Business owners are starting to realize that customers don’t just want competitively-priced products. They also want products and services that are sustainable and ethical. With that in mind, many businesses are now considering the environment when sourcing product materials, creating their products, and marketing them to customers.
However, not everyone is convinced that companies are always as sustainable and Earth-focused as they lead consumers to believe. Your business might be greenwashing your customers if you do some of the following things:
Use Suggestive Imagery
Many companies can make impactful changes through sustainable business practices, but some decide to just offer the illusion that they’ve made impactful changes by using suggestive imagery on product packaging.
For example, a box of washing powder with green plant imagery on the front can look far more ‘natural’ and gentler on the environment than a box with standard colors and branding information. The manufacturer doesn’t have to offer any information about a product being more environmentally-friendly, but consumers might purchase that product incorrectly, believing that it is.
Make Exaggerated and Inflated Statements
When you see a product with a label stating, ‘Now with 50% more recycled materials!’ you might assume that the company has come up with an incredible strategy for protecting the environment and giving consumers what they want.
However, a 50% increase in recycled materials might still be a small number in the scheme of things. For example, if a product only previously had 1% recycled materials, it would only now have 1.5%. It’s still a 50% increase, but not as dramatic as the labeling might suggest.
When consumers see words on packaging like ‘non-toxic,’ ‘recyclable,’ and ‘biodegradable,’ they might be more inclined to purchase that product over one that doesn’t use the same phrases. However, those buzzwords don’t necessarily mean those products are better.
These words can be incredibly vague and might not have any real depth. For example, product packaging might be recyclable but only in specific places, and it might only be biodegradable in a particular environment.
Don’t Have Proof
It’s easy to say that a product is organic, eco-friendly, or made with sustainably-sourced materials, and you might know that to be true. However, you might be greenwashing your customers if you can’t provide any proof. Bold claims like sustainability, organic, and eco-friendly generally need to be backed up with studies, evidence, and certification.
Being Selective With Information
Many companies genuinely believe they’re doing the right thing by advertising and promoting the good things they do for the environment. However, they might also be selectively focusing on their positive contributions while actively avoiding their negative ones.
For example, a bank might pride itself on its many green investment opportunities while still actively supporting some of the highest contributing companies to global warming, such as fossil fuel companies. You don’t have to share everything about your company with consumers, but it’s also important not to deceive them.
More customers than ever want to see businesses become more sustainable. Our planet’s future might just depend on it. If you’re currently engaging in these greenwashing techniques, now might be the right time to turn your attention to making genuine, positive changes.