Changing Horizons: FTC's Updated Green Guides Alter The Eco Marketing Landscape
What Do You Need To Know About Marketing Your Green Products?
The new FTC Green Guides make it clear that there are shades of "green." Yet they have also made it clear that unsubstantiated claims must stop and have instituted financial penalties for those who don't comply. The bottom line is that you must be able to prove what you say—proof that comes in the form of independent, third-party testing.
But beyond testing, true environmental stewardship comes from having the management practices in place that improve the efficiency of your business and/or the performance of the product. It's about strategies rather than labeling. Sourcing closer to market saves on fuel and emissions. Bigger orders reduce the number of overall shipments. Smarter packaging uses fewer raw materials and weighs less. And all of these save money.
While having to substantiate claims will certainly be viewed by some as a painful process, the result will be more relevant, targeted and credible marketing messages. We need a better vocabulary to accurately describe product attributes and the processes required in their manufacture. Once we can do this, the term "green" will be rendered irrelevant and insufficient, certainly for the customer who today is demanding "green" promotional product options.
There are consumers who have always been sensitive to environmental concerns, and their resolve to purchase products that align with their values continues to strengthen in light of Hurricane Sandy. As natural disasters grow in number and severity, this contingency will continue to build—and they are likely to seek assurances that their buying habits don't contribute to the environmental degradation. The companies that take the time to do their homework so they understand the complexity of the issue and subsequently make the investment to manufacture responsibly will reap the rewards in customer loyalty—and profits.