Buy green or buy less?

How consumers respond to green marketing and green demarketing campaigns

On February 2, 2023, Anna Fenko and Asja Šerić presented their research on green marketing and green demarketing at the International Etmaal 2023 Conference at the University of Twente, Netherlands.

“Don’t buy this jacket” was the slogan of Patagonia’s Black Friday campaign in 2011. Patagonia placed this ad in The New York Times on the biggest shopping day of the year. With this campaign, Patagonia asked consumers to consider the environmental impact of their consumption practices on the planet. Patagonia was the first company that successfully used the “green demarketing” strategy.

In recent years, we have witnessed a surge in sustainable environmental marketing practices, such as green marketing, which promotes the consumption of sustainable brands and products manufactured in an environmentally friendly way (“buy green”). Unlike the green marketing strategy, the demarketing strategy encourages consumers to buy less in order to reduce their environmental impact. 

The goal of this study was to compare the effect of a green marketing and a green demarketing on consumer responses to a fashion brand and to look at the effect of brand environmental reputation.

The results show that positive environmental reputation may change consumer attitudes towards the fashion brand. Therefore, fashion brands will benefit from obtaining an independent environmental rating. Presenting this rating in their marketing communications can increase consumers’ attitudes towards the brand. 

Green demarketing can be considered as a viable marketing strategy by sustainable fashion brands. Not only may green demarketing lower the negative impact of the fashion industry on the environment, but it may also attract consumers who value sustainability and increase the sustainable brand image.

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