‘Green’ Products Losing Their Appeal

Advertising Age, via MSNBC.com:

NEW YORK – Green marketing, a movement so hot that not even a deep recession could kill it, is starting to show signs of consumer revolt. At the very least, it’s a signal that green alone isn’t enough of a marketing proposition; at most, it could signal consumers simply aren’t buying the benefits of environmentally positioned products and brands.

In recent months, sales have begun to slow in categories such as green cleaners and grow in not-so-sustainable ones like bottled water as shoppers decide they may not be worth the tradeoff. And a September study showed big swings in the number of consumers who believe environmentally friendly alternatives are too expensive, don’t work as well as other products and aren’t actually better for the environment — all of which seem to add up to what Timothy Kenyon, director of the GfK Roper Green Gauge study calls “green fatigue.”

Take bottled water, long the nemesis of environmentalists. It was on track for another 52 weeks of decline but rallied nationally last quarter as sales rose 4 percent, according to SymphonyIRI, leaving it flat. Meanwhile, water-filtration devices saw years of double- and high-single-digit sales growth (including a double-digit sales hike in the first half of 2010) turn into a sales decline last quarter, according to IRI data from Deutsche Bank.

Then there’s Frito-Lay, which last month pulled its compostable SunChips after complaints about how noisy they were. Greener cleaners, which had been one of the hottest trends in household products in recent years, also show signs of a shakeout. Clorox Chief Operating Officer Larry Peiros attributed disappointing top-line results in a Nov. 3 conference call to a decline in the natural cleaning segment. “We remain,” he said, “in the No. 1 share position, but we’re declining pretty much along with the category.”

The rest here.

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