Principles of Good Consumer Communication
Communication and marketing to consumers has become a challenging discipline – when does positive communication become “greenwashing” of a product or “blackwashing” of competitors product? With more communication channels available than ever before, many consumers have developed a mistrust of the information they are constantly being exposed to. So how do we reverse this trend and rebuild trust with consumers?
Here at Sustainable Leather Foundation, we want to empower our partners to be able to make clear, verifiable communication based on data and factual information.
When communicating with consumers, the following principles should be applied:
- Information should be accurate and truthful
- Any claims regarding sustainability, environmental credentials or social responsibility should be verifiable and demonstrable
- Information should be used with context for evaluation and understanding
- Information should not be deliberately misleading or fradulent.
Examples of Bad Communication
1. “This product contains 50% more recycled content”
50% more than what? If the product previously only contained 5% recycled content, then increasing that by 50% still only equates to 10% of the overall content. This is why context is crucial to good consumer communication.
2. “Environmentally responsible product”
How is this environmentally responsible? Make sure that the statement can be qualified and justified.
3. “Manufactured using green materials”
What materials? What does “green” mean?
Consumers have a right to truthful information that can be substantiated. If you, as a consumer, see a claim or a product label with a vague marketing or sustainability claim, you should ask the retailer or brand for evidence to support that claim.
Definitions at a glance…
Green-washing: the act of disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.
Source: Oxford Languages
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New Measures to prevent Green-washing
More attention is being given to the prevention of green-washing and misleading consumer communication. For example, in the UK the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have published a “Green Claims Code” as part of their concern about people being misled by environmental or sustainable claims.
Based on existing consumer law, the Green Claims Code focuses on 6 principles:
- Claims must be truthful and accurate
- Claims must be clear and unambiguous
- Claims must not omit or hide important information
- Comparisons must be fair and meaningful
- In making a claim you must consider the full life cycle of the product or service
- Claims must be substantiated.
The CMA makes it clear that companies making green claims “must not omit or hide important information” and “must consider the full life cycle of the product”.
You can read the Green Claims Code by clicking the link below: