BfG News Issue 6 - Editor's Column: Avoiding the Greenwash

06 Nov 2007|Added Value

What must a company do to be considered “green”?
How ethical does a supply chain need to be to justify a “fair trade” claim of some sort?
How pure and natural does an “organic” product have to be?

There are some obvious sins a brand needs to avoid; it must avoid dishonesty, over-claim, and being economical with the truth. But even when trying hard to do the right thing, there are still traps a well-meaning brand can fall into.

We believe that two key watch-words for any brand in today’s world are humility and authenticity.

Humility means honest acknowledgement of your shortcomings – “we’re not perfect, but we’re working hard to get better”. 

Authenticity means ensuring a brand lives up to what it stands for, and can confidently substantiate whatever it claims.

At our ‘Branding for Good’ summit in March next year, we will reveal new thinking that will help brands to match their core values with the best ethical positioning. We will also share with our delegates an invaluable guide on the do’s and don’ts in the ethical arena.

It’s clear that consumers have high expectations of brands when it comes to ethical issues. It is also clear that many consumers say that such issues are important to them and influence their brand choices. But we suspect there is a big gap between what most consumers say and do when it comes to being green.

So we plan to explore this topic at the Invoke Live demonstration on 4th December, to which all ‘Branding for Good’ NEWS readers are invited to participate. Through this real time, online research study you will be able to observe consumers responding to questions about their attitudes & motivations around ethical and then see how these fair when faced with making real purchasing decisions. As the session unfolds, we will also be asking which brands they believe offer the best ethical choice as well as probing on what other brands need to do to help consumers become greener in their everyday lives. Participation is simple & on-line, from the comfort of your desk.  Let us know if you’re interested in taking part in this unique study.

From online, real time research to social networking spanning the world, the internet has opened up a host of digital opportunities. There are a growing number of examples where brands have taken their ethical positioning into the online environment. The digital research we’re conducting for the ‘Branding for Good’ Summit will explore the digital influence on consumer behaviour and the consumer expectations of ethical brand behaviour. Research will be conducted in the UK, US and Germany giving us insights from three culturally different markets. We’re asking our respondents to upload videos & comment on dedicated MySpace and Facebook pages to show what authentic means to them.  They’ll be commenting on various sites, including Ben & Jerry’s on SecondLife, Fanta, Coke and Volkswagen on MySpace and Nike and Toyota on Facebook.  The results will be shared at the Summit:  ‘Green 2.0:  Avoid the Greenwash’.  Register now.

Angus Porter
Global CEO, Added Value Group

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