Monday, December 3, 2012
This post is from Elizabeth Reed, Traffic Director and Interactive Project Manager at McKee Wallwork & Company. Over the last 13 years she’s coordinated the agency’s production of some of the best integrated marketing projects in the industry. She got a head start from her 5th grade teacher Mrs. Wooden, when assigned to create an ad wherein she developed a campaign for the Heinz brand featuring Raquel Welch as the spokesperson. Genius.
Advertising Age recently published an article regarding the recent findings of GfK’s consumer purchasing Green Gauge Survey. In a nutshell, key indicators demonstrated a drop in consumers’ willingness to pay more for green products as compared to a 2008 survey. Environmental concerns now have an ever-increasing profile, so why would consumers become less likely to invest in green products?
I have a theory. Over the last decade, the market has become saturated with products claiming to be ‘natural,’ ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable.’ In green marketing, as in all marketing, there are opportunists out to make money, preying upon the public conscience without regard to honesty or value to the consumer. Once bitten, twice shy consumers with good intentions have become wary of “green-washing”. And so, here we are as a society, in an uphill battle in our efforts to be more humble and less demanding of the planet.
Companies with eco-products based on good science and those with no legitimate claim to eco-friendliness alike have failed to thrive in a market glutted with broad, nebulous and often false claims to being green. The challenge faced by consumers who seek genuinely green products is the same as those in most other purchasing opportunities these days: finding honest products that are worthy of trust and inspire loyalty.
But there’s hope. Truth-in-advertising is evolving into truth-in-integrated-marketing, and that can generate powerful results in educating consumers and achieving change. The increasing opportunities via social media channels alone are a real blessing for providing consumers more in-depth information and as a viable way to combat green-washing. Augmenting this capability is the updated Green Guide published by the Federal Trade Commission, which provides ammunition for legitimate green brands. Green marketing guidelines include the expectation that companies be able to back up their eco-friendly claims or suffer the scrutiny of the FTC—under the bright lights of social media. This represents a real leg-up for honest green products.
Public opinion favors eco-friendly products, but consumers want to know that voting with their dollars is making a real difference. Green brands must take advantage of as many channels as possible in an integrated effort to get their information out to consumers. Plastering “Green” on labels doesn’t cut it anymore; educating consumers through transparent integrated marketing efforts is the key to making a difference.