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Messaging Your Green Bona Fides

Cone Communications released a new survey on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 about consumer expectations and understanding of corporate green claims, and the results are both a wake-up call and an opportunity for companies messaging their green bona fides.

In the study, called the 2012 Cone Green Gap Trend Tracker, Cone found that consumers just aren’t willing to do their due diligence when it comes to the environmental impacts of a company’s products. Ergo, 73 percent of consumers want companies to provide more environmental information on products directly on the packaging. Another 71 percent wish companies would do a better job helping them understand the environment terms they use.

Some 36 percent believe that common environmental marketing terms like ‘green’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ mean that product has a positive effect on the environment. Another 18 percent believe that such terms mean that the products’ effect on the environment is neutral.

Read Cone’s press materials for more results.

To me, this reads like not only a wake-up call, but an opportunity. Consumers are telling companies, in effect, that they want to outsource their trust in the greenness of products. But right now they don’t feel like they can.

If that sounds like an exaggeration, remember that one of the main purposes of a brand is to make a kind of promise to your customers. When they see your name or logo customers your brand promises that you’ll deliver brand benefits A, B and C.

Let me repeat my first point for emphasis. Most consumers aren’t going to go to the library…or even the Internet… to decide whether your products are really and truly green. Instead, they want you to put it right on your packaging so they can just compare against others!

Two initial thoughts:
Nothing’s hotter right now than infographics. Pinterest is packed with ‘em. Infographics are graphical representations of data. That’s an infographic on the left about blenders from an outfit called coolinfographics.com.

So imagine corporate environmental messaging becoming more like an infographic on the packaging itself. Not all packaging lends itself to such summaries. It would be hard to get much else beside an infographic on a package of razors, for instance.

But boxes of cereal and bottles of laundry detergent oughta be doable. Moreover, you could certainly use QR codes and virtual reality to extend the capabilities of the smallest packaging.
The second thought is salient to the moment.
Right now there is first-mover advantage to messaging well your green commitment. Get known as the company that really lives green and can demonstrate it and that brand benefit can define your company or brand forever after.

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