It’s hard to walk down the supermarket aisle, scroll Instagram or do any kind of online shopping without seeing greenwashing — misleading sustainability claims that lead a consumer to think a product or brand is more green than it really is.
As an agency that only works with brands in the health, wellness and sustainability niche, we’re working with businesses that are truly walking the sustainability walk, not just not talking the talk. But how can we communicate sustainability measures and values when so many brands are making the same claims without doing the work?
It can be a frustrating position to find yourself in, but it is possible to differentiate your brand from the greenwashers and communicate your genuine measures in an impactful way.
Use Third Party Accreditation
Greenwashing brands can not be accredited by trusted sustainability certifications, but your brand can be. Depending on your industry, there will be a selection of third party accreditation services you can become certified by.
Some examples are:
- Certified B Corporation
- Fair Trade
- SPCA Blue Tick
- Toitū Envirocare
- PETA-Approved Vegan
- 1% for the Planet
- Certified Carbon Neutral
- Rainforest Alliance Certified
The certification bodies you decide to partner with will be dependent on your product, sustainability measures and brand.
Focus on Quality
One of the most effective ways brands can be more sustainable is by producing products that are high quality. But in order for your customer to choose your brand or product over a greenwashing competitor, you must communicate quality in an effective way.
Some ways you might communicate quality include:
- Emphasising key quality ingredients or components to your product.
- Including a warranty or money back guarantee.
- Reflecting quality in your price point.
- Mentioning where your products ingredients/components are sourced from, and where they are made. Eg. Locally sourced Manuka honey, made in New Zealand.
- Reflecting quality in your brand communications, using words such as luxury, bespoke, premium.
Prioritise & Simplify
When it comes to sustainability, no one can do everything, but greenwashers seem to think they can. Vague sweeping statements and blocks of green imagery is a greenwasher’s go-to strategy.
To stand out, you need to prioritise, simplify and get specific. What are the specific measures you’re taking to lighten your tread on the planet? What are the most valuable measures to your target market? Can you display tangible results from your efforts?
Focus on a select number of things and communicate them to your customers in an exciting and engaging way to break through the ambiguous claims of greenwashers.
Educate Your Customers about Greenwashing
Customers are confused, and for good reason. How are they supposed to know which brands to trust when everyone is claiming to be ‘sustainable’?
One way you can help them is to educate them about the very concept of greenwashing. You can incorporate educational content into your social media strategy, email marketing and content marketing strategy.
For example, you may like to talk to your customers about signs of a greenwashing culprit such as:
- Vague fluffy statements
- No third party certifications
- Claims that the brand is doing everything right
- Misleading packaging
You may like to communicate such points through the likes of an IGTV video, piece of email marketing content or series of social media posts.
Create & Share Your Sustainability Goals & Reports
Transparency is becoming increasingly important for consumers, so start sharing where you’re at. Not only will this build trust between your brand and your target market, but it will help differentiate your brand from greenwashers as you provide tangible evidence of your goals and progress.
Remember people have short attention spans so putting a 1000 page report in front of them isn’t going to resonate. Break down the key items of your report and communicate them in an engaging way to your audience.
Greenwashers can only get so far with their slimy tactics. Authentic, value-driven, and genuinely passionate brands will always win the long haul.
Instead of getting frustrated, angry or annoyed with greenwashers, tune that energy into creating meaningful sustainability efforts and campaigns for your own brand. It’s the best long term strategy available, trust us.