Green Advertising Really Grows On Today’s Eco-Conscious Consumers

72% of consumers say brands should be environmentally responsible. Here’s how marketers can get that message across.

As we celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day this week, it’s important for advertisers to understand that environmental concerns are growing more important to consumers and even influence how many of them respond to brands and their messages. Indeed, green advertising is on the rise as marketers try to court eco-conscious consumers with ads promoting everything from the “greenness” of a product to a brand’s corporate dedication to environmental responsibility. To better understand green advertising and how to use it, here’s a look at the demographics of eco-conscious consumers; how they feel about environmentally responsible brands; and some best practices and great examples of successful green marketing.

Environmental concern crosses all demographics

Think environmental issues matter mainly to the young? A study by DDB Worldwide found that 72% of all respondents said it was important to them that a brand ensures its business practices are both environmentally and socially responsible. It turns out that baby boomers are just as green-focused as millennials, if not more:

  • 87% of boomers said recycling is vitally important, compared to 81% of millennials

  • 84% of boomers said protecting the ecosystem was important, versus 82% of millennials

Consumers hold responsible companies in higher regard

Consumers respond positively to advertising that clearly and accurately conveys a brand’s environmental and social responsibility. A recent study by Cone Communications found 71% of American consumers consider the environment when they shop---a record high, up from 66% in 2008. And 45% said they actively seek out environmental information on the products they buy.

Supplying consumers with that information could make all the difference in green advertising. In a survey by Hill+Knowlton, 83% of consumers said they would be more inclined to trust a business that has greater visibility and transparency into environmental matters. And 29% said such action would make them trust that firm a "great deal" more.

Some great examples of green advertising

What kinds of green advertising takes root with consumers? In that Hill+Knowlton survey, the vast majority (81%) favored an ongoing conversation with the brand through regular sharing of green-themed content on websites and through social media.

In light of that, brands can take their cue from some advertisers that have engaged in social green marketing. Take Coca-Cola for instance. The beverage giant has taken to Tumblr to engage its eco-conscious followers. One recent post depicts a caricature of Earth flexing its muscles with a caption "Best Planet Ever."

In another use of social Earth Day advertising, Scope mouthwash tweeted a picture of an empty Scope bottle being used to grow plants---a simple and thought-provoking ad that hit on all the things green marketing should do.

Brands can also have some fun with green advertising, like Burt's Bees, which crafted a wonderfully complex and inspiring ad to celebrate Earth Day, making beautiful music using only natural “instruments” including leaves, branches, bees, and bark.

The bottom line is, sustainability is here to stay. Advertisers should continue to emphasize environmental responsibility through marketing as the ranks of eco-conscious consumers keep growing. Whether it's something social, like this great Target spot, or something larger, like Ford's documentary initiative, green advertising can really resonate with today’s consumers.