Who Owns “Green” Brands?

Just created the group project proposal. It got torn to shreds but it got me thinking.

Originally our objectives were:

1) To show how the benefits of going green can act as a differentiator between local businesses and their competitors.

2) To show how brands strategically structure their “green image” depending on their audience and situation.

3) To show how bigger brands are changing their identities by sub-branding themselves to reach the green market.

As Catherine pointed out these are all projects on their own. Our topic was far too broad and we are now collectively working to narrow our ideas on sustainability.  We think we are going to focus of the authenticity of sustainable ads, what agencies are doing and why clients would want to portray a “green” image.

Before we completely changed our project however, I wanted to discuss our previous third objective. I was particularly intrigued on the topic of who owns “green” brands. Believe me it’s not who you’d think. Would you consider companies like Clorox and Colgate to be green? I wouldn’t have either had I not recently researched the two corporate giants and their attempts to go green. It turns out that Burt’s Bees, a line of “earth friendly natural personal care products”, is actually owned by Clorox (best known for its bleach). I’ve seen the effect that toxins in bleach have on my colored clothing so I can only imagine what they’re doing for our environment. Not so “green” after all. Toms of Maine, another brand to be considered “green” among the majority of the American public, is actually owned by Colgate-Palmolive.  Colgate also makes Ajax and Speed Stick, two deodorants which use  aluminum ziconoium tetrachlorhydex and other not-so-natural products. Lastly Aveeno, which makes natural body care products, is owned by Johnson and Johnson. Though I wouldn’t consider J & J to be an anti-green brand they did just recently have several recalls due to tiny metallic particles found in their products–the result of a mishap at their manufacturing plant.

WPP recently did a survey of of consumer perceptions on green branding. According to the survey the top 10 “green” brands in the United states according to consumers are as follows:

1. Burt’s Bees

2. Whole Foods Market

3. Tom’s of Maine

4. Trader Joe’s

5. Google

6. Aveeno

7. SC Johnson

8. Public

9. Microsoft

10. Ikea

 This brings up the question, can non-green brands create green products under a new name? I think the answer is yes. Consumers care about environmental sustainability when they choose a brand, product or service and want to buy from environmentally responsible companies. The WPP survey states that in about 60% of consumers this is the case and that the only priorities that should supersede environmental responsibility in a company should be good value, trustworthiness and customer care. With customers developing an increasing appreciation for all things green, it’s no wonder that large corporate conglomerates are changing their identities to incorporate these consumer needs.
Here is a slideshow of the findings compiled by the WPP survey:



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