Don’t get environmentalism wrong

New products boasting environmentally friendly claims in 2007 was 328 — almost double the number of new items making similar claims the previous year, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database. “More than ever, shoppers want to purchase goods that help protect and preserve the world around them,” says Chris Haack, senior research analyst. “Manufacturers have responded with everything from recyclable packaging to products that maintain the body’s health to entire brands that support environmental causes.” People especially have eco-friendly products in mind when shopping for household paper products (66 percent), food (57 percent) and energy-efficient appliances (48 percent), according to Mintel. And although consumers are increasingly interested in green marketing initiatives, they are also quite cynical, is the word from the International Advertising Association's World Congress, reports AdAge.com. That provides new opportunities for improving brand equity and engaging consumers -- but also lots of risk in getting it wrong. Companies must show that any cause-related marketing really ties to their brand and be careful not to overstate claims. "Consumers expect companies to give back as much as they take," said David Jones, global CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide. "Today it's a mainstream issue." He cautioned that companies need to have not only a strong position, but one that is clear. "Be differentiated," he said. "This is one of more cluttered areas of the world." According to Jones, up to 86 percent of consumers believe that companies should stand for something beyond profitability and 80 percent believe that they should censure companies that don't.