Consumers unconvinced by ethical advertising ‘greenwash’

Posted on 27 May 2008 by The Manufacturer

Consumers are largely sceptical of the ethical business addresses released by companies, according to a survey by Gfk NOP.

We live in an era when promotion through environmentally-friendly boasts has been almost unanimously adopted in mainstream marketing. It has been labelled as ‘the greenwash’ by advertising commentators.

However, only 18 per cent of those asked feel business ethics have actually improved. Despite high-profile eco-friendly campaigns from the likes of BP, Tesco and Toyota to name just a few, 62 per cent felt “companies are only out for themselves” and just 33 per cent felt pressured to deal only with ethically-minded organisations. This figure was up 10 per cent on last year however, and Gfk NOP reports that this growing hardcore is likely to retain the principle through increasing retail costs and the global credit crunch. In addition, just over half of consumers now see supporting local brands as a priority.

Corinne Moy, director of brand strategy at Gfk, said: “Consumers are a lot more sceptical but a lot more engaged in the whole area. To some extent, one begets the other.”

The survey also asked for consumers proposals of the most ethical companies. Top was Co-op, followed by Body Shop, Marks & Spencer, Green & Blacks and Ecover. Making up the top ten were Traidcraft, Cafédirect, Innocent, Divine and Tesco.

The research by Gfk NOP is due to be published in full this week.