Greenwashing or ‘Greengaging’?

Organisations are determined to market themselves as environmentally friendly and draw interest into their organisation by addressing politically relevant topics. However with this comes the rise of greenwashing, where organisations spend more time and money on marketing themselves as ‘green’ than actually doing so, essentially misleading and over exaggerating their practices to customers.

For some this can be difficult to identify and as such many organisations can get away with this unethical behaviour, on the other hand as consumers become more aware of sustainability practices and how such bad practices can have an impact on the environment, the more aware they are of these malpractices. As such, many Millennials and Gen Z consumers are drawn to products and services that act on sustainability and are more willing to research into companies before purchasing.

Although for the majority of consumers it is becoming harder than ever to know when to trust a brand and their green claims, what can we do to change this distrust? 

If we as marketers are to use green claims within marketing campaigns, we need to do so ethically and in the correct format using targeted green marketing techniques. This will allow for campaigns to be more engaging (without misleading the consumer!) and it will improve brand image within the sustainability sphere.

To make matters worse, it is even more difficult for consumers to identify when a brand is greenwashing – so how can we tell if a brand’s green claims are the truth? The CMA (competition and markets authority) are aiming to crack down on businesses that are suspected of greenwashing with the introduction of the new green claims code and they suggest these tips to help brands along their journey of green marketing. 

In particular, they should:

  • Avoid using broad, general terms, such as ‘green’, ‘eco’ and ‘sustainable’. These claims will be considered to apply to the whole life cycle of the product and must be substantiated with evidence.
  • Avoid conflating the environmental goals of the business with specific product claims.
  • Clearly state any caveats that apply to product claims.
  • Consider implicit claims being made by a product, for example through the use of images and colours on packaging.
  • Avoid claiming as environmental benefits any features or benefits that are necessary standard features or legal requirements of that product or service type.

To read more about the CMA’s Green Claims code check out there website by following this link Green claims code: making environmental claims