Scroll through Instagram, and you’ll notice many brands touting their eco-friendly credentials. There’s an image of Allbirds, which uses sustainable wool to make high-tops, and Adidas, which is using plastic pulled out of the ocean to make running shoes. Blueland sells refillable cleaning spray bottles and tablets of soap that you dissolve in water, to cut down on waste. Grove makes toilet paper out of sustainable bamboo.
Some research suggests that consumers care a lot about how eco-friendly a brand is. A study by the Boston Consulting Group last year found that 75% of consumers surveyed viewed sustainability as extremely or very important. And this might explain why brands are racing to develop innovative eco-friendly alternatives to the status quo. There’s only one problem: Scholars have found that consumers think green products are less effective than their traditional, more polluting counterparts.
Bryan Ursey, a professor at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Business School, recently published a study in the Journal of Advertising. He found that when a brand highlights the sustainable attributes of a product, consumers think that the implicit message is that the product will perform worse than its less sustainable counterpart. He did this by conducting a study in which he recruited 253 American consumers to assess two ads for laundry detergent, one that had a label that said that it was sustainable and 100% eco-friendly