How auto aftermarket and remanufacturing tells the green story

By Gary McCoy, PR Director, The Marx Group

Everybody talks about being “green” in their business practices and consumers often say they want to buy “green” products. But the disparity between talk and action is often wide.

A McKinsey Quarterly Study from March 2008 showed that 87 percent of consumers are concerned about the environment and the social impact of the products they buy. However, only 33 percent of consumers indicated they were ready to buy green products or have already done so.

One of the greenest segments of the automotive aftermarket is the remanufacturing industry. For remanufacturers, green is an 80-year old message and one that industry trade associations are good at promoting. Through educational flyers, the Automotive Parts Remanufacturing Association (APRA) emphasizes the number of American “green” jobs and the environmental benefits derived from remanufacturing.

The green messages are: 1) Remanufacturing Creates Jobs – Good Jobs! and 2) Remanufacturing is the Solution to Energy and Material Conservation.

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) campaign tells the aftermarket green story. Go to www.aftermarket.org/green to find out more and to download materials.

Embracing Green

Even if your company is not a remanufacturer, “green” is something you should embrace and can offer a huge selling point when telling your story. A look at all your business practices may uncover environmental strengths within your company, such as the use of recycled parts or renewable resources.

Keep in mind that the “green” message can be used to attract socially-conscious young people who are looking for jobs that support the green cause. It can also create goodwill with customers and build awareness of your products.

In addition, green messaging can help your business “walk its talk” and should be integrated throughout your business. Make sure you identify the audience that cares about green and take the time to focus on long-term opportunities.

One Company’s Story

A&A Midwest began in 1949 in Chicago and through their cores division they’ve supplied remanufacturers with engines, transmissions and internal engine and transmission parts for over 60 years. They are also a full-service recycler in Las Vegas handling metals, plastic, cardboard, and electronics. They’ve developed  informational flyers to educate consumers on metal recycling, metal theft and remanufacturing.

Here’s what A&A Midwest has learned:

  1. Make yourself available to the media for green stories. As a recycler and a supplier to remanufacturers, they have demonstrated to the media that they have the expertise to speak authoritatively on green practices.
  2. Publicize your green, sustainable practices. There are green practices the media are not aware of. For three years, A&A Midwest served as the recycling center for Clark County residents who wanted to exchange their polluting gas lawn mower for a new zero-emission, cordless electric model at a greatly reduced price. The program was extremely successful with over 3,000 mowers turned in for recycling. News releases touting A&A Midwest’s involvement in the program were published, helping spotlight the company as a green corporate citizen within the Las Vegas area.
  3. Talk about your educational efforts. As mentioned earlier, the company developed educational materials that are available to customers, prospects and for download on their website.

Green is Not Magic

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to green marketing. Make sure yours is unique and specific because your target audience will ask: “What’s in it for me, today?”

In his book, “The Truth about Green Business,” Gil Friend says, “Going for the green—and even getting there—doesn’t guarantee business success. You still need great products and services, impeccable execution, and stellar customer communications—all the elements of which a great business depends.”

To help you go green, The Marx Group invites you to download a green marketing worksheet at: http://www.themarxgrp.com/GreenMarketingHandout.pdf.

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