Tag Archives: greenwashing

American consumers punish greenwashing practices, a survey says

Nearly three-quarters of consumers (71%) will stop buying a product if they feel misled by environmental claims”

Two days ago an ECOFFEE prospect tried to convince us that sustainability is just a marketing word, and that consumers are not able to understand whether the retail product/store is really sustainable or it is just greenwashing.
We have already dealt with this kind of prospect – and many became enthousiast ECOFFEE customers and sustainability advocates. Data and market analysis are the only way to convince the sustainability skeptical about the counter effects of greenwashing practices.

That day, we showed to our prospect the Cone Inc. Trend Tracker recent analysis about U.S consumers and their behaviour towards greenwashing practices, dated March 24 2011.

Results are very interesting – and very motivating for those of us who believe in real sustainable business practices.
When consumers discover a claim to be misleading, they will take the following actions:

 

Three mock cleaning products were showed to consumers, who were asked to “purchase” the one they believed to be the most environmentally responsible. They were also required to indicate what they think the certification, claim or image on each package represents.
The results are as follow:

Another very interesting survey finding concerns the inaccurate interpretation by U.S. consumers when it comes to words such as “green” and “environmental friendly”. More than two-in-five Americans (41%) erroneously believe these terms mean a product has a positive (i.e., beneficial) impact on the environment. Only 29 percent understand that these terms more accurately describe products with less environmental impact than previous versions or competing products.
Last but not least, 59% say it is only acceptable for marketers to use general environmental claims when they are backed up with additional detail and explanation:
-23% say vague environmental claims should never be used.
-79% want detailed information readily accessible on product packaging.
-75% wish companies would do a better job helping them understand the environmental terms they use.

It is not necessary to add other comments to the above survey results, but if you are interested to know more, you can download the whole survey linking to the Cone Inc. website.

Green labels: are EU consumers confused about them?

It all started with an article about green packaging, where there was a sentence regarding the the Green Guides (US Federal Trade Commission): "65 percent of Americans would prefer just one seal for green products over the hundreds that are now causing confusion. They note that it is increasingly hard to determine if a product is "truly green" or not based on available information. They are presently overwhelmed with the 350 product certifications that currently exist".

In Europe, consumers for sure know about Ecolabel and EnergyStar and…what else? I have made a very quick search on the web about the online resources available to consumers willing to understand a little bit more about "green labels". I did not find anything that is both comprehensive and easy to understand – the best resource being this PDF which is only related to UK. I think that as long as there is so much confusion about labelling, product and process certification, together with a lack of communication, consumers will have a hard time in understanding the real value of sustainable/green products and greenwashing will still be consumers first word associated to sustainability. 

I think that it would be of great interest for retail companies too to contribute to a sort of global database of green seals /certifications/labels in order to better communicate with consumers. Would you, as a product manufacturer, contribute?