November 17, 2014
UL Environment Issues Under the Lens: Claiming Green
Marietta, GA November 17, 2014 – UL Environment, a division of UL (Underwriters Laboratories) Supply Chain & Sustainability, announced today that it has published a research study that provides concrete data about which green claims are most effective in the marketplace. The findings of UL Environment’s “Under the Lens: Claiming Green” outline the role that certified claims play in adding to perceived brand value and reputation as well as the importance of clearly, credibly, and simply communicating sustainability activities.
Demand is growing every year from consumers and business purchasers alike for products that minimize impact on the environment, reduce energy costs and promote better health. Consumers are also getting smarter about green product claims. As a result, certified claims performed best in the study; however, there is still a lack of clarity in the marketplace. The study also showed that consumers reacted negatively to claims with overly technical or generic language, and to claims that used a logo without qualifying language to provide context.
“As purchasers becomes more sophisticated about product claims, successfully communicating green claims is more important than ever to a company’s brand and reputation,” said Lisa Meier, UL Environment’s vice president and general manager. “We’re hopeful this research will serve as a tool to help companies make more meaningful sustainability claims, and tell their sustainability stories more effectively.”
Through a survey of more than 1,000 consumers which generated almost 42,000 head-to-head comparisons of various green product claims in the categories of home improvement, electronics, personal care and cleaning products, UL Environment assessed the impact these claims have on purchaser preference and perceived brand value. Additionally, through a qualitative survey business decision makers, UL Environment evaluated the impact green claims have on company buying decisions. The findings outline the role that certified claims play in adding to perceived brand value and reputation; and the importance of clearly, credibly, and simply communicating sustainability activities.
Key Findings: While certified claims performed best---winning in all categories---and qualifying language adds to a claim’s effectiveness, there is still some confusion in the marketplace. Consumers reacted negatively to claims with overly technical or generic language, and to claims which were logo only and lacked qualifying language to provide context. Business purchasers and influencers demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of problematic claims and also consistently identified certified claims as those worth a premium.
“We saw a need for this research because the market has changed and matured a great deal since we published our last Sins of Greenwashing report in 2010,” explained Mark Rossolo, UL Environment’s director of public affairs. “In the interim, the FTC has updated and clarified their Green Guides guidance on making sustainability claims and has been diligent in enforcing compliance, so this study was aimed at determining the purchaser’s perception of the issue.”
The full report provides detailed findings in each category, on the demographics of groups that had the highest preference for certifications, and on key drivers for market demand for greener products, including data on individual certification rankings in each product category.
It is available today at http://environment.ul.com/claiminggreen, and an accompanying free webinar is scheduled for November 18 at 2 p.m. EDT to review and discuss the findings. Interested parties are invited to register at http://bit.ly/1ph2gx6.