This time our lectures were about what external factors influence consumer behavior and how we should choose our marketing strategies for sustainable products. Marketing can be a power tool to communicate key features of the product for consumers. Successful communication can change habits. However, if there is an error in the information what is being promoted, the effect might be counter productive or undermine the reliability of the product. Avoiding so called bona fide green washing appears to be very crucial in risk management when a product is sold with ecological or social attributes.
A good example of this was Frank’s opening slide. At the bottom it says, “Do not print. Save a tree. Go digital”. For quite many of us the world is black and white and less paper means less fallen trees. First, it seems to make sense. Cutting trees is bad; reading stuff from your electrical gadget is good. But if you really look at the issue, you might find a different answer. The ecological footprint of paper is comprised in the beginning of its lifecycle. Thereafter emissions are close to zero. And when paper is recycled, avoided emissions compensate the initial amount of emissions. Emission breakdown of digital devices is totally different. Of course mining raw materials, building the device and so on creates ecological footprint but the most significant footprint comes during the usage of the device. Every newspaper I read from my laptop uses energy that is produced somewhere, in my case in coal power plant in Helsinki. If I download and open Frank’s lecture slides over and over gain before the exam, at some point it becomes much greener to print the slides on A4 depending on time I spend on my laptop. Then, the right answer is “it depends”. Thus, quite many sustainability issues related to behavior are relative and there is no single right answer. It becomes very difficult for a consumer to make right choices. Offering right facts is the first step before right choices can be made. Sometimes the weaker alternative is stronger. It’s only a matter of your own behavior.