I studied Business and Marketing in Edinburgh at Napier University. As part of my course I completed a dissertation and research proposal on green marketing. It also covers the key themes of corporate social responsibility (CSR), consumer behaviour and tourism in Scotland.

I love the debate that this dissertation causes me to have in my own head. It has two seemingly conflicting ideals; Marketing that which encourages consumers to consume and the concept of being green and that consuming comes at a cost. So in a simple example, attracting people to visit the Scottish mountains, surely means more boots eroding mountain pathways?

Re-reading the story regarding the tomb of Tutankhamun, put the debate fresh in my mind again, so thought I’d post the abstract here and put the dissertation on Slideshare.

Abstract

Tourism is the most competitive industry in the world. (according to the Word Trade Organisation, 2009) For Scotland, tourism is a vital source of income for the Scottish economy, and a healthy and strong tourism industry is considered essential for the country’s future (VisitScotland, 2007). New destinations are continually emerging, making the tourism market extremely competitive. There has also been a development in the social thinking of ethical purchasing and responsible consumption over the last decade (Green and Ethical Consumers Report, 2007) raising the issue of sustainable tourism (Wheeler, 1995).

This dissertation addresses the key perceptions of tourism consumers concerning ethical purchasing and responsible consuming so that it may be used by tourism organisations to; firstly, gain insight into ethical consumers, and furthermore, instigate behavioural changes through effective ‘green’ social marketing (Cohen, 2001). In relation to these aims a conceptual framework (Miles & Huberman, 1994) was developed covering six key areas: 1) Development of green thinking (Peattie, 2008); 2) Sustainable tourism (Wheeler, 1995; )3) Corporate Social Responsibility (Crane & Matten, 2006); 4) Services Marketing (Ryan, 1991), 5) Green Marketing (Wasik, 1996) and 6) Relationship Marketing (Gordon, 1991).

Characteristics of green marketing

Green marketing as a concept involves: Corporate social responsibility, innovation and company ethos. For example, it can be used as a tool – those companies that promote recycling are attempting to practice as a sustainable company.

Sadly not all green marketing is genuine. John Grant’s 2008 book coined the phrase ‘green washing’ referring to the balance of truth in an organisations marketing and ethics and the confusion that exists to this day between green marketing and corporate social responsibility. Effectively ‘being seen to be green’.

Put simply, there are no defined characteristics of green marketing, nor standards to be met to be classed as marketing activity that is ‘green’. However, green marketing is certainly “in”.

Green marketing in tourism: research findings

My market research for the research proposal found that 97% of consumers wouldn’t describe themselves as an ethical consumer of tourism. With one respondant only tying tourism and being green to transport:

The characteristics of an ethical tourism consumer is someone who finds the greenest way to get from A to B.

Read the full document below.