Over recent years there has been a significant rise in consumers adopting more sustainable lifestyle choices. The COVID-19 pandemic has played a huge role in this attitude shift, with numerous studies detailing the changes in consumer purchasing decisions. For example, global consultancy firm Deloitte conducted research in April 2021, which concluded that a third of consumers now look for environmentally conscious brands.
With heightened consumer demand for sustainable and eco-friendly products, businesses have had no choice but to incorporate sustainability into their business strategy. However, to be looked upon as a sustainable brand in the eyes of consumers, companies often try and convey the false impression that they are environmentally sound through a form of deceptive marketing known as Greenwashing.
What is Greenwashing?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, Greenwashing is “disinformation disseminated by an organisation so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.” This tactic is often used to mislead consumers into thinking they are helping the planet by choosing a product or service.
A recent news story involving greenwashing accusations affected smoothie brand Innocent Drinks, owned by global soft drinks powerhouse Coca-Cola. Plastic pollution activists were not thrilled with Innocent’s most recent TV advert, which claims that their drinks can help the environment, with campaigners arguing that it is misleading to suggest that purchasing single-use plastic can save the planet.
How can we identify ‘Greenwashing’?
A common issue noted with Greenwashing is that companies who use this tactic are often driven by profit, rather than striving towards becoming more eco-conscious. With the climate crisis being as topical as it is at the moment, companies are being accused of cheating consumers who are making an effort to incorporate more sustainable practices into their daily lives to benefit the planet. As sustainability grows in importance when making purchasing decisions, consumers need to differentiate between genuine companies and those that may be misleading.
Here are a few ways of identifying if a company may be guilty of Greenwashing:
Check for verification
With any environmental claim made by a brand, there will always be some form of verification or testing carried out by a third party that supports the claim. This verification will always be made visible by the company, so it’s important to identify this if you are unsure.
Watch out for ‘Green’ buzzwords
Companies will often use buzzwords such as ‘sustainable’ or ‘organic’ within their messaging in an attempt to show they care for the environment. However, a lot of the time there is little meaning behind the phrase. Organisations who are sincere will always have evidence to back up any claims, and will often showcase this to support them.
Don’t be fooled by images
It’s easy to believe that a company is environmentally conscious when they use images that suggest this. Images of green trees, plants and the world we live in are great to support sustainable messaging. However, this does not automatically deem a company as ‘sustainable’, so it’s important to always research the business and ensure they are true to their word.
Green credentials have become increasingly important for organisations, and we have a collective responsibility to boost these ethically in order to benefit consumers, brands and our planet.Check out our previous blog on Greenwashing!