Buzzwords aren’t the only trigger that causes us to buy. On a subconscious psychological level, we process visuals faster than words. From the simple colour palette choices through to visual images of nature, we associate certain colours and images with associative perceptions.
In an appropriately titled study called “Impact of Color in Marketing”, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on colour alone (depending on the product).
For this reason, many brands vying for the natural skincare space use hues of green to evoke the perception of sustainability and brown hues for its perception of nature.
«People see ‘environmentally friendly,’ or ‘green,’ or they see a recyclable symbol, and they jump to all kinds of conclusions.»
As customers, we tend to also place more importance on brand recognition than we perhaps should, these subtle subconscious cues are an effective way to have your product perceived as something it is not.
How do we fix it?
“Fine, we get it,” I hear you saying. With time a limited resource and a sea of products striving for your attention, we all take mental shortcuts.
If you are a sucker for a green or brown label on a skincare product claiming to be “natural”, “organic”, “botanical” or many other ‘buzzwords’, you’ve probably been a victim of Greenwashing – a manipulative practice in which companies mislead their customers into thinking they are “green” when in fact they are not.
Brands are vying to keep up with the ‘green’ trend but they’re not necessarily going about it the right way. They’re investing in smarter marketing, but not necessarily creating smarter skincare.
In the short-term, being aware that you’re trusting a product just because its plastic wrap is green is a good start. In the long term, truly separating what makes a company truly green is the best way to go.
And at the end of the day, bear in mind that all green marketing techniques—be they buzzwords, images of happy animals on pastoral farms, or the shade of mocha & fir green—are an appeal to your altruism, your ego, or your sense of social identity. That doesn’t make these products bad. But it should make you think.