Whether coatings are sold directly to consumers or business to business, UL’s study: Under the Lens: Claiming Green – The influence of green product claims on purchase intent and brand perception reveals that legitimate third-party, certified green claims contribute to the attractiveness of a product and command a higher price because of enhanced brand perception. The survey results are noteworthy, as 70% of Americans say they’re searching for greener products, and 67% of business decision makers indicate sustainability is an important factor when making decisions for their organizations.
Avoiding Misleading Claims
However, many manufacturers misrepresent their products by claiming they are green for the purposes of enhancing sales. In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission revised its Green Guides, the agency’s core set of guidelines to help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims. The Guides are now more specific and prescriptive, making it easier for the FTC to prosecute “greenwashers.” Accordingly, if a green claim is considered to be deceptive in the eyes of the FTC, there is both a financial and a legal risk.
To minimize risk, compliance with FTC regulations is a minimum requirement. Based on their findings, the authors offer guidelines for general understanding of product claims within three categories:
- Legitimate claims. These first-party claims use clear, specific language that can be substantiated. In other words, these claims meet the FTC eye test for credibility, but the information is not certified by an independent third party.
- Certified claims. These claims have been substantiated by an independent third party. In recent years, several certifiers have begun to offer eco-labels under different classifications, such as validations, verifications, and certifications.
- Problematic claims. These first-party claims do not appear to meet the standards set by the FTC in the revised Green Guides. They’re the “greenwashers” in the study.
The Case for Certified Claims
Survey results indicate that 54% of consumers and businesses prefer certified claims over legitimate or problematic claims.
- 56% of those surveyed indicated that certifications made products more reputable.
- 58% of respondents also said that they would pay up to 10% more for a third party certified green product.
- 89% of businesses are willing to pay more for a product certified by a third party, compared to 58% of consumers.
- Survey results indicate that confusion or unclear claims equate to negative brand perception.
- Certifications had the most positive influence on product purchase, with 93% of consumers choosing a certification as one of their top three factors for choosing a product.
And business decision makers are more sophisticated than consumers about green claims and value the role certifications play in purchase decisions.
- Certifications save time so that they don’t have to research product claims.
- Certifications help make the case for a product’s long-term cost-effectiveness when the initial cost is higher.
- Certifications reduce risk and insulate the decision maker from backlash.
Want to learn more?
If you missed the Under the Lens: Claiming Green webinar, you can still get all the details by accessing the recording. Visit environment.ul.com/claiminggreen for more information.
And make sure to download UL Environment’s exclusive report, “Claiming Green,” for more insights.
The views, opinions and technical analyses presented here are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of UL, ULProspector.com or Knowledge.ULProspector.com. While the editors of this site make every effort to verify the accuracy of its content, we assume no responsibility for errors made by the author, editorial staff or any other contributor. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior authorization from Prospector.