P&G and selling green consumer goods

I saw Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald speak at the Wall Street Journal Eco:Nomics Conference last year and one of the issues he talked about was getting people who didn’t ordinarily care about sustainability and the environment to pay a premium for green products. This is a major issue in consumer products right now, particularly given that P&G has made a long term pledge to source 100 percent renewable energy for its operations and use 100 percent renewable or recycled products for its products and packaging.

I came across the following skit about 3 obnoxious and affluent “green housewives,” that turned out to be an advertisement for P&G’s line of green cleaning products, Clorox Green Works.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUE5a-k1quk]

The advertisement is both irritating and insightful, pointing out the guilt and anxiety that infects a lot of consumers in their efforts to be the most green. If there’s anything poignant about the ad, it’s that fear is motivating a lot of consumer purchasing of green household goods. Some of that isn’t all bad. There probably are chemicals in traditional cleaning products that you might not want your kids exposed to. And look at the effects of the early studies (which have been hard to replicate) of Bisphenol A (BPA) indicating a link between endocrine disruption and BPA, and the resulting dropping of BPA from many consumer plastics.
But fear’s unlikely to get a larger swath of the population motivated to go green, and on a subtle level that’s what the Clorox Green Works ad is getting at, that you can go green without being afraid or neurotic. You can buy green products because they might have additional value. That’s the idea, anyway.