Let’s Just Stop the Greenwashing Guilt Trip

It’s a new year, a new decade, well into the 21st century … so we basically want the majority of our information online, right? Well, not according to U.S. and Canadian consumers, notes this article in the Porterville Recorder.

Independent research company Toluna, in a survey commissioned by Two Sides, uncovered a few telling stats about us:

  • 68 percent of Americans and Canadians believe print is the most enjoyable way to read books
  • 65 percent of Americans and 59 percent of Canadians prefer to read magazines in print
  • 53 percent of Americans and 49 percent of Canadians prefer to read newspapers in print

It’s pretty clear our leisure time preferences are for print, but what about the business of life? As more companies push digital channels for invoices, bank statements and other important communications, consumers are pushing back.

“… the digital push by many corporate service providers (ex: banks, telecoms, utilities, insurance) appears to be unpopular with many consumers,” notes this article in Two Sides. “82 percent of Canadians and 86 percent of Americans believe they should have the right to choose how they receive their communications (electronically or printed) and a further 66 percent (Canada) to 74 percent (U.S.) agree they should not be charged to receive paper statements.”

It’s not that we don’t care about the environment; the survey showed most consumers are. They are concerned about deforestation (even though U.S. forests are in fact growing thanks to sustainability practices in the industry). Yet in general, we don’t trust those greenwashing claims.

In this blog, I write a lot about understanding your audience and giving them what they want. Successful publishers are tuned in to the audience-first idea. Why is it taking other brands so long to catch up?

The facts are pretty clear; when it comes to how companies communicate with us – especially when it comes to important, personal information – we don’t really trust digital. And we don’t want to be made to feel like we are harming the environment by choosing paper.

It’s time for brands to resolve to listen to their consumers, and deliver information as requested without the guilt trip. Paper and ink is a sustainable commodity and a favored communication channel.