THE nation’s top consumer watchdog is keeping a close eye on the new craze of marketing goods and services to the public as clean, green and environmentally friendly.
The latest green marketing techniques have even been embraced by the agriculture industry, with wool, meat and grain boasting lively environmentally-friendly market niches.
But Australian Competition and Consumer Commission commissioner John Martin said there had been a steadily increasing number of inquiries and complaints about green marketing.
“This trend is consistent with the growing trend for business to green market their goods and services,” Mr Martin said.
He said the Trade Practices Act’s consumer protection provisions still applied, no matter what green commodity or service businesses was being supplied.
“In light of the growing number of complaints, the ACCC is taking a closer look at a number of the green claims that are being made at the moment,” he said.
“All businesses need to ensure they are not misleading their customers with such claims.”
Mr Martin said many consumers incorrectly believed green marketing referred solely to the promotion or advertising of products with environmental characteristics.
He said terms such as phosphate free, recyclable, eco friendly, ozone friendly and environmentally friendly were descriptions consumers associated with green marketing.
“Green marketing claims, in the broader concept, are now being applied to consumer and industrial goods, services, corporate and government activities,” he said.
“If there is a green edge to be found, it will be exploited.
“Consumers across the spectrum are becoming more concerned and aware about the natural environment and hence businesses marketing goods with environmental characteristics will have a competitive advantage over businesses which do not.
“Businesses have long since recognised there is a competitive advantage to be had by appealing to the new green awareness of customers.”
New York-based textile sales agency LLC operator Vince Mancini said green marketing were the words on the lips of those in the international textiles industries.
“Green is the new black,” Mr Mancini said.
Customers were asking about textiles which conformed to green ethics, he said.
“Consumers are making more informed choices and they are weighing up ethical, social and personal considerations before making a purchase,” he said.
“There is quite a bit of confusion about what makes a textile ‘green’: for example, is it organic green, is it ecogreen, is it recycled green?
“But what is sure is that it’s increasingly important to consumers that products are made from sustainable resources in a way which is environmentally sound.
“There is an enormous opportunity for wool (to be marketed) as fibre the consumer can believe in.”
Mr Mancini said the quality of Merino wool and the environmental reputation of Australia meant the country had a huge marketing advantage.
Mr Mancini will speak at the Australian Wool Innovation forum, Geelong, November 14.