The truth about marketing and the environment.
Market demand for environmentally friendly products is at an all-time high. As a result, marketers attempt to appeal to their audience with terms like eco-friendly, Green, environmentally friendly, all-natural, and sustainable. However, consumers who are passionate about purchasing Green products are creating awareness and making it easier for all consumers to determine which products are truly “Green” and which are “Greenwashing.”
In 1986, prominent ecologist and researcher Jay Westerveld coined the term Greenwashing to describe an organization that spends substantially more time and money on marketing itself as environmentally friendly than minimizing its environmental impact. It often involves making misleading or unsubstantiated claims about their product and production processes to persuade consumers that their brand is environmentally conscious. It is also not uncommon for an organization to focus on sustainability to eclipse the company’s involvement in environmentally damaging practices.
But the tides are turning. It is no longer about a select group of consumers driving demand for eco-friendly products. A corporate consciousness has emerged, with employees genuinely concerned with their brands’ impact on the planet. They have a personal and vested interest in honest communication about their efforts. These reputable brands that sell genuinely Green products make substantiated claims highlighting factual Green initiatives in their messaging. They often spell out in great detail on their website, the processes and practices they employ to create Green products, including using recycled materials, reducing waste, using only sustainable resources and renewable energy for their manufacturing process, and the commitment to zero carbon emissions. The most significant benefit of investing in environmentally sound practices is that it saves organizations money and increases profitability. In fact, 73% of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable products because they align with their personal values, which is often a determining factor in purchasing or not purchasing a product. When they see organizations being environmentally irresponsible, it turns them away from those brands, and towards brands they perceive as environmentally conscious.
So how does Direct Mail fit into an environmentally conscious organizational environment? There is a misconception that Direct Mail is less environmentally friendly than digital marketing. This myopic view doesn’t consider the vast amount of energy required to manage electronic communications, including emails, that run on non-renewable energy or fossil fuels. In addition, the digital open and response rates are so low that much of this marketing effort is a waste of energy. On the other hand, Direct Mail, which has an over 90% open rate, is based on a renewable resource – paper. “It is important for an organization to carry its environmental responsibility through every aspect of its business, including Direct Mail programs. Providing clients with Direct Mail solutions that meet their corporate environmental values is vital in today’s marketplace”, says John Leonard, V.P. Sales and Marketing, Cover-All Business Communication Management. There are many things that organizations are doing to further reduce the environmental impact of their Direct Mail program, including:
- Refining target audiences, ensuring lists are free of duplicate records and incorrect addresses and removing historically non-responsive consumers from their lists.
- Utilizing chemical-free, bleach-free and eco-friendly paper, envelope windows, ink, and coatings.
- Using recycled paper.
- Asking consumers to recycle their mailers.
- Ensuring suppliers are committed to environmentally friendly practices, including membership in organizations like the Forestry Stewardship Council® (FSC).
The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) is a multinational industry group that sets standards for forest products. FSC® forest management certification confirms that a forest is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers while ensuring it sustains economic viability.
Once you have taken steps to ensure your mail program is in lockstep with your corporate environmental policies, it is common to use symbols and language indicators to communicate your efforts to your audience, including:
- Printed on Recycled Paper
- Recycled Paper Content
- Please recycle
- Responsible Sources
As organizations increasingly seek to minimize their environmental footprint, every aspect of their activity needs to transform, including marketing efforts. Any attempts at Greenwashing may result in irreparable harm to the brand’s reputation. However, sincere efforts concerning the company’s impact on the environment can result in improved customer loyalty and profitability.
John Leonard is V.P., Sales & Marketing for Cover-All Business Communication Management. He works with his team and clients to develop relevant and effective communications by using data and technology. Contact Cover-All Business Communication Management to find out more at (416)752-8100.