We're continuing our journey through 13 different services offered by sustainability consultants, and today we're focusing on the #3 most popular type of offering:
3. Marketing/Communications (54.1%)
Communicating the “green message.”
This category of sustainability consulting services can be divided into two general sub-categories:
- Firms that offer general marketing services (e.g. public relations, or market research) to green companies
- Firms that offer "green marketing" services (e.g. sustainability reporting or green product positioning) to all companies.
Many companies will overlap into both sub-categories, but most will position themselves as leaning one way or another.
"Green marketing" is currently a very challenging space to play in. There has been a plethora of articles as of late that suggest that green marketing may be a waste of time, or as Joel Makower of GreenBiz puts it, “Green Marketing is Over. Let’s Move On.” Makower says that green products have been, “underwhelming, overpriced, inconvenient, ineffective, or unavailable.”
Of course, green marketing and communications firms have shot back at these claims. Suzanne Shelton, green market guru responded directly to Makower's article, saying:
Sigh. You're missing the point, my friend. Even though you say you're defining "green marketing" as "marketing aimed at getting people to buy stuff that's better for the environment," that's not really what you're lamenting. What you seem to be upset about, what you seem to be declaring dead, is the marketing of stuff that's good for the environment with an environmental message attached to it. Marketing products, in essence, with an "it'll save the planet!" message. That is dead. In fact, it was mostly never alive. Very few Americans have ever bought stuff because they want to save the planet. As I've hammered home in this blog countless times, people buy green products for a host of other reasons -- to feel more comfortable, to gain peace of mind, to limit the chemicals their families are exposed to, to feel independent, to feel smart, and/or to have something beautiful they can look at all day long..It doesn't matter to us at all that people don't buy green products to save the planet, as long as they buy them. Our approach, in fact, is to figure out exactly what motivates a consumer in a particular category and leverage that to get them to buy.
With the new revised guidelines on green marketing from the FTC, the growing number of companies that are reporting publicly on their sustainability initiatives, and the vibrant discussion within the sustainability industry about green marketing vs. green-washing -- we predict that green marketing services are here to stay.
Common Jargon and Terminology: Green PR, Sustainable Social Media, Green Talk, Green Branding, Environmental Communications, Market Research, etc.
Where You’ve Seen It: Taiga Company specializes in social media services for green companies. Green Canary's team emphasizes its team's experience in "above all else, communications and marketing." J. Ottman Consulting is renowned for their green branding services.
See the other types of sustainability consulting we've already covered:
Check out our past blogs to follow the “State of the Sustainability Consulting Industry” series:
- What Sustainability Consulting Is (and Isn’t),
- Types of Sustainability Consulting Organizations,
- By the Numbers: U.S. Sustainability Consulting Market,
- and State of the Sustainability Consulting Industry to learn more about the background for these findings
If you are a new or aspiring sustainability consultant and would like to take your practice to the next level, check out the 2013 Consultant Cohort: a 6-month intensive program hosted by the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) and led by SSC President Jennifer Woofter.