How is Misleading Green Marketing Hurting Ethical Shopping? - Doc Cotton

We are seeing a competitive shift in the marketplace today as more ethical brands are emerging to declare their purpose of planet over profit to the conscious consumer. It’s a beautiful thing to witness and it comes from a pure place of passion and respect for the planet and all its inhabitants. But, How is Misleading Green Marketing Hurting Ethical Shopping?

 In the green space, it’s not unusual to find that eco-friendly products or services typically cost more. But as we’ve seen at Doc Cotton, ethical shoppers are mindful enough to be swayed to spend more if they see the value in where their hard-earned money is going. In fact, a recent report by Business of Fashion and McKinsey found that 60% of millennials are willing to spend more on sustainable brands. 

The trouble comes when consumers can’t quickly find or understand how that extra cost translates into green value. Slogging through cryptic charts, buried reports, and vague promises, quickly takes all of the fun (and follow through) out of ethical shopping. Now, who wants that? 

Despite how honest the intentions of green businesses, they only have a few seconds to share the evidence of their impact with a consumer. Anything longer or more complicated and you’ll see abandoned shopping carts and high bounce rates.

Eco brands need to explain to their audience why they should pay more for their products. Impact must be easily understood and show tangible and immediate benefits through specific, relatable examples. For example, it’s not enough to say, “This is Mary and she made your dress.”

As a conscious consumer, I want to be assured that Mary is adequately compensated for that garment, and better yet, I want to know if her wage satisfies her cost of living. Does making this dress mean that she can access health care? Send her kids to school? Access clean water?

There is a very simple takeaway: Impact should always be tangible and never simply suggestive.

In other words…

  1. Always be explicit. Name the ways you are measuring impact and then give us the numbers. Are you reducing water? How much? How often? Where?
  2. Offer comparisons. Are you doing better than the industry norm? Show us the norm compared to your success. Have you improved over time? Show us your progress.
  3. Use relatable measurements. Sharing the electricity you’ve saved in kilowatt hours means almost nothing to the average consumer. Give us that impact in a measurement we interact with daily, like the number of lightbulbs saved or hours of household electricity reduced.

Here’s the truth – pretending that the photo of a smiling happy woman in traditional dress is an adequate expression of impact simply doesn’t cut it anymore. The most effective way you can close the say-do gap is by sharing impact data.

Become a master at tracking your impact and show concrete numbers that motivate immediate action. Utilize impact calculators and infographics next to product descriptions, promote attainable targets, and challenge collective action. In this fast-paced, competitive online market, it’s time to ditch your long-winded sales pitch, and get visual, interactive and on brand with your impact marketing strategy.

This article was written by Akhil Sivanandan, co-founder of Green Story. Green Story is a consumer engagement platform for responsible businesses. Their mission is help companies communicate environmental and social impact to stakeholders in a clear, credible and relatable manner. Their platform leads to better engagement based on credible scientific data impact data presented for clarity and authority. You learn more on their site or their Instagram