Avoid Greenwashing: 4 Tips for Marketing without Making Deceptive Environmental ClaimsLet the Product Speak for Itself Let the benefits of the product show the public that it’s environmentally friendly. …Be Transparent Often a company’s brand image is affected by not only what it says about its products and services,but more so what it does not say about it. …Communicate Effectively …Be Consistent in Your Reports and Claims …
What is greenwashing and how can businesses avoid it?
When this lack of care concerns our environment, we find businesses guilty of what is termed greenwashing. That is, businesses work to make a good green impression, rather than making an actual green change. At Green Business Bureau, we want to help businesses rebuild consumer trust through honest sustainability communications and marketing.
What is greenwashing and how can you spot it?
The simple answer is that greenwashing is a clever, if unethical, marketing tactic where a company presents itself as sustainable without actually implementing effective sustainability practices. This is done to cash in on the growing sustainably-minded consumer body. The concept of greenwashing is nothing new.
What is misguided greenwash and how to avoid it?
Misguided greenwash includes sweeping generalizations, using terms such as natural, eco, or environmentally friendly with no data to back these claims up. With a revised communication strategy, more accurate, data-driven, and focused marketing can be achieved for effective environmental communication.
What are the most common greenwashing tactics?
Vague claims are one of the most common greenwashing tactics and are the enemy of truly sustainable fashion. Pretty pictures of natural paradises emblazoned with words like eco-friendly, green, or sustainably sourced look good but mean very little.
What is Greenwashing in Marketing?
Blue and white police tape reads "Climate Crime" – image credit: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona via Unsplash
How Does Greenwashing Affect the Consumer?
Brown paper shopping bag with green print that reads "Good Things Inside" – image credit: Erik Mclean via Unsplash
Other Sceptical Stakeholders
Man hold a newspaper with a photo of wind turbines & the headline "An Inconvenient Sequel: Are we listening yet?" – image credit: Priscilla du Preez via Unsplash
Greenwashing is in The Eye of The Beholder
Bare chested XR protestors carrying anti-fast fashion placards – image credit: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona via Unsplash
How to Avoid Greenwashing in Your Marketing Efforts
We’ve established that greenwashing means different things to different stakeholders. This is also true for business leaders.
Corporate greenwash is on the rise
A 2020 research project led by the Centre for Innovation Management Research (CIMR) at the Birkbeck University of London, investigated the behavior of large-capital companies with respect to Environmental, Social, and Governance ( ESG ).
Understanding the different types of corporate greenwash
Corporate greenwash can’t always be perceived in black-and-white. It takes many forms and has a range of impacts. It’s best to think about greenwash as a continuum, with different degrees of severity.
A business guide for Effective Environmental Communication
Stakeholders are becoming increasingly aware of corporate greenwash, meaning there’s mounting pressure on brands to communicate their green efforts accurately. Although we want a stringent critique on green claims, there’s the danger that this critique is scaring organizations to not say anything at all. This phenomenon is termed greenhushing.
Interpretation and substantiation of environmental marketing claims
Marketers must not deceive to influence consumer buying decisions. To determine whether an advertisement is deceptive, marketers must identify all expressed and implied claims and ensure these are supported with sufficient evidence. Gathering sufficient evidence requires tests, analyses, and research.
The main principle for effective environmental communication is transparency
At Green Business Bureau, we want to help brands provide stakeholders with the transparency they deserve. GBB’s EcoAssemment and EcoPlanner give an online assessment of a brand’s current sustainable initiatives and goals.
How to develop an ESG strategy?
When developing your organization’s ESG marketing strategy, don’t overlook the importance of creating a mission statement that will guide sustainable endeavors. Consider your company’s values, goals, and vision and communicate those through intentional word choices you can back up with consistent data and reporting. By implementing standardized, transparent reporting and consistent communication, companies can build trust with investors as well as external and internal stakeholders and, ultimately, ensure the longevity and success of the company.
What is greenwashing in finance?
The core definition of greenwashing is when firms and funds share misleading claims about their products or ESG credentials. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of ESG investments, many companies are simply paying lip service to ESG factors through token gestures.
How to avoid negatives?
Avoid making general claims: Don’t make generic statements such as “organic” if it isn’t certified organic.
What is greenwashing in marketing?
Greenwashing is the practice of marketing an organization’s products, activities, or policies as serious about ESG when in reality, they aren’t. Or a company marketing positive environmental outcomes that are exaggerated or even completely false.
Why are investors incorporating ESG data into their decision-making processes?
However, investors are increasingly incorporating ESG data into their decision-making processes to gain a broad understanding of the companies in which they invest. This need for meaningful ESG data and clear information on sustainable practices is forcing companies to better demonstrate their outcomes.
What are the green guidelines?
In 2012, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created “Green Guides”, voluntary guidelines designed to help marketers avoid making misleading or unsubstantiated claims about their environmental practices. Here are a few examples the guides use to demonstrate this idea: 1 A plastic package containing a new shower curtain is labeled “recyclable.” It is not clear whether the package or the shower curtain is recyclable. In either case, the label is deceptive if any part of the package or its contents, other than minor components, cannot be recycled. 2 An area rug is labeled “50% more recycled content than before,” but the manufacturer only increased the recycled content from 2% to 3%. Although technically true, the message conveys the false impression that the rug contains a sizeable amount of recycled fiber. 3 A trash bag is labeled “recyclable.” However, trash bags are not usually separated from other trash at the landfill or incinerator, so they are highly unlikely to be used again for any purpose. The claim is deceptive since it asserts an environmental benefit where no meaningful benefit exists.
Is ESG reporting required?
Currently, ESG reporting is not a regulatory requirement. Reporting is voluntary and often aspirational, yet companies provide these reports to satisfy a growing demand for ESG information. As more companies issue ESG reports, disclosure is expanding from simple financial material to the inclusion of metrics and data that track sustainability and corporate social responsibility.