If you pay attention to the media you’d be convinced the U.S. eco-consumer was a dominant market segment and most were hugging a tree every morning. Are the masses really committed to the earthly cause? Are they really doing their part to save the world, and should marketers embrace this sustainability movement with full force? A recent study by Havas Media uncovered a much smaller slice of green interest than the media suggests. Turns out after interviewing over 11,000 consumers in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the United States, Americans are the least concerned about the issue.
The study also revealed this separation of attitudes into consumer eco levels:
o Eco-absorbed – 35% who are “very focused” on issues of climate change
o Eco-attentive – 43% care, engage in small to moderate activities of change
o Eco-apathetic – 22% -they recognize the concept of climate change, but share no responsibility.
Another interesting finding was most consumers don’t know what ’sustainability’ is. “It’s this huge buzz term, but it’s such a client term,” said Carol Fitzgerald, president of the market research firm. “So maybe there’s a disconnect with consumers.”
Most consumers lost in the leaves.
But they do know The Six Sins of Greenwashing, reports TerraChoice Environmental Marketing,
1. Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off: e.g., “Energy-efficient” electronics that contain hazardous materials.
2. Sin of No Proof: e.g., claiming to be “certified organic,” but with no verifiable certification.
3. Sin of Vagueness: e.g., Products claiming to be 100 percent natural when many naturally-occurring substances are hazardous, like arsenic and formaldehyde.
4. Sin of Irrelevance: e.g., Products claiming to be CFC-free, even though CFCs were banned 20 years ago.
5. Sin of Fibbing: e.g., Products falsely claiming to be certified by an internationally recognized environmental standard.
6. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils: e.g., Organic cigarettes or “environmentally friendly” pesticides.
We’d love to hear about what you’re seeing in your industry or in the marketplace. Share your stories of the truly good earth Samaritans and the guilty sinners too.
About the author: Karen Post, a.k.a. The Branding Diva® is an international authority on branding, marketing, and entrepreneurial matters. She is has been featured as a business expert in print publications; on TV, radio, and on Web channels. Karen authored the best-selling book Brain Tattoos, Creating Unique Brands That Stick in your Customers’ Minds and she is co-founder and CEO of Oddpodz.com, an idea engine for creative professionals and business. Her work has benefited large and small organizations in the United States and around the world.