It’s not easy being green
Firms that have the will to be eco-friendly often don’t have the means, reports Gulf Marketing Review.
January 28, 2010 6:47 by Alex Malouf
After Alkhudair and his team set the example in-house, KPMG decided to spread the green message among clients. “We established a monthly email called KPMG Green for our clients and ourselves. It was a very good initiative for us. We didn’t use it for corporate but rather for CSR purposes. We placed the recycling and green initiative as the core of our KPMG foundation which we are building up.”
As KPMG’s marketing executive notes, companies in Saudi Arabia such as Saudi Telecom and Abdul Latif Jameel are spending more and more on CSR, including environmental issues as they follow in the footsteps of oil and gas companies such as Aramco. However, both Hughes and Byatt warn against companies using green causes for the sake of making money.
“Using the green issue as a gimmick has been tried and backfires badly in the face of the amount of knowledge that consumers have access to today and the viral effect of the internet once something becomes known. There’s even a word to describe this kind of false environmental advertising – it’s called ‘greenwash’. Companies caught doing this get pounded in the marketplace,” says Byatt.
“In Europe as much as there are serious and sensible messages there is also a massive awareness that this is a good marketing gimmick to add to your portfolio,” adds Hughes, who also points out that firms here are yet to adopt such marketing tactics. “In contrast here there is a growing awareness of using green issues in marketing. I was doing training recently on carbon credits. The example used was that there is a voluntary emissions program where you can offset carbon credits online. Carbon offset programs cost car companies a dozen dollars or so, which they are using to market their brands. There is nothing untoward here but it is using green marketing to get you noticed.”
One company whose unique selling point is its green credentials is the handmade cosmetics chain Lush, which opened a franchise in Saudi Arabia several years ago. Bucking research in the Europe and the US which points to lower spending on green products during a recession, Lush recently expanded its operations in Riyadh.