The misleading eco-marketing

Environment_And_Packaging_20190320_001The high-flying words in the marketing industry have always been an important part of marketing strategies. Early beginnings of marketing ads have been orientated on the product and what the product does for you. The expansion of consumerism, which has started a decade after second World War, and has escalated dramatically after the end of Cold War, pushed marketing strategies to the fringes of what still relates to the product.

It has expanded and is covering multiple other levels. Everyone talks about that the brand itself is more important than the product. Even though this is true to a certain extent, it is a lot more interconnected than that. If the market is satisfied with a certain product, the market recognizes the brand. And if the brand has enough satisfying products, then the brand trust grows. Once the brand is well recognized it needs to stay on the same (if not better) quality with the products, or they swiftly lose their audience.

Marketing experts can explain this far more into detail, I admit, I do know the basis of it. In any case, there is a simple truth is that the marketing industry (the businesses that sell marketing solutions) grew into a large and important segment of every economy. Literally every consumer (and business) product (or service) needs to be well presented in any shape or form. From basic leaflets (catalogs, flyers,…) to PR articles in the main media, to well-placed video ads. These info (marketing ads) are then placed across media outlets in the offline traditional press, or online through web activities. The system is clear.

The flood of it all

Environment_And_Packaging_20190320_002Suddenly it seems that we are bombarded with marketing ads. We are living in a consumer-driven environment, and we are bombarded by thousands of marketing slogans throughout the day. Literally everywhere we turn. Everything we do is to some extent “affected” by marketing. Basically, anything we see, hear or feel is branded. Majority of aspects of our lives is somehow associated with a certain brand or product. I am not talking only about the products or services that are in a private business segment domain, but also about public funded affairs as well.

Initial problem(s) occur in many aspects of marketing. First and foremost, the environment is infected with marketing slogans and marketing materials. There are more and more initiatives that would like to limit this spread of marketing spaces offline and online. This means that the population is getting fed up by a large number of ads, and the placement of ads on anything and everywhere. That is one aspect.

What relates to this is the fact that we as consumers (or receivers) of these marketing information are over-flooded and have a hard time distinguishing between what is real and what is not. There is simply too many information for the human brain to normally process. What happens is that this overload does exactly the opposite. We have become reluctant to anything that it is being advertised and the ratio cost per view is dramatically dropping.

The interesting situation

Environment_And_Packaging_20190320_003The internet expanded the marketing possibilities and today it is easier to advertise than ever. Contact any of the marketing agencies and you will receive an amazing amount of marketing options by each and every one of them. What is interesting to me (and I guess not to me alone) is that the current highest value per marketing money being used in marketing is by investing into influencers and let them promote your product.

Influencers seem to be the hot topic and everyone wants to be connected with the ones that have a large reach. Any social account that has good followers base is an important influencer. Some influencers are actually living from the incomes that they generate only through their influencing activities. This is great news and it is a natural shift of jobs from one job sector to a new one. On the other side of things, it is a clear sign over what exactly is actually happening in the market. Consumers (still) want to have a human filter that helps them separate the good from bad, the same way as people relied on the past.

The misleading truth

Environment_And_Packaging_20190320_004Where we end up is exactly on the same spot as we did before the expansion of the marketing. The best promotor is someone we trust. Now let’s take a look of that is being advertised in the world. Slogans that are the most attractive are the ones that promise to deal with the issues at hand. One of the current hot topics is environmental protection.

Businesses are competing in who will come with the best environmental slogan in order to bring more revenue for them. This is a logical step. Compete with what works best at a given moment. The problem then occurs if the slogan itself becomes irrelevant, or misused. In environmental and in packaging aspect there are many keywords that are constantly being used and more importantly, misused, and the meaning of the word itself simply lost the purpose.

Sustainability, biodegradability, recyclable, recycled, safe, eco-friendly, are just some of the marketing words that are flying around us on a constant basis. The main point here is that if you just take a bit of your time and look under the surface, you realize that it usually does not actually explain on how does the product (or service) actually relate to the word. In plain terms, the words became a click-bate. The truth is that we as consumers do react to the nice eco-words. More importantly, we do have a certain amount of trust in the words being advertised.

With the constant use of eco-polite wording, we get a bit confused. On one hand, we think that everything is in order (where reports are showing actually something on the contrary), on the other hand, we are losing trust for misuse (because the reports are not aligned with the marketing promise).

The wrong message

Environment_And_Packaging_20190320_005We as consumers are deeply confused (and upset), simply because it is impossible to know what the truth (reality) is. The marketing engines are pushing one story, the media delivers the opposite one, and we all tend to draw conclusions on the basis of what we think we know. Conversations that are being held by an average consumer are alarming. Everyone is blaming packaging as a key problem in our environmental struggles. Packaging and transportation industry that is.

This is simply the effect of the wrong information in the market, as well as lack of general public knowledge access about the packaging. And this, basic packaging information, and simple independent explanation are missing. Even if we disregard the media information (that is presumably looking only for controversial stories, and by that delivering mainly such content to the public), and we dig into the subject we are struck with the wall of contradictory information.

The constant fight between the plastics packaging industry with all others doesn’t get us anywhere close to getting the actual picture. Each and every segment of the packaging industry is constantly promoting itself as the best and the most environmental packaging solution. This means that even if someone takes time and digs deeper, the confusion remains. This is due to the marketing activities of the packaging industry itself. It is logical that each and every business will promote itself in the best way possible. However, it does not paint a clear picture.

The hush reality

Environment_And_Packaging_20190320_006I suggest that you go and ask anyone in the packaging industry and try and ask the off-the-record question: which packaging material is the best for the human race? I can tell you that (if answering truthfully) no one will be able to give you any other answer than – it is impossible to know. Because this is the only and the most honest answer one can get. The only thing that we know today (as oppose to two decades ago) is that we still lose the majority of packaging in the chain-cycle, but we do not have a clear overview of what is better for us.

Food, for example, needs to be packed correctly in order to extend the shelf-life of it. What is better for us in general (looking from the global perspective)? Which materials do less damage to our environment in general? Cut out the plastics or complex packaging laminates, and the city life as such will change dramatically, more food will be wasted, prices will spike, and I could go on and on. I am not orientated pro or against packaging. There is simply not enough information to make a judgment call.

True, there are lots of polymer waste issues out there, and these are caused by the majority of packaging materials (in addition to all other products that present waste). The simple truth is that all packaging materials that have been developed so far are important for us as general consumers. All we need to do is to apply them correctly and then follow and reuse (in the most general form of the meaning) them. The first step we need to do is we need to start pressuring the media, and the marketing agencies to deliver us the right content, the content that would be relevant and up to the point.