Green Printing

Is All Green, All The Time, Suddenly Too Much?

Consumers want to be sure that it's all about the green, not the green.

A recent series of studies indicate that consumers may be feeling overwhelmed by the sudden wave of green printing, advertising, and product placement that has flooded the market over the last couple of years.

The transition has been dramatic. Much of the push behind eco-conscious living is about making change NOW, instead of waiting for things to get really bad. The problem, according to the studies conducted by the Shelton Group and Porter Novelli, is that so many new products and options are being pushed. Consumers feel that they don't have the time or the budget to do them all, so why bother?

As a green printer, it's easy to understand where the average consumer is coming from. Being responsible about how we print at Hotcards means making changes to almost every facet of our business: inks and paper have to be changed, new machines to be invested in, best practices implemented around the workplace, and you even have to think about working with suppliers that are similarly committed to environmental stewardship.

Like green printing, green living is a major change – consumers feel bombarded from all corners by advertising for recycled products, organic foods and materials, hybrid vehicles, composting and solar power in the household, and even eco-friendly tourism.

The Shelton Group and Porter Novelli studies that I read claimed that consumers have an all-or-nothing attitude about green living. If they can't do it all, many don't see the point of doing anything. Marketing experts say that while the majority of us lag behind, a few pioneers, or (shudder) 'greenfluencers,' will pave the way. It will be these folks, and not advertisers, who determine what the lasting trends will be.

But I think the real chasm between green advertisers and consumers is skepticism at the sincerity of marketing practices. We say that green printing is trying to inform people about making greener choices, but consumers are wary that advertisers don't care; they just want to make money, right?

It will be the green print advertiser's challenge to ride out this period of skepticism. It might cost more, it might affect bottom lines, but if we're serious about changing the world, and not just making another quick buck, we'll tow the line until the bulk of consumers come around.

Two years into the green revolution, and we're already talking about why it doesn't work. I'm not interested in studies that declare doom and gloom. I'm interested in people, businesses, and advertisers that want to make an effort.

How about you?

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Green Printing 08.07.2008

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