The growing role of environmental projects in firms' marketing efforts was again highlighted last week after a new survey found that half of UK marketing and PR professionals believe a company's green credentials are important to customers.
The survey of 125 UK firms from GreenPortfolio, the environmental relations arm of PR company Portfolio Communications, also found that eight out of ten believe this importance will grow over the next two years. The report concluded that green initiatives are becoming a marketing "must" with almost 60 percent of respondents claiming it gives firms a competitive advantage. Just under half said that customers are also willing to pay more for green products.
However, the survey also found a concerning disconnect between the proportion of PR professionals convinced of the value of green marketing campaigns and the actual number of campaigns being instigated. Three quarters of firms claimed to have no green marketing campaign in place and only a third said there was senior management support for environmental initiatives.
Rebecca Dunstan, environmental PR consultant at GreenPortfolio, said that firms that don’t go green run the risk of losing customers, employees and shareholders. But she added that firms were not being professional enough in how they are marketing free initatives "It’s clear there’s a need to do more planning in this area," she argued. "A phenomenal number of companies have no green marketing plans in place at all and even those that do tend to approach environmental issues on an ad hoc basis."
The survey also uncovered a lack of awareness of the commercial benefits - such as cost savings and improved sales - which green business models can deliver. Eighty percent of respondents said that regulations were the main driver for adopting green initiatives, while less than a quarter agreed that being green increased profitability, suggesting that many firms continue to focus on the short term costs associated with the transition to green business models rather than the long term benefits.
Worryingly over half also felt that firms are marketing themselves as green when they have not made the changes necessary to make such a claim - a scenario that is damaging the credibility of all those firms adopting genuinely sustainablke business processes.
Execs said that green campaigns are most likely to focus on PR and internet activities, rather than traditional advertising. But it seems that many will have to develop these initiatives on a tight budget with almost a third saying they expected no extra budget to drive green campaigns and only 13 percent saying they will enjoy a significant green marketing warchest.
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