If you are already competitive in terms of price, quality and performance, and you
have a good start on you environmental excellence journey, you should be proud of
your accomplishments and tell the world about them - and enhance your brand image
and market share as well.
After all, if you read the trade journals or just surf the web, you will see articles
Now you are energized. Why should your organization not take advantage of your environmental
improvement efforts. But then you stumble on sites like:
So why the contradiction?
The reasons may vary from questions that can have different meaning to different
people to "spin" given to the results of a survey by individuals with a specific
agenda. For example, the question "Has the economic downturn affect your purchases
of green products?" yielded the results shown in the graphic:
An environmental agenda could interpret this by saying that the economic downturn
has not affected 86% of the purchases of green products whereas the opposing agenda
could say that the number was only 19%. And both do not provide any measure of the
impact these have on the amount of purchases made. In addition to this is the question
of what consumers say versus what they do. For example, Enviromedia
reports that while 87 percent of people surveyed say they recycle, the Environmental
Protection Agency reports just 33 percent of our waste is diverted from landfills.
That is, many people feel they are expected to provide the "ecological" answer.
But, probably the primary reason is that people do not trust advertising alone:
This is further exacerbated by the fact that there are some 82 ecolabels of various
types in use in North America alone.
So what should you do?
There are several guidelines that you can follow to build the consumers' confidence
in your products (See
FTC, Part 260 -- Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing
Claims, 15 U.S.C. §§ 41-58), which include:
- Be Honest
"Avoid the tendency to exaggerate or overstate your claims. "Marketers should avoid
implications of significant environmental benefits if the benefit is in fact negligible."
"Claims that include a comparative statement should be presented in a manner that
makes the basis for the comparison sufficiently clear to avoid consumer deception.
In addition, the advertiser should be able to substantiate the comparison."
- Be Clear Make claims that can be understood by all consumers
The FTC traditionally has held "that in order to be effective, any qualifications
or disclosures should be sufficiently clear, prominent and understandable to prevent
deception. Clarity of language, relative type size and proximity to the claim being
qualified, and an absence of contrary claims that could undercut effectiveness,
will maximize the likelihood that the qualifications and disclosures are appropriately
clear and prominent."
- Be Precise Make specific claims that provide quantitative impacts
"An environmental marketing claim should be presented in a way that makes clear
whether the environmental attribute or benefit being asserted refers to the product,
the product's packaging, a service or to a portion or component of the product,
package or service."
- Be relevant Make claims that have a positive impact on the
There are always more environmental improvements that can be made to a product or
service, and they are but one piece of a much larger environmental journey for society.
An environmental claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful
for consumers seeking environmentally preferable products. 'CFC-free' is a common
example, since it is a frequent claim despite the fact that CFCs are banned by law.
- Be able to Substantiate all Claims Provide additional information
for consumers in a place where they want it.
FTC requires the "[i]n addition, any party making an express or implied claim that
presents an objective assertion about the environmental attribute of a product,
package or service must, at the time the claim is made, possess and rely upon a
reasonable basis substantiating the claim. A reasonable basis consists of competent
and reliable evidence. In the context of environmental marketing claims, such substantiation
will often require competent and reliable scientific evidence, defined as tests,
analyses, research, studies or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals
in the relevant area, conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by persons
qualified to do so, using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield
accurate and reliable results. Further guidance on the reasonable basis standard
is set forth in the Commission's 1983 Policy Statement on the Advertising Substantiation
Doctrine. 49 Fed. Reg. 30999 (1984)."
This additional information should be readily available to the consumers.
You can start your green marketing campaign by ensuring your green claims are credible.
One way to do this by having your product certified that it was produced in an environmentally
sound manner by one of the eco-label certifying organizations. The purpose of these
labels is to helpconsumers make educated choices.
- Green Seal sets product
standards and awards its label to a wide variety of products
European Union Eco-Label Program covers a wide range of products and services,
with further groups being continuously added.
- Canada's EcoLogo Label program
certifies products from the United States and Canada in over 120 categories
- Germany's Blue
Angel program provides ecolabeling for a wide variety products
Nordic Swan program provides ecolabeling in over 66 product categories
- Japan's EcoMark Program
provides product certification and ecolabeling for several product types
- Taiwan's Green Mark and Energy Label programs provide certification and ecolabeling
for green and energy efficient products include corporate responsibility report
and hierarchy corp image triple bl