Exporting in an eco-friendly way: Does it pay off?

Aug 29, 2013, 11:07 ET from American Marketing Association

CHICAGO, Aug. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Intensifying government pressures and strict environmental regulations, along with growing public concern about the natural environment, are compelling reasons for firms to take into account green issues when designing marketing strategies in international markets. The factors that drive the deployment of eco-friendly marketing strategies in foreign market operations and the conditions under which these strategies can pay-off thus constitute important managerial considerations.

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In the last few decades, researchers have repeatedly stressed the instrumental role that certain organizational resources and capabilities play in building a competitive advantage position, which in turn leads to enhanced performance outcomes. There is also growing evidence in the literature which suggests that sensitivity to environmental issues in business and marketing strategies can enhance the firm's competitive edge and its customer and financial results. Despite these, there is limited understanding on how green aspects can influence international strategic thinking and performance. A recent study conducted among exporters of manufactured goods provides new insights into these issues.

The analysis, which appears in the third issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of International Marketing, underlines the critical role of deploying adequate financial, physical, and experiential resources in the implementation of eco-friendly export marketing strategies. The study also stresses the importance of certain organizational capabilities, namely shared vision among employees about environmental issues, close coordination among enterprise functions, and high technological sensitivity/response, in providing continuous support to green strategies. Most importantly, the implementation of such strategies was found to have a positive effect on the firm's export performance, and this was particularly true when operating in foreign markets marked by strong environmental public concern and fierce competition.

As Leonidou, Katsikeas, Fotiades and Christodoulides put it, "…the astute export manager should realize that one new venue to enhance the firm's export performance is by taking advantage of environmental-based business opportunities in foreign markets, through the right blend of organizational resources and capabilities. This is more imperative for exporters belonging to industries that are harmful to the natural environment and operating in markets with strict environmental regulations. However, since sustainable marketing practices take time to develop, showing a proactive approach and continuous commitment to green initiatives is crucial for achieving long-term international success."

Although eco-friendly export engagement and commitment often requires considerable investments in infrastructure, technologies, and processes, there are many green-related opportunities in the international marketplace that, if properly exploited through the implementation of sound marketing strategies, can yield significant financial benefits.    

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SOURCE American Marketing Association