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Consumers Seeking Uniform Messaging Across Industries

An outfit from the Marc Jacobs 2011 resort collection. What size would you wear? Photo: Courtesy of Marc Jacobs

New green guidelines are on the way. As we reported back in October, the Federal Trade Commission is in the process of revising the “Green Guides,” which set the standard on eco-friendly and sustainable messaging that brands can use to promote their wares. Today, USA Today reports that new standards are coming on May 10. Any product carrying the Energy Star logo will soon have to be tested by a third-party to guarantee its energy claims.

The goal is to clarify and strengthen various sustainability terms commonly found in the marketplace. “Customers and retailers have gotten frustrated,” said Scot Case, who works with products testing company UL Environment.

Speaking with a uniform message isn’t just important to individual brands and organizations. Industries also need to use language that clearly communicates to consumers what they’re buying into and what issues buyers should be aware of.

Calorie counts have just started to appear on beverage packaging and a $50 million education campaign (handled by BBDO New York, FoodMinds, Edelman, and others) will launch in the fall. The goal, according to a Food Marketing Institute fact sheet, will provide shoppers with information that will “ensur[e] that consumers receive consistent and reliable information.”

The New York Times tackles the issue clarity and consistency in fashion, with a look at the huge differences in sizes in women’s fashions. Dubbed “vanity sizing” it means that a woman who wore a size 12 some years ago could now be wearing an 8. Or, even better: “Take a woman with a 27-inch waist. In Marc Jacobs’s high-end line, she is between an 8 and a 10. At Chico’s, she is a triple 0.” Companies and brands are taking steps to make the process easier and less “demoralizing,” the story says.

Many industries don’t have a fixed standard that companies must adhere to, but these examples show that brands must do away with spin and use upfront, plain-speaking in everyday marketing and communicating.

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