The eco-friendly movement has continued to accelerate, and so has consumer interest in green products. But customers are also growing suspicious of companies “greenwashing” their products — using deceptive marketing techniques to falsely convey an environmentally-responsible image.
Many companies with legitimately eco-friendly products and practices want to advertise them, but they’re not sure how to do it in a way that appears genuine to consumers. Don’t let the fear of negative perception keep you from implementing eco-friendly practices. If you’re looking to take part in the green movement without being accused of greenwashing, try these marketing tips recommended by Ad Age Collective experts.
1. Showcase the research you’ve done.
There’s no stronger argument in your favor than clear facts and research. It’s helpful to create a dedicated page informing your audience about how your business is being part of the green movement in an authentic way. Create links on the front page or from relevant posts to the research page to help users find it and learn more. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
2. Make it a part of your purpose.
To engender trust with consumers, brands in the “green” space must look at their business holistically. If you are providing organic, sustainable food, but using plastic packaging from a decade ago, you are doing more harm than good. And “being green” needs to be a part of your purpose and who the company is, not just what you market. Think about the message, your consumer and customer and your employees. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm
3. Support big, hard policy change.
We have been culpable in shifting blame from corporate polluters to individuals’ actions since 1971’s “Crying Indian” anti-litter spot. We often still simply make folks feel better about their role in the cycle of consumption that drives profit. But soon, brands will need us to demonstrate the need for big, hard policy change with that same emotional punch. Life, and profits, will depend on it. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)
4. Be honest about how your products are created.
With the environment and sustainability trending in the global spotlight, companies are partaking in “greenwashing,” making false claims to appear eco-friendly and strike a chord with consumers. Companies must remain honest when articulating how their products are created and their environmental impact. Don’t trend-hunt. A false attempt to highlight a commitment to a trend can quickly become a PR nightmare. – Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience
5. Educate your greenwashing competitors.
Since we are all in this together and fakers hurt us all, it is now the responsibility of leaders — particularly those with resources — to not only lift green standards, but also treat it not as a competitive advantage, but as a team effort. Rather than accuse, leaders can offer their hand to educate and rehabilitate even competitors who are trying to “greenwash” so there is no longer an excuse. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive
6. Balance eco-friendliness and consumer value.
There needs to be a balance between green, eco-friendly products and those that truly provide value to consumers. If a green product is too expensive and not truly green, it devalues the entire market. The winning brand will be a truly green product that’s both good for the environment and more valuable to the consumer. Word-of-mouth and marketing will show this, as product is always king. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
7. If it isn’t tied to your product or service, don’t do it.
Consumers are skeptical of “greenwashing,” and with good reason. Companies are desperate to prove they are eco-friendly, but it often rings hollow to consumers. People are looking for brands they can trust, so make sure that your efforts are physically tied to the product you are selling. When you change your model entirely to become greener, that will earn consumer trust on a far deeper level. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap