The sales of ‘green’ products have been shrinking during the latter half of 2010. In 2008, marketers scrambled to add some element of environmentalism to their products. Most did it with packaging (recycled, less product, etc.), while others addressed manufacturing methods that claimed a smaller carbon footprint. Other products that truly were more inherently environmental sprang up and have created a niche industry. Example: Method cleaning products.
Why is the category shrinking? Consumers tried the products and found no new benefit in many of the products themselves - sometimes less benefit than their counterparts. In the end, we have lots of companies who have some sort of commitment to environmentalism (great!), and plenty of confused brands (bad!). Companies that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars building and reinforcing their brand position suddenly tossed that aside to jump on the green bandwagon. But as the parade winds down, a brand still has to have value. And like it or not, the American public is putting less value in green today than they did two years ago. In other words, I still want my laundry detergent to clean my clothes, keep the colors bright, and maybe soften them a little. If it’s green too, fine. But, if it’s only green? Well, I’ll find another that does the job. Take care of the brand and it will take care of you.