Sustainable Cosmetics Summit to explore green marketing challenges

By Katie Nichol

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Green marketing Marketing

Companies looking to target ethical consumers with sustainability claims need to take a holistic approach, according to Darrin C Duber-Smith, president of strategic planning firm Green Marketing Inc.

Duber-Smith, who received the 2009 Wall Street Journal Distinguished Professor Award for his work, is giving a presentation on green marketing challenges at the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit hosted by Organic Monitor in New York.

At a time when consumers are becoming more aware of greenwashing and more wary of companies that over-emphasise ethical credentials, Duber-Smith’s seminar aims to guide makers of natural and organic personal care products through the pitfalls of green marketing.

Need for transparency and clear communication

According to Duber-Smith, the key to a successful green marketing strategy is clear communication and transparency, which can help to increase consumer loyalty and create a ‘feel good’ culture within companies.

In contrast, misleading communication and exaggerated product claims are more likely to deter consumers from buying a company’s products and open a business up to scrutiny, he says.

Low proliferation of standards increase green marketing importance

The topic of marketing products on their environmental and sustainable credentials is a hot topic in the US, and there have been a number of lawsuits as a result of accusations of misleading product labeling and unethical marketing practices.

The ongoing lawsuit first filed back in April 2008 by Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, alleged that its complicity to strict FDA regulations governing organic​ beauty products was not being met by its competitors.

Dr. Bronner’s claimed that many of the leading organic beauty brands are not complying with the standards enforced by the FDA, in turn not complying with consumer expectations as to the definition of an organic certified product.

Organic Monitor points to the low adoption rate of private standards for natural and organic personal care products as an important reason for these accusations of false marketing and misleading product labeling, as less than 5 percent of such products in the US are certified compared to two-thirds in Europe.

Need for clearer product labeling

With only a small percentage of organic or natural products boasting a recognised seal, American consumers thus rely more heavily on product claims and marketing when it comes to selecting a product.

Duber-Smith claims that in order for consumer to trust a product, companies need to be more specific when it comes to labeling; specifying organic and natural ingredients and their percentages.

He also encourages the idea of undergoing a sustainability audit that takes into account not only raw materials, but water and energy usage, waste disposal and social partnerships.

These issues and more, including successful case studies of sustainable companies, will be discussed in Duber-Smith’s Green Marketing Challenges seminar at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit taking place in New York on 24-26 March.

For more information about the summit, please visit the website​.

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