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Jul 28th

How to promote your companys green side

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Better Business Bureau of Minnesota & North Dakota

Socially conscious" shopping goals drive 54 percent of older Americans according to a recent survey by AARP. This means more than 40 million baby boomers are also "green boomers" who say they are more likely to purchase environmentally-friendly products and use services from companies that are socially responsible. "Socially conscious" shopping goals drive 54 percent of older Americans according to a recent survey by AARP. This means more than 40 million baby boomers are also "green boomers" who say they are more likely to purchase environmentally-friendly products and use services from companies that are socially responsible. Older Americans also make up the most affluent segment of the U.S. population and have the most discretionary income - $24,000 a year per household - according to The Conference Board. Given these facts, Better Business Bureau offers advice to help guide your company's social responsibility efforts to boomers and other consumers.

Interestingly, baby boomers are increasingly turning to online and mobile channels to research companies and comparison shop for a wide variety of products and services such as health and wellness information, travel and entertainment, real estate, and financial services. A recent report from eMarketer notes that baby boomers and silver surfers, or over-60s, are also becoming more interested in online news and user-generated content as well.

"Many green marketing efforts are designed to cater to younger and more active consumers of products, services and media," said Bert Hubbell, President and CEO of the BBB serving Minnesota and North Dakota. "However, businesses need to remember that both boomers and millennials have lots of money to spend, and focusing green marketing on the younger demographic to the exclusion of boomers could be a very expensive mistake."

Whether baby boomers or the younger generation of millennial, the consumer trend of caring about the impact of personal spending on the global stage is expected to spread. A recent survey by the marketing firm Tiller found that among all ages surveyed, 49 percent said they would aim to be greener in 2008.

Many products advertised as "green" or "organic" can sway purchasing decisions, but companies can also position themselves as socially conscious at a corporate level to attract customers. Such position begs the question though, what does it mean to be green and how can you communicate it in your advertising?

To help promote your company's green efforts to all audiences, BBB offers the following advice for making "green" claims in advertising and marketing:

Tell the truth. A recent study by a Canadian-based marketing firm found that many products aren't as earth-friendly as they say they are. While most products reviewed made exaggerated claims, a few carried outright lies - mostly involving supposed certification from watchdog organizations. Few things destroy a company's credibility with consumers faster than false advertising - tell the truth in all marketing efforts.

Make concrete claims. An honest advertiser will not make vague statements such as "environmentally friendly" or "sustainable" without providing solid examples to back up the claim. If your packaging is made from recycled paper, then say so. If your company has reduced energy costs, then brag about! Making fuzzy claims, however, can get you into trouble with any and all consumer segments.

Provide evidence. Being a green company isn't just about putting a recycling bin by the copier. You also need to be able to explain how you're making the world a better place. Consider creative ways of quantifying your company's impact such as: How many hours have your employees volunteered? Who has benefited and how have they benefited from your firm's efforts.

Get a stamp of approval. While there is no universal "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" for green claims, there are independent third-party organizations
 

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