Taking good business as meaning profitable, Catherine Bennett reflects on “green marketing” and its role in boosting profits. The message consumers seem to have readily accepted is that environmentally it is okay to keep on shopping provided you switch to “green” products.
The mantra of “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle” seems to be lost in the current “green movement” – where marketing efforts have been redirected to using the “environment” as a selling message.
“Green” products may be better in certain environmental terms than alternative options (although not as much as some of the advertising claims), but this is still consumerism.
But can we blame – or credit – marketing/public relations for the burgeoning “green” business? Aren’t the same techniques being used by environmental groups, local authorities and others who seek to change behaviours? Is it a case of bigger budgets influencing publics more?
At the start of the 20th century, efforts of public relations practitioners such as Edward Bernays – used shopping to create Happiness Machines; turning the population into consumers rather than citizens, by fulfilling their desires, not just their needs.
A century later, it appears the power of this strategy – fuelled by the needs of business and governments – remains. The public will change their behaviour – but only if they can carry on shopping. Are we really that selfish or easily manipulated?