Consumers browned off by greenwashing brand ads

BPGreta Thunberg and Donald Trump may be doing battle over the effects of global warming but brand owners’ response to the crisis, which has seen them boast about their green credentials in advertising and marketing activity, is leaving most consumers decidedly browned off.

In response to growing concerns that many brands are simply “greenwashing” their campaigns, conducted a survey to find out what consumers think; it was completed by 3,446 participants.

The study reveals that when it comes to advertising, honesty – and transparency – are the best policy. Most consumers understand terms such as biodegradable (74% approval rating), recycled (63%), recyclable (44%), carbon-neutral (44%), sustainable (44%) and organic (37%) and say these words encourage them to purchase brands.

However, an influx of new green buzzwords and phrases is having the opposite effect by discouraging purchase. Some 96% of those surveyed had not got a clue what Low-VOC means, while other phrases such as net zero (48%), carbon negative (26%) and clean (22%) did not fare much better.

Overall, the vast majority (83%) of consumers feel misled by green and sustainable buzzwords in retail advertising; even more (90%) think retailers need to be more transparent about how green their stock is.

Meanwhile over half (55%) said they would challenge retailers on their sustainability if they were unsure on their policy.

When asked “which of the following do you think is key in making shopping greener?” Just over two-fifths (44%) said companies which recycle and/or reuse most of what they create in the production process; a third (33%) cited the use of environmentally efficient packaging (no plastic); and one in six (15%) said green shipping methods (local pick up).

One final note, however; over three-quarters (76%) of those surveyed think they need more education about what is and what is not sustainable. No doubt Greta thinks the same about Donald.

In December, environmental group ClientEarth called for BP to pull its latest global ad campaign (pictured), amid claims it is creating a “misleading impression” that the energy giant is moving towards renewables. The group insists BP is just putting “up a shiny green facade for the public”.

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