It’s not the best time to slap a green label on what you’re selling.
Not only are Canadians hyper-skeptical of greenwashing, they’re less interested in sustainability—period. Just 49% of the 1,500 consumers surveyed for Toronto ad agency Bensimon Byrne’s most recent Consumerology Report ranked the environment as a very important issue to them; much more pressing are health care, the price of gas and the state of the economy. This marks a significant decline from three years ago, when green issues were a top concern for 60% of Canucks. The reason? With the precarious state of the economy, more respondents say they just can’t afford to pay extra for green consumption choices. “The issue has lost its salience—especially for women—and is taking a back burner to cost and affordability,” explains agency president Jack Bensimon.
But it’s not all bad news; after all, half the buying population is still gung-ho for green. While shoppers are not terribly interested in the eco-friendly ways in which things are made—if you use renewable energy or purchase carbon offsets in the production of your goods, for instance, don’t expect most to care—you can expect takeup in waste reduction. Shoppers are seeking out recyclable or reusable products with minimal packaging; playing up these attributes is probably the best way to draw their dollars. Just don’t charge a premium for it; only a small fraction will pay extra for sustainability.