies are adapting their products and services. Companies nominally want to be part of the solution to the mentioned challenges, and with this knowledge about the connection between environmental and economic business goals, they create their strategies. To implement the strategy, companies use the so-called green marketing, which aims to enable consumers to recognize products and services as an adequate offer that meets their needs, while design, quality and price have the least harmful impact on the environment. Thus, green marketing (GM) appears as a response to the increased awareness of individuals about environmental protection. GM belongs to socially responsible marketing and socially responsible business. In the literature, GM is identified with terms such as: “environmental marketing”, “eco marketing”, “sustainable marketing”, “environmentally responsible marketing”, “environmentally friendly marketing”.

green zeleni marketing
Designed by pch.vector / Freepik

According to Polonsky, GM “…consists of all activities designed to generate and facilitate any exchange aimed at satisfying human needs or desires, in such a way that the satisfaction of those needs and desires takes place with the least harmful impact on the natural environment.”

There are five reasons why companies use GM:

1) Organizations see GM as an opportunity they can use to meet their goals – Awareness of pollution and the need for greater environmental protection is growing among residents and the economy, and these companies see their business opportunity in this increase in awareness.

2) Organizations believe that they have a moral obligation to be socially responsible – Companies, realizing that they are part of the wider community, integrate environmental protection into their corporate culture. Organizations can choose whether to promote their environmental activities or not.

3) Government bodies impose on companies the obligation to be more responsible – the Government can influence the company’s activities by adopting policies and laws that protect the environment. Also, the government can encourage consumers to make smart decisions, through various campaigns, seminars and the like.

4) Activities of competition in the field of environmental protection pressure companies to change their marketing activities – The pressure of competition can lead to major changes and complete reversals in certain industries.

5) Costs associated with waste management or reduction of material use force companies to change behavior – GM can also be initiated by the issue of cost reduction. In some cases, reducing the use of harmful substances or better waste management results not only in environmental, but also in significant monetary benefits by reducing costs.

From all the above, it can be concluded that the use of GM brings various potential benefits for companies. But the question is whether at the same time the overall interests of consumers are satisfied. In other words, the basic question of the application of this type of marketing is its accuracy and correctness of the use of marketing messages. Companies are required to practice what they claim through marketing messages. In this regard, Kotler states that the good practice of GM requires the following:

– a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the company in terms of environmental performance in environmental manag,

– commitment to monitoring, auditing, reporting and measuring performance improvements,

– development of environmental policy with clear goals and action plan,

– monitoring the evolution of the green agenda (monitoring of the main trends, laws, etc.)

– investing in employee training, science and technology,

– consumer assistance and training programs to increase the level of consumer responsibility,

– supplier training,

– contribution to environmental protection programs

– greater commitment to marketing values: selling benefits, not products, and preserving corporate, not just product values.

The challenges that arise in the application of GM are various. First, companies can modify their products based on consumer pressure and concerns based on incorrect perceptions. This leads the company on the wrong path of not achieving a realistic positive goal in environmental protection. Furthermore, in a large number of cases, smaller companies follow the leader without a critical review of the claimed marketing messages, which in turn leads to a potential negative effect on the environment. Finally, the facts that apply today may prove to be incorrect in the near future. Thus, companies that find themselves in this situation may risk public condemnation for manipulation.

Overall, in order to fully fulfill its function, GM requires consumers to have a high level of knowledge and awareness of environmental challenges.

The next article in the series brings the story of the abuse of green marketing.

A positive example of the use of green marketing – FROSCH


Frosch is a brand of Werner & Mertz GmbH for household chemicals and cosmetics. As early as the 1980s, the company began to apply the principles of sustainable development within this brand.

Today, this company bases its products on 9 environmental aspects:

1. “Green Force Formula” – the use of natural active ingredients,

2. Use of ingredients from renewable and highly degradable ingredients based on plant origin,

3. Minimized use of condoms and perfumes to prevent adverse effects on the skin,

4. Without the use of phosphates, borates, formaldehyde, EDTA and organohalogen components,

5. Minimal use of packaging, use of recycled and recyclable materials,

6. No use of ingredients of animal origin (vegan-friendly)

7. Production processes are certified through the following standards: EMAS (Eco Management and Audit Scheme), ISO 50001 (energy management) and A.I.S.E eco management (International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products),

8. Own capacities for wastewater treatment,

9. More than 30 years of experience in the development and production of environmentally friendly cleaning and personal care products.

frosch sustainability
frosch eco
frosch ecological


Sanja Tišma, „Zaštita okoliša i marketing“, Socijalna ekologija 10, br. 3, 2001, str. 198-193,, accessed on 14.11.2020.)

Zrinka Tolušić, Ena Dumančić, Karla Bogdan, „Društveno odgovorno poslovanje i zeleni marketing“, Agroeconomia Croatica 4, br. 1 (2014): 25-31., accessed on 14.11.2020.)

P. Kotler, G. Armstrong, J. Saunders, V. Wong, „Principles of Marketing“, Second European Edition, Prentice Hall Europe, 1999.

Pictures for given example had been taken from the official website of the brand Frosch (, accessed on 14.11.2020.)

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