Monday, June 20, 2011

Canadian Responsible Investment Conference: Green Marketing Misses the Mark

Green marketing is over, says branding expert Marc Stoiber. Speaking on the opening day of the Canadian Responsible Investment Conference in Victoria, Stoiber says it's time to move on to new methods of promotion for the green movement, including SRI, since it's clear the traditional approach has missed the mark.

Mainstream consumers have not been willing to vote with their dollars, Stoiber pointed out. “We're preaching to the choir.” The problem is that green is perceived as both expensive and suspicious, he says. A survey suggests that even Fortune 500 companies can't do green marketing correctly.

As for SRI, “it's wide but it's not deep,” Stoiber stated, noting that what started as a retail movement has become more institutional. And the belief is that large investors, such as pension funds, are investing relatively small amounts of money into SRI so they can check off a box.

Make green normal, Stoiber suggests and “lose the crunchy granola. The mainstream wants to blend in.” Make green better and make it less confusing, he adds. The terminology doesn't matter, Stoiber says, pointing to the often-confusing array of names attached to SRI, including ethical and sustainable investing. “Don't tell me you're green, call it innovation. And don't talk about green, talk about performance.”

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