“Consumers Don’t Warm to Eco-Friendly Products” blazed across the page of a recent Brandweek article. Wow, I thought. Better read this one. The gist: Two recent surveys suggest consumers aren’t too gung-ho about purchasing environmentally friendly products these days.

When you think about all of the strides consumer product companies have made in recent years, you’ve got to wonder why. I mean think of it: greener product components, greener packaging, more reusing, recycling and repurposing than ever. What’s the problem?

Could it be that a weak economy is bringing consumer issues with environmentally friendly products to the surface now? Seems so.

The surveys cited uncovered the following:

  • Consumer perception that green products are priced higher than conventional ones.

  • Consumer perception that green products may not work as well as conventional ones.

  • Fewer sales by green companies make it less likely consumers will try their products.

  • Most consumers like the idea of doing their bit to help the planet. But their first priority is: What will the product do for me?

For more details from the surveys, please read the Brandweek article.

These findings are very telling. They point out a crucial fact: Companies need to engage in educating the public about their products more intensively, or, as the article succinctly points out: “risk skepticism or irrelevance.” That according to M.J. Jolda, SVP of marketing for Marcal Small Steps.

How true. Green product marketers must change perception. No easy task. They must consider offering periodic sales to encourage consumers to try their products. Lastly, they must educate consumers about the efficacy of their products; how the price is either in the ballpark with the rest of the category, or slightly higher for real and substantive reasons that make sense. Lastly, they must prove to skeptical consumers that using their products will make a demonstrable difference.

All of the claims and education in the world won’t have a big impact until the economy turns around. But, it seems to me, this is an opportune time to launch a new effort aimed at educating and telling a compelling story.

• What do you think of the Green Gauge survey statement that 52% of respondents agreed with: “First comes economic security, then we can worry about environmental problems”? Do you agree?
• Can we balance our economic needs with environmental concerns, even during trying times?
• Do you think this points to a larger problem, regardless of the economy? Are consumers less concerned in reality, than they say they are about the environment?

I’d love to hear from you.

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Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni