Tesla’s Green Marketing & Environmental Communication

The modern world can be characterized by the focus on innovation, technology, and sustainability. People are becoming more concerned about their environmental footprint, which shapes their behavior, as well as buying habits. These trends influence companies, the operations, and strategies they employ to communicate with existing and potential customers (Leonidou et al., 2012).

Green marketing has become a part of the present-day reality, and organizations utilize this approach to win and maintain their competitive advantage. Companies also take up the role of the “green expert” educating customers regarding how they can “construe eco-responsible lives” using their products (Kadirov & Varey, 2013, p. 267). Tesla is one of the companies utilizing such methods since it places emphasis on its green image and tries to affect people’s behaviors through diverse channels. This paper focuses on the company’s communications related to Tesla cars and their effects on people’s behaviors and attitudes towards ecological issues.

Why Tesla

Tesla, Inc. was established in 2003 and offers electric vehicles and “infinitely scalable clean energy generation and storage products” (Tesla, 2020, para. 1). The company’s mission is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” (Tesla, 2019, p. 3). The organization concentrates on the development of sustainable technology that can influence the existing trends.

For instance, one of the major peculiarities of the business that is included in their slogans associated with Tesla cars is their commitment to transforming society and changing consumer habits. Tesla aims at showing people that sustainability is achievable and should become everyone’s priority (Tesla, 2020). It is emphasized that electric cars are considerably more sustainable as they are not powered by the energy of fossil fuels. The company also highlights the importance of improving the production process and making it more sustainable, so the environmental input of Tesla’s facilities is decreasing. This commitment is one of the primary peculiarities of the organization that stands out against other automotive producers.

The focus of this paper is on Tesla due to the pioneering role it played in the market of sustainable vehicles. The company sends powerful messages that have a significant impact on people’s perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors (Long et al., 2019). The idea of moving to more sustainable patterns in the automotive industry was not new in the late 2000s when Tesla’s first battery electric vehicle (BEV) was introduced. Companies made their first attempts to move in that direction in the 1990s when GM produced its environmentally friendly Chevrolet S-10 Electric (Voigt et al., 2016). At that, in the 1990s, the society was hardly ready for considerable shifts in purchasing habits, and the infrastructure was also insufficient or rather non-existent. Batteries had a low capacity, and recharging points were rare, if any, which made the use of all-electric cars inconvenient and even impossible. Moreover, the company was hardly committed to investing hard in promotional incentives, which led to minimal attention to the new electric vehicle and no big changes in consumers’ purchasing habits.

Nevertheless, people’s concerns regarding environmental issues were accumulating, and sustainability became an important strategy to utilize in order to remain competitive. Car manufactures started responding to the changing attitudes by introducing hybrid cars that were more sustainable compared to conventional fuel-powered vehicles (Voigt et al., 2016). The messages of these manufacturers remained concentrated on sustainability and innovation that steadily unwound to bring people to a better place.

The illustrations of this approach are the commercials of the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrids that were made in 2007 (Idbi, 2007; Yidan, 2008). The articulated messages are clear as the companies stress that their cars improve the natural world and use innovation as a path to the sustainable future of humankind. Notably, Honda placed a significant emphasis on consumers’ behavior and their impact on the environment, as well as simple ways to change the world for the better. The focus is on nature and changes with almost no other characteristics of the car.

At the same time, Tesla’s first car commercial highlights specific features, such as speed, capacity, and design. Tesla’s commercial was also produced in 2008, but its message is rather different (MOTOR1, 2008). The commercial consists of a range of shots featuring Tesla in diverse situations, usually going very fast, with short phrases; and “no compromises” is the central slogan (MOTOR1, 2008).

Tesla’s commercial is dynamic and straightforward as they reveal their commitment to innovation and sustainability. It is noteworthy that the car is driving in urban and suburban areas, which differs the commercial from other companies’ communications that tend to display images of their cars driving country roads with beautiful landscapes. The focus on nature and ecosystems draws a line between urban life and being environmentally friendly. Tesla removes these barriers suggesting that an electric vehicle is the best option irrespective of the setting.

Tesla’s commercial can seem rather an assertive kind of communication, but it is also very effective. The company manages to sell thousands of cars and transform the way customers see the market, as well as other markets and industries (Long et al., 2019). Tesla did not pay attention to the constraints and barriers that existed but tried to improve the infrastructure and the capacity of batteries. This emphasis on no compromises makes the company an interesting phenomenon that needs detailed analysis. Therefore, Tesla’s, as compared to other manufacturersers’, communications have been chosen to illustrate the way companies and brands can shape people’s attitudes related to sustainability and consumer behavior.

Environmental Sentiments and Factors Affecting Consumer Behavior

As mentioned above, public opinion started changing considerably in the 1990s when people began to pay more attention to environmental issues and started undertaking exact steps to address the most urgent problems. Klein (2011) states that the debate regarding sustainability is associated with economic and political issues, and diverse groups pursue their own interests when discussing ecology-related topics. However, an increasing number of people have become more environmentally friendly since then.

For instance, the number of people concerned about the natural world and changing their behaviors accordingly has reached up to a third of the US population (Heo & Muralidharan, 2019). It has also been found that there is a certain level of inconsistency between customers’ beliefs concerning the things to be done to protect or improve the environment and their actual choices and behaviors. This inconsistency is referred to as “the green gap” and has attracted researchers’ attention (Barrios et al., 2017). Several factors affect people’s choices, including but not confined to policies, environmental knowledge, and organizations’ communications.

Governments articulate their commitment to the reduction of the use of non-sustainable energy, so various regulations and incentives aimed at the promotion of green technologies and behaviors are introduced (Corner & Randall, 2011). Notably, governments provide funds to organizations promoting sustainable patterns and raising people’s awareness on the matter. Educational establishments in western countries (irrespective of the source of their funding) include ecological sustainability topics in their curricula.

Although governmental support is beneficial for the development of more sustainable practices, the role of the government in coordinating and controlling markets should be minimal (Kalverkamp & Raabe, 2018). This balance will lead to sustainable growth and innovation as companies respond to new demands in diverse ways, which leads to greener approaches and behaviors.

Companies and organizations have acknowledged the changing paradigm and the call for more sustainable products and services, which led to their shift towards more environmentally friendly products. Organizations invest heavily in marketing research to identify exact customer needs and attitudes to satisfy the demand and win a competitive advantage (Chabowski et al., 2011).

They employ different communication channels and media to reach wide audiences. Organizations often focus on raising people’s awareness of environmental issues and possible strategies people can use to address these problems (Corner & Randall, 2011). It has been acknowledged that this effort contributes to the transformation of consumers’ habits and behaviors, as well as their attitudes to products and services (Leonidou et al., 2012; Long et al., 2019). Tesla is one of the companies that have a substantial influence on this process.

Tesla Responding to the Sentiments

Tesla is associated with innovation and progress as its founder Elon Musk is involved in diverse projects that change the way people think about various phenomena and concepts. Tesla employs several communication channels to reach their customers, including their official website, social media, exhibitions, as well as various events (Falát & Holubčík, 2017). It is noteworthy that these communications are enhanced by the news that appears in print and on television. The company manages to maintain the public’s attention and interest by introducing new products, generating ideas, and suggesting solutions.

As far as the company’s official website is concerned, Tesla delivers its major messages related to environmental aspects in its annual impact reports (Tesla, 2019). In the 2019 report, it is stressed that CO2 emission reduction is impossible without “both energy generation and consumption” that relates mainly to companies’ input (Tesla, 2019, p. 4). The company also mentions the need to change lifestyles and people’s habits to reach the established objectives and create truly sustainable societies.

Kadirov and Varey (2013) claim that corporations tend to use diverse communication channels to deliver messages that “natural-ize green practice” (p. 273). In simple terms, large companies refer to ecological sustainability as a longstanding practice that has become a norm globally, or at least, in the western world. Tesla’s communication can serve as an illustration of this point because the company’s most recent impact report includes facts, assumptions, and appeals associated with enhanced environmental sustainability. The report can be seen as an embodiment of the company’s primary goal, which is to make others be greener and more responsible.

Tesla, as a company, and Elon Musk, as its leader, use every chance to promote BEVs and their electric cars. They spread the news via their official website and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Tesla launches a great variety of promotional events and participates (and sponsors) numerous projects as well. Word of mouth is another effective communication strategy that is working well with Tesla (Falát & Holubčík, 2017). The company also communicates with its customers through a network of showrooms and dealers.

One of the brightest examples of the channels the company uses to promote its cars was the launch of Falcon Heavy in 2018. The rocket carried red Tesla Roadster on board, and the car started its trip in outer space, which was followed by millions of viewers who watched the launch online (The Telegraph, 2018). The event was highly publicized because it was a revolutionary launch implemented by a company rather than a governmental agency. The event was used to promote the electric car and show millions of people across the globe that the future was not that distant. The way the car was sent to space and the fact it was sent there are consistent with the overall vision and major messages articulated by Tesla.

The car is pushing the limits as the Roadster was the first vehicle to be in the open space. No one could even think of such a promotional event, which made it viral and effective. An increasing number of customers started discussing the car, as well as the BEV manufacturing industry.

One of the major peculiarities of Tesla’s communication is its being future-oriented and its constant push of the limits. One of the first videos featuring Tesla cars was characterized by these two concepts (MOTOR1, 2008). The commercial drew the audience’s attention to the ability of Tesla cars to perform as fuel-powered, be as comfortable and convenient as these conventional cars, but remain sustainable. No compromising became the slogan that appeared in the commercial and remained largely unchanged until now.

The same message persists in the set of commercials created quite recently (Car FanBoys, 2018). All the commercials in the set entice consumers in following Tesla in its drive for the future. The concept of space and science is present in the two of the five commercials under consideration, which is consistent with the concept of pushing the limits and becoming bold transformers of current trends. The other two “sell” the idea of the future that is still bright and based on the American way of life, but, at the same time, is ready for major transformations. The commercial featuring the family contains a powerful message calling Tesla “the car that may lead other cars in no longer taking from the Earth, but accepting from the sun” (Car FanBoys, 2018). The company’s vision is encompassed in this short phrase as Tesla has aimed at leading other car manufactures and changing the way people think.

People’s Attitudes Towards Tesla and BEVs

It is possible to note that the company is rather successful in pursuing its objective as it shapes people’s mindsets and behaviors. First, the company manages to achieve its major economic goals and increase its value and profits (Falát & Holubčík, 2017). The two most effective communication channels in reaching this aim are viral internet messages and company’s stores. By attracting more customers, Tesla influences purchasing behaviors, as well as people’s attitudes towards sustainable products.

The company sells its cars and sells the idea of sustainability and responsible consumption. Tesla, with its luxury electric vehicle, was initially a brand that targeted the high-end market (Thomas & Maine, 2019). Gradually the car manufacturer moved to other segments making luxury available for more people as the prices went down, but the idea of living the future remained untouched. An increasing number of people became the owners of Tesla cars, which contributed substantially to the promotion of all-electric vehicles and sustainable behaviors.

As mentioned above, Tesla benefits from word of mouth and pays a lot of attention to this marketing strategy. People become the users of their products and entice others to follow. Viral messages on the Internet, television, and in print ensure proper coverage as millions of people discuss various topics related to Tesla, Elon Musk, Space X, and ecological issues. Heo and Muralidharan (2019) found that Millennials’ ecology-related knowledge affects their environmental concerns, which facilitates the discussion of the corresponding topics.

The public’s attention to the issues of the natural world is considerable, and Tesla contributes to this process significantly. At the same time, this interest does not directly correlate with exact behaviors of the mentioned cohort. Being environmentally conscious does not necessarily translate into becoming completely ecofriendly.

Nevertheless, another study shows that even the lack of immediate influence in the short-run perspective does not signify the absence of the relationship between environmental concerns and green behaviors. Kadirov and Varey (2013) identify a paradox related to green practices that encompass the need to be less environmentally conscious to start behaving more sustainable. The authors state that the process of meaning co-creation between corporations and customers is characterized by this paradox.

Organizations tend to choose greenwashing as their core strategy, but this approach soon changes to a more sustainable behavior due to the pressure inflicted by or the attention of the public (Kadirov & Varey, 2013). Likewise, customers may be concerned with the nature but pay less attention to their actual behavior contributing to the current situation. Within a certain period of time, people become more conscious of their unsustainable behavior and change their habits and lifestyles to some extent.

Therefore, the publicity related to Tesla electric cars is beneficial for the enhancement of this paradox that eventually leads to improvements. Although the changes can be rather gradual and slow, they still take place and transform the existing consumption paradigms. According to the company’s impact report, the production of their cars is also becoming more sustainable each year (Tesla, 2019). The company’s facilities worldwide, as well as their partners, use sustainable production practices to minimize their environmental input, which also makes customers’ think about their own behaviors and lifestyles.

People discuss numerous ecological issues and identify the gaps between their own lifestyles and the strategies they can use to make the world less polluted. Tesla is the car that is not “taking from the Earth,” and this slogan is steadily becoming the goal of an increasing number of people. Tesla customers spread the word regarding the use of an electric car that is becoming more comfortable and enjoyable.

The brand is pushing the limits making no difference related to speed or comfort but making a difference in terms of sustainability. Word of mouth has a tremendous impact on customer’s views as people are becoming more willing to buy BEVs. Even if these are not Tesla cars (as people can find their products less affordable compared to other brands), the company still achieves the set goals of transforming the automotive market.


In conclusion, it is important to state that Tesla’s communication strategies have a significant impact on consumers’ preferences and behaviors. The company articulates its vision and manages to make other companies and people share it by utilizing diverse channels. Tesla uses the Internet and social media, its own network of stores, and word of mouth as their primary and most effective marketing channels. The company’s leader Elon Musk is the visionary man who contributes substantially to the publicity related to Tesla cars. The involvement of Musk in diverse projects and the associated promotional campaigns and events make the messages regarding Tesla and BEV market viral. Tesla Roadster heading to Mars, Tesla cars becoming more affordable, and numerous messages articulated by Elon Musk and Tesla employees draw people’s attention to environmental issues.

Although the direct link between companies’ communications and individuals’ becoming more ecofriendly has not been identified, indirect relationships are apparent. The intensification of discussions and inspirational messages make people aware of their own conduct and their environmental input. Environmental knowledge and concerns gradually affect people’s lifestyles and purchasing preferences. People are becoming more reasonable and willing to make a difference, which, in its turn, influences companies that try to create or maintain an image of a responsible corporate citizen. Tesla is a company that introduces innovative ideas and approaches that shape the way people think and behave. Clearly, the impact is not straightforward or clearly visible, but the societies are transforming steadily due to the changing mindsets and visions that have been radiated by such leaders as Elon Musk and such companies Tesla, Inc.


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