Green Marketing Campaigns Don’t Always Stick

May 16, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

CPG & FMCG | Retail & E-Commerce | Television

Some 71% of North Americans want to know about the socially responsible behavior of brands they buy – but most people cannot identify a list of major brands as socially responsible or irresponsible, according to a new poll, writes Environmental Leader.

Some brands, such as Wal-Mart and GE, that have spent significant marketing dollars communicating green initiatives are not connecting, according to the April 2008 online poll of 5,000 North Americans for Conscientious Innovation’s latest Shift Report.

  • Just 19% identify both Wal-Mart and GE a socially responsible companies.
  • Only 6.5% identify Bank of America as a socially responsible brand.

Those companies led the way with green and CSR (corporate social responsibility) marketing communications in 2007.

The study reveals areas of socially responsible decisions being made by consumers – as well as areas in which they plan to make such decisions:


  • The top planned areas for socially responsible behavior vacation choices (46%), financial investments (45%) and choices related to cars (43%).
  • The top areas where socially responsible behavior have been made are food choices, home cleaning, and home energy.

“Green” is not the most important sustainability issue for consumers and isolates the key brand characteristics that consumers are looking for when defining a company as socially responsible:


  • Most (58%) rank global warming as an important sustainability issue; however, social, personal and spiritual sustainability sectors are ranked higher:
    • Connecting with friends, family and community (90%)
    • Fair trade (73%)
    • Employee treatment (85%)
  • Organic products fell near the bottom as an important sustainability issue (30%), whereas commitment to “buying local and supporting locally based business” ranked much higher (more than 60%).

The study also found that people are sensitive to a disconnect between glossy ad campaigns and tangible operating practices when ranking key brand characteristics they look for when deciding whether a brand is socially responsible.

The top-ranked characteristics include product design (65%), packaging (64%), produced locally/sold by a locally based business (57%). While not at the top, affiliation with a nonprofit or charitable cause is important to 41% of the population.

45th Parallel Design Ad

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