Conspicuous Consumption to Conscientious Consumption

We are seeing an amazing shift in consumer behavior. More and more Americans care about their carbon footprint rather than their ego. Instead of wanting to buy a Hummer, more people want a Prius. Many good marketers have seen this trend and have implemented “green” marketing. But is being “green” enough to differentiate your company from the competition?

There is definitely an opportunity for this strategy as a study found that 64% of people surveyed couldn’t name a “green” brand. I don’t believe most companies pursue a sustainable strategy to increase sales but to adhere to their company values. Built to Last by Jim Collins found that most enduring companies pursued a strong set of values first and foremost, and then thought about the money. If firms seek to be responsible they will be rewarded with praise and conscientious consumption. If firms try to praise themselves as green to gain a competitive advantage people won’t believe it.

HP will take back any brand of computer and recycle it. SC Johnson built a power plant that runs off natural gas from a land fill. Goldman Sachs invested $1.5 billion in cellulosic ethanol, wind and solar (Fortune). Most people probably don’t know about these company’s good acts, but they probably feel like they are doing something substantial and this builds a better brand.