Too often ‘going green’ has become in some cases more of a marketing ploy than anything substantive and consumers quickly see through this, causing a backlash.
This year’s AAPEX/SEMA show featured something called a “Green Zone” where attendees could see a range of products that service providers could sell to consumers to make their cars more environmentally friendly. As well, there were a range of products to help the service provider sell itself as a ‘green’ operation, right on up to a range of environmentally-friendly aftermarket parts.
The idea behind this zone was to tell people that the aftermarket was environmentally friendly and service providers have an ever-growing number of solutions to help them tap into the green buying trend amongst consumers. Certainly the first part is true, that the service provider industry is environmentally friendly compared to some other industries. Many service providers today run clean and efficient shops, and take extraordinary care in the handling and disposal of potentially environmentally harmful waste and products, for example.
However, as I as toured the zone and had a closer look at the products being shown, I came away with the impression that many were green in name only. Sometimes, there were products that were already pretty green to begin with, had been for years in fact, but now were given a green moniker and were being sold as if they were something new. Other had dubious green qualities and there were a few I had trouble actually pinpointing what exactly made them green.
While concern for the environment is a something to be encouraged, too often going green has become more of a marketing ploy than anything substantive and consumers quickly see through this, causing a backlash. The reason the term ‘green’ is becoming somewhat meaningless is because too often what looks green on closer examination often comes with some higher, if often unintended, environmental cost somewhere else; or the savings to the environment are not as great as once thought.
The problem for the aftermarket is that this growing skepticism amongst consumers towards the sudden rush to green could have an unfortunate impact on some service providers and aftermarket suppliers of technologies. As I mentioned, the aftermarket already has many excellent and environmentally friendly products and services, and many service providers are already green. It does not help the industry to label things green when they are not; or to use the term too loosely. If people begin to think the green label is nothing more than a marketing ploy with no substance then all the hard work this industry has done in developing technologies and business practices that are truly environmentally safe and profitable could be derailed. And that would be a shame as this industry really does have much to offer in regards to environmentalism.