Sunday, February 12, 2012

You can only sell 'green' if the public buys it

[NB: I am not the Devil]

With France v Ireland postponed last night, I was in the unfortunate position of having to watch all sorts of guff when Mrs P gleefully commandeered the remote, as followers on Twitter may have noticed.

I mercifully escaped by suggesting a visit to the local Thai restaurant - described by occasional blogger, Al Jahom, as my being "played like a $2 accordion". The git.

Anyhow, it wasn't before seeing this Ecover advert, which came as something of a surprise.

Distinctly lacking seemed to be the eco-message. Isn't that the whole point of the product? 'Feel good' cleaning is something of a euphemistic way of selling something which had previously placed itself firmly at the forefront of the environmental gold rush, isn't it?

Nothing like their previous efforts, for example.

Now, that really was in your face. Surely with the problem now even more incredibly urgent - as we are constantly reminded by environmentalists - there would be far more emphasis on their green credentials, rather than less?

But then - environmentally-grounded or not - a business is a business and will play to the potential buying audience. I suspected that their angle betrayed an understanding that concern over green issues may be waning, especially since Mrs P couldn't remember any previous campaigns by the brand as this turns out to be their first major media push. A re-positioning perhaps?

It appears so.
Clare Allman, Ecover marketing manager, said: “This campaign marks a real step-change in Ecover’s marketing. We are enormously proud of our heritage as the first and genuine ecological cleaning range and needed to convey the ethos of our brand in a powerful way which went beyond the trite ‘green’ claims that we too often see associated with mainstream cleaning brands."
So it was skirted round very carefully instead?
“We wanted to develop a 360° integrated approach which would reach our broader target audience through a variety of channels with tailored messaging that was a world away from the idea of cleaning as a dull, boring, essential task but positioned it instead as something fun and hugely satisfying.”
A roundabout way of saying that they'd rather you didn't solely link them with environmentalism, it seems to me. And it looks like I was right.
There are two reasons why a company like Ecover, Belgian purveyor of green cleaning products, will have suffered in recent years: the economic crisis has forced households to tighten their budgets and switch to cheaper brands and the momentum behind environmental issues has eased after United Nations talks in 2009 failed to secure a global treaty to fight climate change.


With solid financial backing, Ecover was well positioned for the incredible rise of the green movement during the latter part of the last decade. "The consumer had environment on the agenda. You couldn't step outside without hearing about climate change. Green became mainstream," says [Effi Vandevoorde, international communications manager].


According to Vandevoorde, the company has ridden out the crisis because while a typical customer, the woman of the household, has lost her interest in the global climate change issue, she still cares about the health and safety of her immediate environment.
Superb business sense, most definitely, and I sincerely wish them well. They are obviously working out that the public are increasingly seeing through the enviro-scaremongery, as evidence by the British Social Attitudes report just a month before Ecover unveiled their new campaign.
• Since 2000 the number of people prepared to pay higher prices to safeguard the environment has fallen, from 43 to 26 per cent. So too has the proportion willing to pay much higher taxes to protect the environment, from 31 to 22 per cent.

• Support has fallen among all income groups. Just over a third (36 per cent) of those in the highest earning households (in 2010 defined as those with household income of over £44,000) would be willing to pay higher prices to protect the environment, down from 52 per cent in 2000.

The report also finds that people are more sceptical about the credibility of scientific research on global warming:

• Under half the population (43 per cent) currently considers rising temperatures caused by climate change to be very dangerous for the environment, down from 50 per cent in 2000.

• The least likely to see climate change as dangerous were older people (28 per cent), those with no qualifications (28 per cent) and those on the lowest incomes (37 per cent).

• Over a third (37 per cent) think many claims about environmental threats are exaggerated, up from 24 per cent in 2000.
And, do you know, I don't reckon this is a coincidence. Just good, free market-based business. There's no point flogging your product on ideological marketing, when the ideology is becoming fractured and distrusted with every new day.

So. That's a business - one which is instantly linked with green issues, no less - reacting quickly to the downturn in public trust in the environmental movement.

The global supertankers of entrenched public-funded government will take a lot longer to put the brakes on, one suspects. Huhne, or no Huhne.


Martin said...

Another reason why Ecover doesn't do well is because it's useless at cleaning. I tried the laundry liquid once and the clothes come out of the machine the same as they went in, but wetter! And the washing up liquid is only good if you want to see a couple of bubbles in your dirty water.

Anonymous said...

I remember in the early eighties Ben Elton pushing green washing up liquid in the way that only he could. Not in adverts but on his Saturday night "comedy" show. Real in your face stuff berating people who poured evil fairy liquid into the environment. I bought some and found it worse than useless. Rather like his jokes at the time.

john in cheshire said...

F**k the environment and F**k environmental products. They're all crap just like their retard proponents.

Anonymous said...

There is a similar product line here in the US called Method, claims to be green and wonderful and all that lovely tear-jerking stuff to get the indoctrinated to buy at 2x the cost - and it's the same story, it doesn't clean worth a damn - but it makes the indoctrinated believers feel oh-so-good, like at a religious revival meeting, for buying the stuff and leaving it on display in their homes, a green status symbol, the ergonomically designed bottles and all - never mind it doesn't clean.

Blue Eyes said...

You can get all manner of "natural" cleaning products made from sustainable plants and which are biodegradable and all the fluffy warm things which we like. Unfortunately I am allergic to them. It turns out that my health is improved through choosing the apparently nasty dangerous unsustainable industrial products.

Bandit 1 said...

"We wanted to develop a 360° integrated approach which would reach our broader target audience through a variety of channels with tailored messaging that was a world away from the idea of cleaning as a dull, boring, essential task but positioned it instead as something fun and hugely satisfying."

Fuck, but that's some Dilbert-speak.

Dr Evil said...

When I was at school we were made to play rugby in the snow storm and with the pitch frozen. It made men os us. Actually is was bloody disgusting and a bastard way to behave.