Green Jobs in Marketing - dummies

By Carol L. McClelland

A truly eco-friendly product is about more than green features; environmentally sustainable factors encompass the product’s entire life cycle. If the company has a corporate social responsibility initiative, the marketing story may also include a description of the social impact of the product on the communities of the suppliers, producers, and end users. This is where an eco-conscious job-seeker with marketing skills can find opportunity in the green economy.

As a new green product or service makes its way to market, the marketing team must work out the best way to brand, package, describe, display, and advertise it. The key ingredient to the marketing in this scenario is describing to potential customers how green the product or service really is. This marketing conversation with the customer may include a description of how the product was produced, where the raw materials came from, how it was packaged and distributed, what can be done with the product at the end of its life, and how energy efficient it is.

Green marketing, also known as environmental or ecological marketing, has been evolving since the early 1980s with Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and the publication of Green Marketing by Jacquelyn Ottman (2004, BookSurge Publishing). More recently the push toward sustainable green products has raised the stakes on green marketing. Grabbing and keeping the customer’s attention and purchasing dollar has led some companies to stretch the truth or downright lie about the green characteristics of their products and services.

This so-called green-washing by some has put all green marketers under pressure to represent their products and services ethically and honestly. If you want to familiarize yourself with the issues underlying the term, green-washing, visit TerraChoice’s site and click on the Seven Sins of Greenwashing icon. Take some time to study the matrix in this article that describes four types of green-washing or the full report they are discussing by Business for Social Responsibility and Futerra Sustainability Communications.

At the same time, one of the biggest challenges facing this industry is the fact that no one is quite sure what constitutes a green product. With no agreed-upon standards, companies are left to their own devices to evaluate their products and determine the best way to communicate their green features. Although some are doing a better job than others, experts are searching for and debating a number of ways to create a consistent standard that is understood by businesses, the government, and consumers:

  • The Federal Trade Commission has guidelines for those making environmental claims about their products, packaging, and services. The guidelines include a number of case studies that illustrate and apply the guidelines to common terms, including biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable.

  • The Global Ecolabelling Network recommends a labeling system to assess the life cycle impact of a product or service by using rigorous, scientific standards established by an objective third party. Green Seal and EcoLogo Program are examples of programs that work with companies to ensure that their products and services pass muster.

  • Others, such as GreenBlue, believe that ecolabeling must be accompanied by transparency in reporting exactly how the product or service impacts the environment.

If you’d like to consider working in green marketing, here are some examples of potential jobs.

  • Market research: Market research analyst, market intelligence analyst, marketing analyst, data analytics manager, internet marketing analyst, media research analyst

  • Marketing: Agency account planner, agency account coordinator, agency account executive, marketing director, marketing manager, brand manager, product manager, consumer products manager, e-mail marketing specialist, event planner, direct marketing manager, media buyer, media planner, online marketing manager, online promotions manager, online media buyer, online media planner, search engine marketer, event manager

  • Communications: Communications editor, communications manager, communications specialist, online publicist, public relations account coordinator, media relations manager, Web content editor, Web content manager

  • Creative: Animation designer, creative director, art director, copywriter, graphic designer, illustrator, producer, production artist, production manager, user interface designer, multimedia designer, Web designer, instructional designer