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This is not advice. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute or convey advice per se. The information contained in these articles is for guidance only and should not be relied upon without obtaining professional advice having regard to your direct circumstances.


Green can be Gold

We’ve all heard about climate change and it’s impact on the planet… but have you actually done anything about it?

Like many, I started making changes in my personal life a while back. I use the dryer less and turn off the television, stereo, PCs, modem and mobile charger at the power point each night. I’ve even been composting my green waste and veggie scraps for the past year and try to ride my bike rather than take the car on short trips.

But what about changes at work? Recently I realised I needed to think much more about how my business operations impact the planet – and how to reduce that impact. I was thinking it was an ethical imperative, but now I realise it’s also a business and marketing imperative.

As business owners we’re so wrapped up in the day to day mania of running the company, managing the cash flow, generating new business and keeping our customers happy, that we barely have headspace to worry about how green we are. Minimising your company’s impact on the environment doesn’t have to be a negative though, it can actually be the boost your business needs. Here’s why ‘greening’ your business can create genuine opportunity for you to deliver real results to your bottom line and differentiate you from your competitors:

1. Growth – In today’s economic climate many businesses need to chase profits in ways not reliant on increased sales. Reducing the resources you use to conduct your business will give you this profit growth through reduction in costs. Something as simple as turning the lights off when you leave, or conducting more of your business over the phone or via the internet – rather than driving, cabbing or taking a plane. Choosing simpler packaging for your products reduces costs, and buying items for your office second-hand also will benefit your bottom line.

2. Innovation – Changes in consumer behavior and growing awareness of climate change provide many businesses with opportunities to create products that are attractive to their eco-conscious customers. The growth and interest in organic products is already a prime example. 

Back in 2007 L.E.K. Consulting Australia released the findings of their Carbon Monitor Report, entitled Carbon and the Consumer; Are Consumers Ready to Pay? The report showed that 22 per cent of respondents said that they would change their buying behavior in a significant way by sacrificing convenience or paying a premium for products or services with a smaller carbon footprint. With a further 63 per cent willing to switch to more carbon-friendly products or services that are equal in quality and price that means a total of 85 per cent would change their purchasing behavior, if armed with reliable information.

On this basis (and this report was tabled two years ago) it’s an absolute no-brainer to look at how you can be greener.

3. Attract new customers – The report above proves that green really is the new black. Any marketer knows that people generally want to be “Good”, or at least not feel guilty about their purchase. Mums buy breakfast cereals and snack products that they believe will contribute to a sustainable future for the next generation.

By being able to demonstrate to customers that by buying your product they are supporting a business that’s doing the right thing by the environment, you will attract customers and gain an edge over your competitors.

I’ve seen this in my own business. I’ve recently started going through the process of obtaining Greenbiz Check’s ( practical and affordable Green Business Certification process. By talking about it on my web site I’ve attracted enquiries from other green-minded businesses as a direct result.

4. Build Loyalty – For years I’ve loved products by a certain beauty brand. They used no fuss marketing and their products were produced without fancy packaging. Recently they bought out a new product aimed at teenagers that had lots of unnecessary disposable packaging. The wasteful packaging totally put me off and I’ve decided not to buy any more of their products. What’s worse for them is I’ve shared my opinions with others.

This brand has just lost a loyal customer by making a product with no consideration for the environment at all – which went against my perceptions of what their brand was about. You can actually build and retain loyalty through demonstrating that you care about the environment and are a responsible and ethical organisation.

5. Get onboard -  The environmentally -  conscious consumer used to be a microscopic segment of the community, but reports on the stunning low growth of green, fair trade and ethically made products show that change is coming faster than a climate change induced category five cyclone. You need to start making changes to your business now so your current customers continue to support you, and so you can win customers from your less eco-friendly competitors.

As the late founder of The Body Shop Anita Roddick said, if you think you’re too small to be effective, then you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito!   

Michelle Gamble
My Business, June 2009


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