Green Marketing in India - Intentions and Actions

After a pretty long time I went to Big Bazaar at East Delhi Mall, Ghaziabad last weekend to do some household purchases. Usually my wife do all the shopping as she has the home ministry.
At the cash counter i saw this signage.

 A question came into my mind, "whether paid polybags (earlier it was free) will encourage "intentions" and "actions" towards adoption of green products?"

A recent green marketing research (PDF) in US by a leading communications company Ogilvy says 82% of consumers have good green intentions, but only 16% are dedicated to fulfilling these intentions. This puts 66% in what is called the Middle Green, a group that is neither active environment crusaders nor anti-greens. These are the massive middle, the everyday mainstream consumers.
The 12 key points from an article at Carbon49 written by Derek Wong regarding green marketing are valid for Indian market too and somehow it suggest other elements to complement the impact "intentions" part. The points are:
  1. Make green normal: Mainstream consumers are reluctant to go green because they don’t want to be seen as ideological crusaders. Going green attracts unwanted attention from their families, friends, colleagues, and neighbours as if they have adopted a new identity and that they no longer belong to the main group. Marketers should make consumers feel like everybody’s doing it. Show them numerous cases where other people just like them are also going green. Make middle-of-the-road mainstream consumers feel going green is normal behaviour, not oddball behaviour.
  2. Make it personal: Don’t focus on the benefits for the planet or future generations, but on the benefits for them personally, e.g. less toxin going into their body
  3. Make green choice the default: Green is not an optional extra. Don’t ask consumers choose to go green. Green should be the default choice. For example, make no plastic shopping bag the default, allow consumers to pay extra for one. They don’t need to choose to be green because green is the default, they need to choose to be non-green.
  4. Remove price premium: Where possible, remove the price premium for green products. The message should be green is normal, not just for the rich.
  5. Bribe shamelessly: Offer treats along the way of their behavioural change, e.g. prizes, kudos, rewards, gold stars, public recognition.
  6. Punish wisely: Small doses of guilt and shame can motivate behavioural changes, especially if they are also reminded of the green options available to them.
  7. Don’t stop innovating: Make better stuff. Consumers are reluctant to sacrifice performance for sustainability.
  8. Lose the crunch: Green marketing needs to be more mainstream hip than off-the-grid hippie. Market green as one of the secondary features instead of the leading feature: ‘Great performance, also friendly to the environment.’ Many consumers assume products with a primary focus on being green to have subpar performance, cost more, and are geared towards hippies.
  9. Turn eco-friendly into ego-friendly: Green marketing often has a feminine image. Girly green needs a manly counterpart.
  10. Make it tangible: Toyota Prius displays real time fuel economy information on the dashboard.
  11. Make it easy to navigate: Design labels to be simple and clear. Consumers are often confused and suspicious to environmental claims.
  12. Tap into hedonism over altruism: Project an experience and image that is fun and exciting to be in a sustainable world rather than projecting it as an act of ‘charitable’ contribution.
 In India we also have large middle green group whose behaviour towards marketing and use of green products should be changed from oddball to a normal behaviour and this can be done only through imbibing intentional element in purchase process. In a marketer's point of view green marketing in India should be transformed from a trend to revolution and the steps we are taking is not sufficient.
    Your comments are welcome
    Dharmendra Pandey


    1. Sir,
      A really nice blog...but i hav a bit different opinion on this issue.
      these big retail chains hav started charging for polubags, but in my opinion its no 'green marketing' bcos these stores are just taking advantage of situation, these are making monetory benefits from the situation. These are trying to target the '66%' people mentioned in ur article. If they really wanna do effort to really go green they shud stop producing polybags n start producing just paper bags.
      Because in this way, they will hav to incur cost of paper bags but polybags wud abolish slowly n gradually by itself....cos once polybags wont be produced, no one will even demand a polybag. because its not a neccesity or any addictive product that ppl will go n purchase polybags in blak markets. Thus, i just beleive that this kind of green markeing is just a way of reaping profits out of the situation n its nothing really for the benefit of environment

    2. Thank you Nishant for your valuable comments.
      Your concern is somehow justified but what we need today is discouraging all the means which is against the adoption of green products and this initiative is the right step towards it but its not sufficient in long run because it alters the behaviur forcefully not intentionally.
      The suggestion given by you regarding replacing paper bags is still not feasible as it seems to be because, manufacturing of paper bags needs lots of water as compared to plastic bags and carbon emissions are more in case of manufacturing paper bags.Recycling of paper bags is also costly. Durability also plays important role while using carry bags for groceries stores and other similar retail use. 500 million polybags are being sold through these retailers worldwide every year
      so at present there is no perfect replacement for plastic bags.
      Few solutions could be:
      We can encourage re-use of same plastic bags several times by the same user and then it should be send for recycling.
      More R&D efforts required.
      The business ethics followed should be monitored

    3. polybags are not all harmful they can be recycled. Its always us who are responsible for environmental problems where in case of polybags they are not harming environment because in india only 5% is plastic waste so it cant be said that its sole reason for pollution.Well I agree with nishant there is business everywhere they just need a loophole. Plastic can be used In Construction roads it will help roads to last long. Its one way of recycling plastic.


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