Gaining Trust in Green Advertising

September 22, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised people’s awareness and comprehension on the importance of living sustainably, as well as their interest in businesses that deploy their green marketing activities efficiently. Undoubtedly, there is an urgent need for marketers to establish and sustain trust among consumers.

A study conducted by Associate Professor Dr. Lim Kim Yew and Dr. Ng Chee Pung from the Faculty of Business and Communications at INTI International University, which was also a collaboration with researchers from the Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU), revealed a prevalence of trust among consumers when purchasing eco-labelled products. Meanwhile, consumers were less likely to buy non-eco products when the products focused more on marketing.

It was reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) that household consumption is responsible for about 60% of global emissions and 80% of water pollution. Nonetheless, environmental concerns are becoming more significant to consumers when they intend to purchase.

“As consumers, we are easily swayed by products that appear to be eco-friendly. The sad truth is, most of them are entirely flooded with false claims,” said Dr. Lim.

Based on the research titled “Trust in Green Advertising: Mediating Role of Environmental Involvement,” marketers have been scrambling to make profit due to a surge in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns since the pandemic.

A research conducted by Associate Prof. Dr. Lim Kim Yew and Chee Pung Ng from the Faculty of Business and Communications at INTI International University revealed a prevalence of trust among consumers when purchasing eco-labelled products.

According to Dr. Lim, many businesses were able to achieve long-term profit by producing green products as compared to traditional marketing.

Many local companies had caught attention for their overclaimed eco-friendly products. This practice, known as greenwashing, has been used for years. The research further explained that greenwashing is defined as the process of making a false impression and misleading claims about how companies’ products are more environmentally sound to improve their reputation for sustainability practices.

“While the debate is ongoing to ensure that people are aware of what sustainable development is about, green advertisements are still lacking in truth. Many studies show that consumers who are environmentally conscious are mostly sceptical about these product claims, and consumer purchase intention will be negatively affected,” Dr. Lim explained.

The study also shows that it appears that environmental claims have an impact on consumers’ trust and that the credibility of the advertisement is indeed more important in determining the efficacy of advertising.

Dr. Lim pointed out that although gaining consumer confidence promotes customer-business relationships, greenwashing is not the solution.

“It is commendable for company owners to embrace sustainability, but they must do it properly. We need to gradually reverse the trend, starting now,” he said.

When asked about his hopes for the future of advertising, he said policymakers should revise some of the communication and multimedia content regulations to ensure advertising standards.

“These regulations aim to avoid misleading environmental claims in advertising and communications to ensure the advertising claims are truthful. Society will pass bad judgments on the advertisement for not implementing environmental practices,” concluded Dr. Lim.