Will private Eco labels be phasing out?
Four Green Marketing Predictions For 2008
By Jacquelyn Ottman
Jacquelyn Ottman, president and founder of J. Ottman Consulting
As I look out over the 2008 horizon, I predict some tectonic shifts in the world of green marketing that well-intended marketers should heed if they want to stay off greenwashing lists and legal department memos. Some are influenced by the FTCs hearings on green marketing claims and eco-labels this month, others the outcome of energy behind large retailers efforts to persuade suppliers to come up with trimmed-down products and packages. Here are my top four predictions.
#1. Discredited Green Claims Lose Traction
Expect some now-meaningless marketing terms to fall by the wayside. For instance, expect to see fewer claims of biodegradability, especially in regard to some types of corn-based plastics, which have been found not to degrade in backyard compost heaps or even municipal systems.
There will be a virtual shut-down on claims of carbon offsetting until standards can be set and for-profits and NGOs who sell the offsets can be verified.
This year will also see the seeds planted to severely curb the use of self-imposed eco-labels like Home Depot's Eco-Options and Canon's Clean Earth. Please folks lets stick with only those labels, like Energy Star, FSC, and Organic, which have been issued by trusted third parties.
Finally, I hope and pray that standards will finally be set for terms like natural so consumer confidence can be restored in this most basic of green attributes.
#2. Electronics Suppliers Tout Eco-Performance
Expect electronics firms to start marketing their green bonafides, earned by creating programs to take back their products at end of useful life and reducing their use of toxic chemicals in response to European Directives, WEEE (Waste for Electric and Electronic Equipment) and RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances). Weve already been approached for help in crafting green strategies by no less than three of the big electronics firms perhaps Wal-Mart has something to do with it?
#3. Companies Make More Green Products...
Many more green products will hit the shelves in 2008 as industry takes additional, more confident steps to satisfy big retailer demands for products with less packaging, less energy use, and reduced toxicity (e.g., no PVC or heavy metals). Many of these products will put primary benefits front and center in marketing materials, reflecting resulting higher performance levels, aethetics, and cost effectiveness, while green claims will recede, reflecting reticence from potential greenwashing backlash, and a simple growing awareness in good green marketing practice.
#4. ...and Companies Sell More Green Products
Green products sales will soar, boosted by the marketing heft of major consumer products firms who've been on a green brand shopping spree of late. Examples include Clorox, which snapped up Burts Bees in 2007 and launched its own GreenWorks brand, Colgate (Toms of Maine), Procter & Gamble (Crest Naturals and Tide Coldwater), and Danone (Stonyfield Farm). Expect continued growth for deep green standalones like Method and Seventh Generation as they continue to grow behind mass market distribution. A myriad of green product trade shows Coop Americas Green Festivals in Chicago, Washington D.C., and San Francisco, the Go Green Expo in New York, N.Y., and others will introduce more consumers to greener alternatives, and this will help, too.
Jacquelyn A. Ottman is president of J. Ottman Consulting and host of SLM's weekly Sustainable Brands newsletter. Her book, Green Marketing: Opportunity for Innovation, is called the "definitive work on the subject" by the American Marketing Association.