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‘Green’ and How it Relates to Small Business

The term “green” can be infused with various meanings and applied to a wide array of tasks in today’s lexicon, but it almost always refers to environmental considerations.

Clean energy, for example, is one of the most pressing green concerns for businesses, governments and populations alike, as such alternative sources of power serve to lessen the impact on the environment while also promoting energy independence.

Those pressures were even enough to spike global clean energy investment by 30 percent last year, according to Pew Environment Group, providing a key financial incentive for green entrepreneurs incorporating a business.

However, “green” can also apply to energy efficiency, environmental aid programs and even the emerging green marketing sector. According to market research firm Global Industry Analysts, the worldwide “green marketing market” is expected to reach $3.5 trillion by 2017.

“Green marketing initiatives are finding [a] high level of acceptance among businesses with relatively tight marketing budgets,” wrote GIA in a statement. “Internet is one of the most popular media for carrying out marketing of green messages, with print, television, mobile and direct mail methods emerging as other popular approaches.”

More recently, it appears that this marketing strategy is finding a home in the financial services industry, albeit with a caveat.

A survey released this week by research company Mintel found 72 percent of respondents “feel good about working with a financial services firm that invests in companies that are looking at eco-solutions.” However, the report also points out that as companies increasingly tout their green initiatives, consumers are becoming more and more skeptical of their intentions – whether they are pure PR stunts or reflections of genuine environmental concern.”

“Overcoming this cynicism is the key to a successful green marketing campaign that really stands out,” said Susan Menke, vice president and behavioral economist at Mintel. “But the danger lies in promoting green messaging in a way that only feeds this cynicism. In order for a green campaign to be effective, the consumer must feel like the company is truly sincere.”

Accordingly, many consumers would like to see companies, particularly those in the financial sector, not only vocalize their support for green initiatives but also take a stake in such endeavors.

According to the survey, 45 percent of respondents claimed that they would like to see finance companies provide monetary or investment incentives to businesses that are creating new clean energy technologies or promoting innovative environmental policies and practices.