Facing the backlash: Green marketing and strategic reorientation in the 1990s

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This paper discusses green marketing strategies in the context faced by businesses in the middle to late 1990s. The literature suggests that this context has been characterized by a consumer backlash against green marketing, which has been created by perceived problems in the areas of green product performance and green claims in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Evidence is reported from a qualitative study which investigated corporate perceptions of this context and revealed the strategic orientations which have subsequently been employed by green marketers. The findings suggest that managers do indeed perceive the backlash to have occurred and to have been caused by the factors posited. It is argued that these understandings have assumed the role of myths in shaping organizational perceptions of the green marketing context. Four subsequent strategic routes are identified in the paper, namely passive greening, muted greening, niche greening and collaborative greening. These are described in some detail and managers’ justifications for them are presented. It is shown that each of these strategies might be appropriate for particular situations in the context of the backlash and some of the limitations of the green marketing literature in this respect are highlighted. Finally, some discussion is provided regarding the appropriateness of these strategies in the future and potential avenues for further research are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-296
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Strategic Marketing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000


  • Consumer backlash
  • Green marketing
  • Greening strategies
  • Marketing strategy
  • Strategic reorientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Marketing


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