Have you ever bought a product on impulse because of some vague claim like “green,” “natural” or “earth-friendly,” brought it home and found it’s not green at all? Not all companies are trying to deceive us, but with the lack of a unified standard for green labeling, it’s all too easy for consumers to be confused.
Of course, some companies like it that way, because it means they can get a piece of the green market without putting forth any real effort. That’s why, according to a Brandweek editorial by Andrew Benett and Greg Welch, businesses that want to be trusted by consumers need to think beyond green.
“In sum, green can mean virtually anything,” write Benett and Welch. “And that suggests it will eventually mean absolutely nothing. What today’s more mindful, savvier and more demanding consumers are seeking are brand partners that have evolved beyond green to something else: clear.”
It’s all about transparency – something the business world could use a lot more of. The “clear brands of tomorrow” won’t have mission statements packed with ambiguous language about improving people’s lives, they’ll outline specific actions and goals and invite consumers to track their progress.
But that’s just the beginning of “going clear”, say Benett and Welch. “Consumers are no longer willing to let businesses exist simply for the purpose of making money; they want them to contribute to the greater good.”
Open lines of communication between company leaders and the public are vital, but most of all, what businesses will need to do is prove that they care by raising the bar. For example, XYZ Beauty Co. can’t cut parabens from its products and be content with that lone action – they’ll need to continuously strive for the next improvement and find ways that they can take sustainability even further.
Perhaps we’re a long way away from green business, let alone clear business, being the norm, but it’s important to aim for a world where companies are truly held accountable for their social and environmental impact.