How to avoid greenwashing in your marketing efforts
July 20, 2023
Your customers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious. And as a business, it may seem like a smart idea to adopt green marketing strategies to appeal to a growing market of eco-conscious shoppers.
While your intentions may be pure, you need to be careful not to fall into the trap of greenwashing. It’s a practice that’s unfortunately become widespread, and can lead to media attention that’s far from flattering.
For e-commerce businesses specialising in sustainable and eco-conscious brands, avoiding greenwashing is vital for building trust and credibility among consumers. In this blog post, we’ll offer guidance on how these businesses can uphold authenticity in their marketing efforts and stand out as genuinely eco-conscious brands.
What do we mean by ‘greenwashing’?
Greenwashing can sometimes be difficult to define, but generally it’s the process of misleading consumers about how a company’s products or practices are environmentally sound. Some companies may make an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that their products are environmentally friendly, or it may not be as extreme as this. Many high-profile retailers are guilty of emphasising sustainable aspects of a product to overshadow their involvement in environmentally damaging practices.
Fast fashion retailer H&M has been sued more than once for “misleadingly, illegally, and deceptively” seeking to capitalise on consumer ‘green’ trends by labelling their Conscious Choice range with green hashtags in order to deceive customers into thinking they are purchasing a product that has been sustainably produced. Despite the range being mostly made from the same materials as their other garments, H&M were charging a premium price for this collection.
How does greenwashing affect the environment?
Greenwashing takes up valuable space in the fight against climate change and unethical manufacturing practices. Consumers are unknowingly buying products or services that are highly polluting, and more often than not paying a premium. This can have disastrous effects on the environment, fuelling further unsustainable practices and contributing to mass consumption.
How to avoid greenwashing
Transparency is the cornerstone of a sustainable brand’s marketing strategy. Be open about your supply chain, sourcing methods, manufacturing processes, and certifications. Provide comprehensive information on your website and product labels, allowing consumers to make informed decisions. When you show transparency, consumers are more likely to trust your brand and develop a long-lasting relationship.
Educate your customers about sustainability issues and the impact of their purchasing decisions. Use your platform to raise awareness about environmental challenges and the steps your brand is taking to address them. Consumers appreciate brands that empower them to make eco-friendly choices and inspire positive change.
Set clear sustainability goals
Demonstrate a genuine commitment to sustainability by setting clear and achievable goals. Communicate your efforts to reduce your carbon footprint, use renewable materials, or support eco-friendly initiatives. Regularly update your audience on your progress toward these goals to show accountability and dedication.
Avoid vague or misleading claims
Avoid using vague or misleading green marketing claims. Terms like “eco-friendly,” “green,” or “sustainable” should be supported by specific evidence or certifications. Ensure that any claims you make are verifiable and backed by credible sources.
Showcase impact and results
Provide concrete evidence of your brand’s impact on sustainability. Share data, reports, and case studies to showcase the positive outcomes of your eco-conscious practices. Customers are more likely to trust your claims if they can see tangible results.
Obtain third-party certifications
Seek certifications from recognised, independent organisations that validate your brand’s sustainability efforts. Certifications like Fair Trade, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), or B Corp can add credibility to your marketing claims and give consumers confidence in your eco-conscious initiatives.
Foster customer engagement
Engage with your customers genuinely and foster an open dialogue. Listen to their feedback and incorporate their ideas and concerns into your sustainability initiatives. Involving your audience in the journey toward sustainability creates a sense of ownership and loyalty to your brand.
Forge meaningful partnerships
Ensure that your suppliers also uphold sustainable practices. Collaborate with suppliers who share your commitment to eco-consciousness and ethical standards. Greenwashing in your supply chain can reflect poorly on your brand, even if your intentions are genuine.