Green Packaging - Viewpoint: Editor's Letter
Green Packaging: Just a Marketing Ploy?By Jennifer Kwok, Editor
Recently, I received a press release titled “Most Americans Say Green Advertising Is Just a Marketing Tactic.” This conclusion from market research group Ipsos-Reid is based on a September 2007 poll directed to homeowners regarding green building products for the home. According to the survey, 7 in 10 Americans polled either “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that when companies call a product green, it is usually just a marketing tactic.
I suppose that with many companies now claiming to offer green products, packages, or processes, it’s possible that the term green could eventually risk becoming a cliché for some consumers. Inarguably, part of the problem is that sustainability claims are largely unregulated, even as the green movement becomes mainstream. (The organic beauty products industry faced a similar challenge, with the word organic losing significance from unregulated overuse. Eventually, states such as California set certified-organic guidelines.)
The federal government recognizes the need for updated regulation. On January 8, the Federal Trade Commission held a public forum to discuss possible revisions to its Environmental Marketing Guides. The guide, last revised in 1998, defines and explains green topics in order educate consumers and to dissuade exaggerated environmental claims in advertising and labeling.
For the most part, I don’t believe that the word green has lost its impact just yet. Green advertising still attracts attention. And, pointing to the Ipsos-Reid study, perhaps consumers may not be ready to purchase expensive green home-construction products, but they might make the much smaller purchase of an eco-friendly lipstick tube or shampoo bottle. In fact, according to a September 2007 survey conducted by Landor Associates, in 2008 consumers are predicted to double their expenditures on green products and services to $500 billion, with beauty products ranked as one of the leading categories for green growth.
Green companies are quick to point out that they stand behind their words. “It’s not about the hype. There really are some of us that truly believe in the cause,” says Mary Van, CEO of cosmetics brand Mineralogie. “As opposed to what others might think, switching to green packaging has hurt us more sales-wise than it’s helped us. We haven’t raised our prices yet, and packaging is costing us more.”
The green packaging industry is only in its infancy—although it is growing up quickly. With this growth in mind, we hope that this premier issue of Green Packaging helps you to find the packaging that you need to prepare for the green wave that shows no sign of subsiding.