Column : The new black

Written by Alokananda Chakraborty | Updated: Aug 9 2009, 02:35am hrs
Remember the Surf Excel detergent commercial some years ago that spoke of saving waterdo bucket paani roz bachana Well look deeper: the environment is not just a selling proposition for marketers in India today. Its imperativeto build sales and the business. Recent surveys show Indian consumers are particularly inclined to seek products with sustainable values and to favour companies they consider green. This despite the fact that eco-friendly and energy-efficient products could be anywhere between 5-25% costlier.

One look at the shop shelves will attest to the fact that mass consumer interest is shifting. The likes of Godrej, Whirlpool ,Samsung and LG have made their airconditioner and refrigerator ranges star-rated. Philips hopes in another three-four years, close to 30% of its revenue will come from green products. It is said to have kicked off a pilot project for voluntary collection and recycling in countries like India and Brazil.

Then there is home-grown Godrej that claims that even the foam in its refrigerators can be recycled. And the shop assistant for Godrej product will tell you that for a five-star rated appliance, the saving on power bills through its lifecycle works out to double the price at which the appliance is bought in the first place.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are industries under fire: plastic shopping bags, childrens toys that are supposedly laced with lead paint, and the everyday water bottles made with harmful chemicals. A variety of societal factors are driving consumers to increasingly seek out differentiated products. Clearly, there is an opportunity in waiting. A clever marketer is one who not only convinces the consumer about his commitment to the cause, but also co-opts the consumer in promoting responsible consumption. For green marketing to be effective, marketers need to bring a whole life-cycle approach to itwherein the production, marketing, consumption and even disposal of products and services happen in a manner that is less harmful to the environment.