Nature Landscape: Land Formation, originally uploaded by photo.imagina.

Obviously, there’s a lot of talk about “green”.  More than ever, products and services are touting their eco-consciousness, foods are “organic” or “natural” and companies are staking claims that they support “sustainability”.

But according to an Ipsos Reid study reported today by the Center for Media Research, a whopping 70% of Americans believe “that when companies call a product ‘green’ (meaning better for the environment), it is usually just a ‘marketing tactic’”.

More interesting data points from the US panel:

  • Men are more likely than women to believe such labeling is just a marketing tactic (75% vs. 65%, respectively).
  • Southerners are most wary of the “green” label.  72% of southerners believe it’s a marketing tactic while 58% of those in the Northeast are least likely to believe this.
  • Nearly half of the men surveyed (49%) are less willing than women (39%) to pay more upfront for green products for their homes

This should be a real wake-up call for marketers who are or are planning to jump on the green wave.  Clearly this will require more than changing packaging or coming up with nifty new positioning statements.  With 70% of Americans in what I’d call the “non-believer” category, it’s going to take a complete re-orientation of your organizations.  By this, I mean that green will have to be something that the entire company lives.  Imagine a P&G, Wal-Mart, Target or Coke demanding higher “green” standards from their supply chains, from the raw materials to the processing to the packaging.  Imagine further that they demanded that their distributors commit to a timetable for changing their fleets over to ethanol-based engines in order to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to transport their products to retailers.

Perhaps it will take an effort on that order to overcome what seems to be a deep suspicion on the part of consumers.  Let’s see which companies take this information and really step up their green game.

More on this Center for Media Research report here.


Posted by Rob Fields