Green Marketing vs. Greenwashing. Saving the world as a marketing strategy

Textbook, 2020

67 Pages


Table of contents

List of figures

List of abbreviations

1 Introduction
1.1 Problem statement
1.2 Objective of this paper
1.3 Structure of the work and methodical approach

2 The concept of sustainability
2.1 Definition and classification
2.2 Dimensions and goals of sustainability
2.2.1 Ecological dimension of sustainability
2.2.2 Social dimension of sustainability
2.2.3 Economic dimension of sustainability
2.3 Changing values in today's society

3 Green Marketing
3.1 Definition and classification
3.2 Classification in the marketing mix
3.2.1 Ecology-oriented product policy
3.2.2 Ecology-oriented pricing policy
3.2.3 Ecology-oriented distribution policy
3.2.4 Ecology-oriented communication policy
3.3 Green marketing as a success factor

4 Greenwashing
4.1 Definition and classification
4.2 Methods and strategies
4.2.1 Ads and advertising campaigns
4.2.2 Sustainability Reports / Corporate Social Responsibility Reports
4.2.3 Use of eco-jargon
4.2.4 Third party technology
4.2.5 Eco-certifications
4.3 Greenwashing example RWE – The environmentally conscious energy giant
4.4 Consequences of Greenwashing

5 Example of a company: Green marketing at Lidl
5.1 The Company
5.2 Marketing
5.2.1 PR measures
5.2.2 Lidl – Every bottle counts action
5.2.3 Lidl – "responsibly packaged" logo
5.2.4 Cooperation with Bioland
5.3 Seriousness of Lidl's intentions – green marketing or greenwashing?

6 Recommendations for action and conclusion
6.1 Recommendations for action for companies
6.2 Recommendations for action for consumers



List of figures

Illustration 1 Three-pillar model

Illustration 2 Environmental awareness in Germany 2018

Illustration 3 Social and ecological responsibility as a purchase criterion

Illustration 4 RWE - the environmentally conscious energy giant

Illustration 5 Share of energy sources in electricity generation RWE, 2018

Illustration 6 Lidl circulatory bottle

Illustration 7 Lidl: "responsibly packaged" logo

List of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1 Introduction

For reasons of better readability, the male form of speech is representative of all genders throughout the text.

1.1 Problem statement

Extreme weather events, natural disasters, water crises, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem collapses, and man-made environmental disasters – six of the top ten risks identified as eminent by the World Economic Forum 2019 and to which our world is exposed today are environmental problems (Myers and Whiting 2019). The world we live in faces great challenges and will not last forever if we continue as before. While in the past the finite resources available to us were handled carelessly, the image and understanding of today's society is turning away from the throwaway society of the past decades. In view of the imminent dangers of climate change and the scarcity of resources, an ever-evolving consumer awareness towards a more sustainable lifestyle is emerging. (Wenzel, Kirig and Rauch 2008, p. 9 f.). Sustainability is changing from a niche topic to a trend and is constantly increasing in consumers' list of priorities. Terms such as social and ecological responsibility are becoming increasingly important and are now more important than ever. With the awareness of consumers, the desire for sustainably and fairly produced products also increases. Trust in companies and products is declining, consumers are beginning to question, want to know where the products they consume come from, want to have a say as well as help shape it and demand sustainable innovations (Wenzel, Kirig and Rauch 2008, p. 11 f.). Lifestyle sustainability extends across all areas of life and has already reached almost all industries, because the trend today goes far beyond environmental protection alone. Fairly produced clothing, natural cosmetic products, the vegan trend, organic food, electric cars and energy-efficient household appliances are just a few examples of the importance of sustainability today and how strongly it is already integrated into our everyday lives.

In response to this change, the shift in demand and the increasing pressure from companies, the supply of environmentally friendly products and services continues to grow. Because the change is not only taking place on a social, but also on an economic and political level. The best indication of this is the results of the European elections on 26 May 2019. The BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN party, which is the symbol of a party demanding sustainability, won 20.5% of the German vote – an increase of almost 10% compared to the 2014 European elections (10.7%) (Federal Returning Officer 2019). The "Fridays for Future" movement, in which hundreds of thousands of people around the world, especially students, take to the streets and go on strike for the environment, also makes it clear that the topic is more topical today than ever and is finding more and more followers (Fridays for Future 2019). The market must respond to changing demand in order to continue to meet the new needs of consumers. In the future, the success of companies will depend on how they deal with the economic, social and ecological challenges – because sustainability is now one of the main components for being able to operate successfully on the market in the long term (Stehr and Struve 2017, p. V).

Thus, the so-called green marketing is becoming increasingly important. Because the communication of sustainability is just as important for the marketing of companies as sustainability itself. However, this trend also carries a risk – the risk of greenwashing. The question arises as to whether everything that is marketed as "green" and sustainable is really "green" and sustainable and which advertising actually delivers what it promises. With the trend of green marketing, black sheep are also creeping in, who use the sustainability communication of companies only to pursue image polishing without actually producing environmentally friendly or selling sustainable content (Staud 2009, p. 5). This fact makes it increasingly difficult for companies that seriously pursue their sustainability strategy to credibly convey that they are doing something good and it is not easy for them to win the trust of consumers. Because at a time when consumers are not only concerned about the quality and price of the products and services they consume, but are also interested in their impact on the environment during product life cycles, companies need to change production processes, logistics and marketing to continue to meet the changing needs of consumers (Nguyen and Nguyen 2016 , abstract).

1.2 Objective of this paper

Sustainability and the assumption of responsibility turn out to be current and important topics of today's society and will probably remain so in the future. Due to the high degree of topicality and the associated increasing importance of marketing measures and the sustainability communication of companies, the bachelor thesis deals with this topic. Nowadays, green marketing can be found in almost every large company – but does it offer companies the opportunity to survive in the market in the long term? The aim of the work is to explore the importance of green marketing in today's world in order to create an understanding of the current and future situation and to be able to give recommendations for action and orientation for companies. Furthermore, a distinction between green marketing and greenwashing is to be made and marketing measures are to be discussed and classified using the example of the food discounter Lidl.

1.3 Structure of the work and methodical approach

The paper follows an organized structure, which will be explained in the following. After the introduction to the topic, the chapter two the term sustainability is defined and classified in order to create a general understanding and to provide more detailed background information and thus make it easier to get started with the work. Furthermore, the so-called "three-pillar model" is examined in more detail, on which the concept of sustainability is based, and which includes the goals of sustainable development. Finally, the second chapter deals with the change in values of today's society.

The third chapter deals with green marketing. A general classification and definition of the term is followed by the integration of ecological aspects into the marketing mix and the question of whether green marketing can be a success factor for a company to survive on the market and remain competitive in the future.

In chapter four the topic of greenwashing is examined in more detail in order to be able to differentiate it from green marketing. After the classification and definition of the term, various possible methods and strategies are explained, which are then examined in more detail using a practical example. Finally, the chapter discusses the consequences and effects of greenwashing activities.

The chapter five takes a closer look at the sustainability communication and the green marketing activities of the food discounter Lidl on the basis of the listed theoretical foundations. Various marketing measures are examined and critically classified.

In the sixth and final chapter, taking into account the elementary criteria, possible recommendations for action for companies are given, which can be an approach for how companies can implement green marketing measures and sustainability in the future and a conclusion is drawn. In addition, recommendations for action are given for consumers with regard to the recognition and detection of greenwashing campaigns.

2 The concept of sustainability

Sustainability is widespread today and on everyone's lips. But what does the term really mean, what goals are pursued and what relevance does sustainability have for today's society? The following section of the thesis provides an overview of general background information, definitions of terms and already existing topic-relevant literature.

2.1 Definition and classification

A congruent and universally valid conception of the term sustainability is still not given today. In general usage, there are numerous different meanings and the term therefore meets with a rather vague understanding in society. However, there are some important approaches to discuss both the nature and origin, as well as the benefits of sustainability. The term sustainability finds its origin over 300 years ago, in the 18th century, in forestry. Carl von Carlowitz, Freiberg chief mining captain, demanded in his work Sylvicultura Oeconomica in 1713 "a clever way of forest management through a constant and sustainable use of the forest" (Hans Carl von Carlowitz/Joachim Hamberger (eds.) 2013, pp. 87, 105). As a result, forestry should only cut down so much in the forest so that the stands could regenerate naturally again. The understanding we have today of the term sustainability can be traced back to this demand for considerate management of the forest in order to secure resources in the long term. Sustainability has always been associated with a long-term view of the future in order to ensure consistent ecological and economic stability (Ekardt 2011, p. 37 f.). The best-known way of looking at the term today dates back to the 1980s and is defined in the Brundtland Commission report. This report, entitled "Our Common Future" was launched in 1987 by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, the so-called "Brundtland Commission". The essence of this report is the following view of the definition of sustainability, which is still valid today: "Sustainable development is development that satisfies the needs of the present without risking that future generations will not be able to meet their needs" (BMZ o.J.). With the publication of this report, the international debate on sustainability began and for the first time a model for sustainable development was constructed that is still valid today.

With the UN World Summit on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the mission statement for sustainable development has gained in importance both in politics and in society. The result of this World Summit was Agenda 21, which was a sustainable action plan and was signed by 178 nations. From this point on, the focus was no longer solely on the aspect of environmental protection, but also on the economic and social sectors. (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ), undated)

2.2 Dimensions and goals of sustainability

In the literature, sustainability is primarily operationalized by the "three-pillar model" (Prexl 2010, p. 42 f.). This model became established in the 1990s, but cannot be clearly attributed to an author, as it has developed over a period of time (Kleine 2009, p. 5). Accordingly, the three dimensions, or pillars of sustainable development, are: Ecology, economy and social issues. It represents the various entrepreneurial fields of action and implies the view that sustainable development can only be achieved through the simultaneous implementation of ecological, economic and social goals.

Accordingly, the three aspects are related to each other and form the foundation of a sustainable direction. In companies, the three areas can be defined as target fields of sustainable management (Balderjahn 2003, pp. 3, 9). When implementing the concept of sustainability, however, there are increasingly conflicting goals, which primarily arise between the competitiveness of a company, i.e. the economic dimension, and environmental protection, i.e. the ecological dimension. These conflicts make it difficult for companies to implement the concept of sustainability. According to Mathieu, however, the economic, ecological and social conflicts cannot be considered and managed individually and in isolation from each other, as they are interdependent. "For a successful three-dimensional sustainability, an attempt should therefore be made to defuse potential conflicts, to observe dependencies and to make greater use of target harmonies" (Mathieu 2002, p. 35 f.).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Illustration 1 Three-pillar model

(Source: Own presentation based on Spindler 2011, p. 13)

2.2.1 Ecological dimension of sustainability

The aim of ecological sustainability is to conserve and conserve natural resources and the environment through sustainable management. By reducing ecological burdens, resource consumption and pollutant emissions and reducing the supply and use of non-renewable energies and resources, it is to be ensured that eco-systems remain diverse and have the opportunity to regenerate (Prexl 2010, p. 42 f.). Successful sustainable and environmentally conscious marketing therefore implies a methodical reduction of environmental pollution and risks, which can be found at every stage in the product life cycle of a product (Balderjahn 2004, p. 9).

2.2.2 Social dimension of sustainability

The social dimension focuses on the social compatibility of a company. It includes the management of relationships with various stakeholders and social communities (Balderjahn 2004, p. 13). Companies see themselves as part of society and therefore want to take responsibility for it and take care of the effects of their economic activities. In order to have a positive impact on their own stakeholders, companies must take the initiative and both take and implement relevant measures. Some possible measures would be, for example, the establishment of stronger employee protection or the creation of social standards with regard to company working conditions in the company. Another field of action of this dimension of sustainable development is the support of social projects, which can also have a positive effect on the company (Balderjahn 2004, p. 9 f.).

2.2.3 Economic dimension of sustainability

The economic dimension aims to create competitive advantages for companies and to both maintain and expand economic performance. These goals can be achieved, for example, by realizing social and ecological needs and requirements. Furthermore, this dimension includes the potential of enterprises to contribute to the creation of wealth and jobs (Balderjahn 2004, p. 21).

2.3 Changing values in today's society

The fact that environmental awareness and sustainability are no longer a niche topic today and that more and more people are employed in society is also reflected in the results of the representative population survey "Environmental Awareness in Germany" conducted by the Federal Environment Ministry in 2018, which is published every second year together with the Federal Environment Agency.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Illustration 2 Environmental awareness in Germany 2018

(Source: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety/Federal Environment Agency (Ed.))


Excerpt out of 67 pages


Green Marketing vs. Greenwashing. Saving the world as a marketing strategy
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ISBN (eBook)
green, marketing, greenwashing, saving
Quote paper
Marie Schad (Author), 2020, Green Marketing vs. Greenwashing. Saving the world as a marketing strategy, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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