sustainable business

Credible Green Information in Short Supply, Says Survey

Carolyn McMaster | February 16, 2009

Clear, credible, complete communications about green products and services is in short supply, according to recent research by the Boston Consulting Group. In the report “Capturing the Green Advantage for Consumer Companies,” they write:

There is considerable confusion around the world about what being green really means. Because the industry lacks clear definition and standards, some companies have been able to make sweeping and unsubstantiated claims about their environmental credentials. That has caused many consumers to become skeptical about green products, and companies to become wary of offering them.”

Further, consumers don’t know how to tell if a product is green or what benefits it provides, researchers found. In seeking this information, people trust independent consumer reports most, followed by academic and scientific publications and family and friends. Manufacturers and retailers are less credible, but despite that, one-half to three-fourths of people surveyed said they rely on advertising and product labels for information, even though most don’t understand the labeling or mistrust it.

Companies need to step up with credible green claims, and show how and why green benefits are relevant. Otherwise, they’re missing a huge opportunity: Researchers estimate that companies lose nearly 20 percent of potential business when they fail to adequately inform consumers about green offerings. The consumers surveyed want to be green and sustainable and they value those benefits—but they are wary of greenwashing, and few are willing to pay more for green. “Both retailers and manufacturers need to improve consumers’ awareness of green products and the choices available,” concludes the report. 

Read more about the survey findings in BCG’s press release.

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