One marketing strategy that has been used by companies who want to connect with consumers is the green angle.  Consumers have responded by buying goods and services they believe are not harmful to the environment. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees green claims made by marketers and last updated its Green Guides in 1998. The agency is currently soliciting public input on the changes it is proposing to make to its guides.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz says “The proposed updates to the Green Guides will help businesses better align their product claims with consumer expectations.”  The FTC addressed the following broad areas in its proposals:

  • Marketers should avoid saying that a product is ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘eco-friendly’ in a general sense.
  • Marketers should avoid listing any “unqualified certifications or seals of approval” with respect to environmental claims unless they have specific data to point to.
  • Marketers should not says that a product is degradable unless it decomposes within one year.

In addition, the FTC expects marketers to be cautious about their claims on renewable energy and carbon offset.  For example, the agency frowns on advertising a carbon offset claim if it is already mandated by law. And if an offset is not to occur within 2 years of a product purchase, the FTC hopes that marketers will announce this fact in advertising copy.

The agency is accepting inputs through December 10 of this year. Following a review period, the guidelines on green marketing will be officially updated. Marketers can then access the FTC website for a comprehensive listing of acceptable standards for green marketing.

[Source: FTC Proposes Revised Green Guides. FTC.gov.06 Oct. 2010. Web. 21 Oct. 2010]