RFID Technology Effects on Green Marketing

RFID Effects Green Marketing

The impact on the ‘green marketing’ approach of U.S. printed media using RFID in order to retrieve accurate reading activity data.

Drastic climate changes and climate instability have had social, political, and behavioral repercussions in business practices since the dawn of commerce.

Recently, these changes and repercussions are attributable to the level of exponential growth many industries have had since their emergence until the present day.

In regards to this critical evaluation, specifically, this assessment will be focused on the US printed media industry and the application of Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) serving to aid marketers in determining critical factors influencing advertisement and ‘green marketing’ practices perception.

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Nonetheless, secondary key points such as productivity, customers’ behavior, and distribution practices are intrinsically related to the latter two main topics; therefore, to obviate these important sub-topics from the main critical analysis would be a mistake.

‘Green Marketing’ practices have been making sound pressure on US traditional marketing philosophies since the late 1970’s.

The application of these practices encompass the development of goods and/or services that adhere to general idea that environmentally friendly products, at any stage of its creation, would benefit both the society and the producer by lessening the negative impact on nature and gaining potential market share, respectively.

Nevertheless, the green movement suffered setbacks during the 1990’s due to the inefficiency of their products – which were not capable of meeting the same standards set by conventional products.

Another reason for failure is due to the so called “greenwash” campaigns (Grant 2007). These are practices where companies promote their products and/or services as being environmentally responsible but, in fact, have little or no positive effect on collaborating towards environmentally friendly results.

The following table depicts some simple strengths and weaknesses relating to green marketing practices:

Green Marketing
Strengths Weaknesses
Environmentally conscious Lack of credibility
Increase environmental issues’ awareness High levels of scrutiny
Drives sustainability Misconceptions and skepticism
Appeals to the market needs High capital investments
Differentiates from competition Many regulations and regulatory costs 
Adds value to the quality of life Difficulty on meeting set standards
Encourages innovation Difficulty on price reduction
Cost savings in the long run Reluctance to pay a premium
Enhance relationship with the market Long-term horizon to meet environmental and investments objectives

Nowadays, environmentally concerned campaigns are said to be reaching their tipping point once again.

Because of this, it is of great importance to avoid the major setbacks of the 1990’s and improve the market perception of these practices. John Grant could not say it better, “we need to make green alternatives seem normal and acceptable (as opposed to ‘greenwash’, the process of making normal stuff seem green)” (Grant 2007).

“We need to make green alternatives seem normal and acceptable (as opposed to ‘greenwash’, the process of making normal stuff seem green).”

-John Grant

This is when technology comes in. Innovative technological advances that were not viable in the 1980’s are now able to broaden the horizons of green marketing in ways that were not even imagined thirty years ago. For example, there are more efficient ways of recycling paper, manufacturing of vegetable inks, biofuels, and such.

A technological approach is more appealing to younger generations, and gives a visionary sense to the topic of green marketing rather than a backdated image, which is widely manifested by sceptics.

However, companies should bear in mind the need to reduce the carbon print of their whole production chain. It is not enough to have a product which performs environmentally friendly while the manufacturing supply chain continues to be disruptive.

One of many innovative alternatives is the use of Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID). The applications of RFID on green marketing approaches are immense, ranging from tracking practices to essential data gathering; serving as an aid to reduce commercial vehicle emission, facilitate wildlife monitoring, encouraging recycling and rightful waste disposal, conserving energy usage in buildings, and many more examples.

The following table shows a series of strengths and weaknesses about current RFID applications:

Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID)
Strengths Weaknesses
Multi-applications adaptability Privacy concerns
Data gathering aid Widespread public acceptance
Encourages and integrates innovation Highly regulated
Tracking aid Short range frequency
Customer behaviors detection Difficulty to recycle
Integrate currently disjointed tasks Expensive
Aids to decrease counterfeiting practices Difficulty on meeting hyped expectations
Aids tasks’ timeframe management Difficulty to standardized the data retrieving process
Competitive advantage

Recently, technological breakthroughs on nano-technology have had a major impact on RFID applications. These applications are being used by major print media publishing houses in order to enhance customers experience, increase accurate customer data gathering, lower productivity and logistics costs, and promote green marketing practices.

Amusement magazine is currently utilizing this technology in France. At the back of their magazines, an RFID chip is been placed. When this magazine is place on a RFID reader, connected to your computer at home, at the office, or at a public hotspot, the consumer is able to enjoy additional material from the magazine publisher.

Meanwhile, this practice also allows marketers to gather consumer data, such as the time, location, when the publication was opened or closed, the specific page that was exposed the most and what advertisements or material the page contained.

Embedding micro-chips, sensors and circuits to magazines, books, and newspapers, for example, enables the access to unprecedented data useful for market analysis (Mattlin et al. 2010).

The technology is not fully developed, but ideas and patents are already in place, and this is a major step towards the application of such technologies.

RFID technology serves as a major tool for a green marketing approach in the print media industry. Publishing houses can use RFID to track their suppliers’ resources and choose the ones that take serious steps towards sustainability.

It also enables marketers to accurately portray sales forecasts of the publications in specific regional markets, serving as a tool to reduce unneeded supply, hence, reducing productivity costs.

However, the application of this technology by print media clashes with the green marketing approach that many participants of the industry have already engaged. As small and unperceivable this technology may be, it has to overcome some recycling issues in order to produce adequate environmental results.

The adhesives, computer chips, pieces of metal form antennae and conductive inks affect the recycling process since it is not easy to completely isolate each component to then be re-used.

Along with this, the situation of manufacturing data gathering stations for private or public uses entails the dependency on continuing production and assets utilization.

For these reasons, print media marketers should be aware of new innovations and how the result of these innovations is perceived by the market they are pursuing.

Grant, J. (2007) The Green Marketing Manifesto. Chichester, UK . John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Mattlin, J. et al. (2010) United State Patent : 7740179B2 System and Method for RFID- Based Printed Media Reading Activity Data Acquisition and Analysis.
Poirier C. & McCollum, D. (2006) RFID Strategic Implementation and ROI: A Practical Roadmap to Success. USA, Charles C. & Duncan McCollum.

About Jaime Gordon

Jaime has a Bachelor of Science in International Business and Finance from the University of Tampa. He is currently completing a Masters of Science in International Management at the University of Worcester, UK. Jaime feels that honesty, perseverance, and dedication are the most important traits that describe himself.

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