Friday, January 19, 2007

UK Retailers go Green: Cynical Marketing Ploy?

It seems that not a day can go by without one of the large UK retailers announcing that they are going green in some way or other. There is an element of following the crowd sprinkled with a little cynical marketing strategy.

Fundamentally, it could be argued that this is nothing more complicated than multinationals responding to the demands of the consumer. These arguably paltry green offerings will, I am sure they have calculated, result in higher not lower profits and some additional "green brownie points" with consumers.

However, as is often the case, any move in a green direction from retailers with such enormous clout and market power can only be good for the environment. If it comes at the cost of the manipulation of the average consumer then so bit it.

Some of the marketing techniques used via their "green hooks" are ingenious. There are many blog posts on this topic but this latest Reuters post gives a decent summary of recent developments.

Tesco Pledges to Take "Green" Message to the Masses
LONDON - Britain's Tesco pledged to spread an environmentally friendly message to its millions of customers and to set an example by spending over 500 million pounds (US$987 million), cutting prices on energy-efficient products a reducing pollution.

Leahy's comments are the latest "green" initiative from a major British retailer, as the industry comes under pressure from the government to do more to combat pollution and seeks to win over increasingly environmentally-conscious shoppers.

Marks & Spencer said on Monday it would spend 200 million pounds over five years to make sure its packaging and clothing will be biodegradable or compostable and that none of its waste will be dumped in landfill sites.

One of the main thrusts of the Tesco initiative appears to be the halving of the cost of an energy efficient light bulb. We have to start somewhere.

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