Earlier this month, Britain’s Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne urged business leaders to change the way they market green products in an effort to move promotional focus away from ethics and responsibilities and market them as the “fun” and “smart” choice.
At the launch of a new report from the Confederation of British Industry, Huhne insisted that companies had a duty of care when it came to advancing consumer choice of green living, and, according to The Guardian, also encouraged them to promote what he called “green hedonism”.
The publication of a new report from the CBI has come with stark warnings to Britain’s business community to knuckle down and work much harder on their so far ineffective attempts to convert a nation of could care-less consumers to a nation of conscientious caretakers.
During the Launch of CBI’s ‘Buying into It – Making the Consumer Case for Low-Carbon’, the organisation’s Director-General John Cridland said:
“Consumers are often baffled when faced with a variety of low-carbon products on sale, each making different green claims.
“All too often we find that consumers are something of a Cinderella of the low-carbon economy. Unless we can get the public truly on board, then all the investment in new technology and all our low-carbon innovation will be for nothing.”
Commissioned especially for the report, a survey of nearly 2,000 people reveals that 83 per cent of consumers believe that businesses are responsible for advising them about energy efficiency. Similarly, the survey shows that only 16 per cent trust manufacturers and only nine per cent trust retailers to be honest about exactly it is what they’re selling.
As a result of the findings, Cridland advised:
“Businesses need to provide clear, consistent labeling that becomes a trusted universal standard with the public. The success of A-G labeling for white goods like fridges and washing machines shows that this kind of approach works.”
Cridland highlighted that up until now, consumer habits have changed very little, and added:
“It is only when we get significant public buy-in of low-carbon goods that we will make real progress towards our carbon reduction targets.”
Echoing the report’s sentiments, Huhne urged:
“We need to change the story so that rather than [green products being] a sacrifice we take to feel better about ourselves, it is clear the green choice is the smart choice… the fun choice,” he said.
Cridland suggested a standardized green labeling system, and was critical of the use of green labels by brands until now. He called companies out on their deliberate ploys to baffle consumers, and companies’ incitement of customers into buying products which they falsely believed would reduce their emissions.
Choosing an expensive appliance just because it is marked ‘green’ appliance will also only serve to bump up the price of home contents insurance – a cost which consumers could do without, and one which bolsters the common misconception that green living is simply unachievable unless you have a high income.
Huhne said the government was keen to work with businesses to help them help customers wholly embrace the idea of green living, calling for the introduction of a “simple, consistent, voluntary labeling scheme”.
Both Cridland and Huhne have praised the successful model of the A-G labeling system for refrigerators, whereby they display the energy costs associated with different products to consumers before they buy.
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