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Green marketing has been all the rage, at least until now. However, under the pressure of a continuing bad economy, no one seems sure whether “going green” may be showing signs of wilting. Everyone acknowledges that in virtually every product category, the price of “going green” is usually steeper than the alternative. And, with the recession putting the squeeze on consumer spending, the question is: should we continue pushing “environmentally correct” products and the “going green” message?

According to a study by the American Marketing Association and Fleishman-Hillard reported in eMarketer Daily, companies are still investing in green and telling their customers about it. “At a time when the economy requires everyone to stay focused on the essentials, it’s noteworthy that businesses are putting sustainability programs into that must-do column,” said Nancy Costopulos of the AMA.

But behind the outward bravado, there’s apparent concern. When asked if consumers would pay more for green products now, 49 percent disagreed, and only 40 percent agreed. Further, the marketers’ optimism was tempered when more than one-half indicated they do not expect to increase any green marketing. In fact, the survey showed that even the most popular green sustainability programs, like recycling and electric energy efficiency, are being embraced by only a minority of businesses, 36 percent and 20 percent, respectively. 

Certainly the economic crunch has driven tighter spending across the board. As consumers continue to make tough choices, they will spend less on products that don’t deliver a rational benefit, according to Nielsen’s research analysts. So, “going green” will be fueled more by cost-cutting than planet-saving intentions. Families on tighter budgets will be less likely to pay extra for environmentally-sustainable “green” products, but they will still improve the environment as a by-product of cost-cutting strategies.

For example, we can expect consumers to continue saving money on gas by combining errands (result: lower car emissions). Similarly, consumers will purchase less non-essential goods (result: produce less waste). Manufacturers will also incorporate more sustainable manufacturing techniques to save on costs rather than the planet. For example, by using more efficient product packaging, they’ll also be good to the environment.

Fortunately, for marine dealers, green marketing continues to be both appealing and easily sustainable. For example, our engine technology is so improved these days that we should be pointing out its green impact. Moreover, we have a steadily growing number of Clean Marinas nationwide attesting to our claim of being a green business. Then, there’s the host of biodegradable products on our store shelves that are green products and should be strongly promoted as such, and the list goes on.

For boating, at least, “going green” and telling our customers about it remains a solid marketing approach to a customer base that, by its nature, is very receptive and has the financial resources to respond to our continuing green message.

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