How Misleading Green Marketing is Hurting Ethical Shopping

We are seeing a competitive shift in the marketplace today as more ethical brands are emerging out of the woodwork, declaring their purpose to the conscious consumer, all in favour of planet over profit. It’s a beautiful thing to witness, and it comes from a pure place of passion and respect for the planet all its inhabitants. But, How is Misleading Green Marketing Hurting Ethical Shopping?

an image of a forest with the words GREEN WASHING on it

In the green space, it’s not unusual to find that eco-friendly products or services typically cost more to the paying customer. But ethical shoppers are remarkable, mindful beings that can be swayed to spend more if they see the value in where their hard-earned money is going. In fact, a recent report by Business of Fashion and McKinsey found that 60% of millennials are willing to spend more on sustainable brands.

a flat lay of a bag, shoes and dress

The trouble comes when consumers can’t quickly find or understand, how that extra cost translates into green value. Slogging through cryptic charts, buried reports, and vague promises, quickly takes all of the fun (and follow through) out of ethical shopping. Now, who wants that?

Despite how honest the intentions of green business, they only have 7 seconds to share the evidence of their impact with a consumer. Anything longer or more complicated and you’ll see abandoned shopping carts and high bounce rates.

In my first article on The Eco Hub, I implored eco brands to explain to their audience why they should pay more for their products. The impact must be easily understood and show tangible and immediate benefits through specific, relatable examples.  For example, it’s not enough to say, “This is Mary and she made your dress.”

As a conscious consumer, I want to be assured that Mary is adequately compensated for that garment, and better yet, I want to know if her wage satisfies her cost of living. Does making this dress mean that she can access health care? Send her kids to school? Access clean water?

Let me sum this up in a simple takeaway: Impact should always be tangible and never simply suggestive.

In other words…

  1. Always be explicit. Name the ways you are measuring impact and then give us the numbers. Are you reducing water? How much? How often? Where?
  2. Offer comparisons. Are you doing better than an industry norm? Show us the norm compared to your success. Have you improved over time? Show us your progress.
  3. Use relatable measurements. Sharing the electricity you’ve saved in kilowatt-hours means almost nothing to the average consumer. Give us that impact in a measurement we interact with daily like the number of lightbulbs saved or hours of household electricity reduced.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it, pretending that the photo of a smiling happy woman in traditional dress is an adequate expression of impact simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

The most effective way you can close the say-do gap is by sharing impact data.

Related Post: Who Made My Clothes? 10 Tips On How To Be An Ethical Shopper

Become a master at tracking your impact and show concrete numbers that motivate immediate action. Utilize impact calculators and infographics next to product descriptions, promote attainable targets, and challenge collective action. In this fast-paced, competitive online market, it’s time to ditch your long-winded sales pitch, and get visual, interactive and on-brand with your impact marketing strategy.

This article was written by By Akhil Sivanandan, co-founder of Green Story.

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