CONSEQUENCES OF GREEN WASHING

1.0 Introduction
The concept of green washing is used to refer to a practice of marketing makeover where a product or an activity is presented as more environment friendly than what it is in actual sense. According to Information Resources Management Association. (2015 p1043), green washing may also involve attempts to make a product with adverse effects on the environment to appear as environment friendly. A survey conducted by Delmas 2011 in which declared green products were reviewed, it was established that 99 percent of the products had indications of green wash.
1.1 Importance of the Topic
As a result of increased awareness on environmental issues due to various environment movement activities, consumers and manufactures have now focused their attention towards environment friendly products. Consequently, as May (2007 p 374) observes, manufactures are embracing ecofriendly friendly practices but a majority of others adjust their practices by only attaching green or environment friendly advertisements on their products so as to be more appealing to customers leading a green lifestyle. The topic will therefore help in giving insight into current techniques employed in green washing.
1.2 The Purpose
Since the studies regarding the impacts of green washing on consumers remain limited. The purpose of this report is to review the existing literature on the latest issues on green washing practice as well as assessing the various impacts of green washing on consumers and business organizations.
1.3 Scope
Scope of the study shall encompass analyzing literature with newest issues on effects of green washing on organization and consumers. However, the different ways through which green washing impacts on environment is not included.
2.0 Literature Review
In this age of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), processing and manufacturing organizations have realized the need to promote social and environmental performance. This is because CSR requires organizations to positively contribute to the wellbeing of society in which they operate by lowering environmental impacts that might arise from t their operations. According to Mahoney (2013 p.350), the policy of CSR has three basic motives which include contributing to the well-being of society, generating financial benefits among other benefits and aligning its operations in a way that meets social expectations. As the scholar observes, organizations that comply with CSR policies enjoy numerous benefits which includes establishing a better reputation that promotes both consumer loyalty and purchase intentions. As Mahoney indicates, organizations also believe that ignoring issues raised in CSR policy would put business success at risk.
As a result of the benefits associated with green products and environment friendly operations, green washing has emerged where manufactures mislead consumers on environmental benefits associated with given products. As Delmas (87) .indicates, manufactures have engaged in attaching better environmental performance to given products as opposed to what the actual environmental behavior of the product justifies. To succeed in green washing, organizations have attached ambiguous labels with misleading environmental claims with intension of consuming customers that their products are environment friendly yet they are not. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the United States identified ambiguous labels with deceptive ads used by such organizations. Some of the labels bore the characteristics such lacking clarity therefore subjecting consumers to multiple interpretations, some labels often lack relevant information or contain wrong information altogether. Presently, there is a rising number of consumers who continue to report inconsistency between what a product claims and the actual behavior of such product in regard to environmental impact.
2.1 Effects of Green Washing
As Lim (2013 p. 14) indicates, companies that mislead consumer with false green advertising are at a great risk of losing their competitiveness due to negative perceptions that the consumer may develop of their products. For instance, a consumer may respond to a green washing practice by perceiving deception in such an organization. It implies that the buyer will feel cheated therefore making them not to readily accept goods and services from such organization in the future. Nevertheless, the scholars indicate that the consumer may also perceive skepticism which is a feeling of distrust in a company’s compliance levels with CSR. Lim (14) describes a study they undertook with the aim of examining effects of green washing in regard to how consumers perceived organizations believed to be running misleading green advertisements. Research participants were subjected to advertisement of products perceived to be having a misleading green-claim. The findings of the study revealed that a majority of the respondents perceived deception and as a result developed negative opinion concerning the company’s credibility. Lim et al. (2013) also describes a qualitative study they undertook with the aim of investigating reactions of consumers after confirming green claims to be green washing. The study revealed that consumers are never certain about green washing claims. However, in the event that they find evidence of green washing, they become distrustful of not only the product but also of other green products in general. What is more, the study findings revealed that these consumers were always eager to spread the word on the discovery of green washing practices.
2.2 Synthesis and Discussion
The analysis of literature on impacts of green washing reveals that the practice does not impact positively on organizations. This is because, once consumer becomes aware of the practice, their skepticism is evoked which in turn influences their intention to purchase such product. Besides, satisfaction of consumer demands is often regarded as the ultimate contributor to business success. Therefore, it is necessary that managers do everything within their power to comply with the policies of Corporate Social Responsibility. They must put in place comprehensive green programs to enable them make true green claims. Besides, the organizations that have already practiced green washing must adopt green practices immediately and seek third party certification. The role of the third party would be to oversee if the organization meets specific standard and help in promoting the organization’s credibility in the eyes of the consumers. The study reveals that organizations that embrace green practices on the other hand enjoy numerous benefits which include the potential to grow and succeed since their products have the potential to satisfy both customer and stake holder needs. This motivates consumers to keep purchasing such products due to positive perception that shall have been cultivated.
Similarly adoption of robust green practices will promote social acceptability of the company. This is because, as an organization aligns its operations in a manner that they meet the CSR policies, consumer will readily accept such products and many consumers will start opting for the company’s products and services. On the contrary, scrutiny and skepticism shall be directed to green washing corporations which limit their productivity. What is more, organizations that embrace green practices seem to be sustainable since they are unlikely to be found on the wrong side of the law. This makes the operations of such organizations to be stable and become more preferred among consumers.
3.0 Conclusion
In this study, a focus has been made on a number lo literatures that tackle the impacts of green washing on consumers. The findings have clearly demonstrated that green washing strategy impacts negatively on consumers and organizations due to the influence they have in increasing negative perception such as deception and skepticism among the consumers. These companies that issue misleading organization on environment friendliness of their operations and products therefore run the risk losing their customers since consumers will feel cheated. Consequently, for consumers not to fall victims of green washing, it their responsibility to familiarize themselves with the skills being used by the green washing companies as stipulated by The Federal Trade Commission. For instance, they should be conversant with all the techniques organizations use to disguise their products such as using ambiguous statements and other terminologies which are snot easily understood. Nevertheless, consumers should incorporate social media to highlight various green washing activities they come across to discourage the vice.

List of References
Delmas, Magali A., and Vanessa Cuerel Burbano, 2011. “The drivers of greenwashing.” California Management Review 54, no. 1: 64-87.
Information Resources Management Association, 2015. Marketing and consumer behavior: concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=947937.
Lim, W. M., Ting, D. H., Bonaventure, V. S., Sendiawan, A. P., and Tanusina, P. P., 2013. What happens when consumers realise about green washing? A qualitative investigation. International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 13, 14–24.
May, Steve, George Cheney, and Juliet Roper, 2007. The debate over corporate social responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://www.dawsonera.com/depp/reader/protected/external/AbstractView/S9780198039761.
Mahoney, Lois S., Linda Thorne, Lianna Cecil, and William LaGore, 2013. “A research note on standalone corporate social responsibility reports: Signaling or greenwashing?” Critical perspectives on Accounting 24, no. 4-5 350-359.

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