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Green marketing

Green marketing, which initially emerged in the early 1990s in the developed countries, involves the procuring and supplying of products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment, as compared to competing products or services that serve the same purpose.

The goal of a green marketing program is to implement approaches that enable companies to purchase and supply products or services of a high quality, at the most reasonable cost, while also lowering the impact on the environment and human health. Green marketing has the potential to impact sustainable consumption and also result in significant shifts in demand and supply, on the basis of environmental performance.

While the development of these items is at a nascent stage, consumers are helping drive Research&Development efforts due to increasing awareness about climate changes and rising energy prices, heightened focus on health and safety, and the desire to help contribute to the preservation of the environment. Green marketing typically aims to satisfy customers and improve the quality of the environment. Retailers must take several initiatives to shift their focus from niche to mainstream consumers, make green products affordable and thereby contribute in solving environmental issues.

Environmental and social impacts can occur at any stage of a product’s life cycle from extraction/ acquisition of raw materials, transportation, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, operation, maintenance and disposal or reuse of the product or service.

Our primary research interviews suggest that green marketing and other sustainability practices are in the initial stages of being incorporated into modern trade. The following aspects related to the development of green marketing initiatives in India were obtained through our primary research efforts—

  • Absence of consumer demand for green products - Some retailers are not focusing on green marketing at this time since their consumers are not demanding environment-friendly products and services.

  • Focus on operations and improving profitability - Some retailers indicate that they are choosing to focus on improving operations and strengthening the profitability of their ventures, before addressing non-core activities, like sustainable practices and development.

  • Reducing carbon footprint - Selected retailers, such as McDonald’s, are committed to reducing their carbon footprints. To that end, the company removed prechillers from its restaurants and found a way to direct cool air from ACs to the coke system which results in chilled coke. The company, in addition to using biodegradable packaging, also constantly refreshes air in their restaurants; during low volume periods, McDonald’s adjusts fresh air refreshment levels to reduce carbon emissions.

  • Making initial strides - Interviewed retailers plan to embark upon some or most of the following tactics towards sustainable practices:

    • Reducing the number of plastic bags given to consumers since plastics and

packaging are high costs items

Strategic Issues for Retail CEOs* : Perspectives on Operating in India’s Retail Sector

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