CSPA ANNUAL MEETING
To rectify the situation, Johnson offered four solutions on how
companies can combat this growing distrust among consumers.
First, make sure your own house is in order. SC Johnson, for
example, regularly reviews its products and eliminates “bad actors” regardless of cost. For example, the company eliminated
chlorine from its Saran Wrap product. The result was a less effec-tive“cling” that has hurt the brand’s market share, but as Johnson
pointed out, it was the right thing to do.
Second, be transparent. Even in the age of the internet, consumers read product labels, Johnson insisted. And while suppliers
and marketers complain about the loss of intellectual property,
Johnson explained how his company works with partners to iron
out an array IP issues. Most recently, SC Johnson whittled its list
of 3,500 fragrance components down to 1,300 ingredients. But
even if companies do the right thing, that doesn’t make them immune from NGOs and other interest groups, he warned.
Third, eliminate greenwashing. Marketers make too many
vague or misleading claims about their products that only mislead consumers and damage the trust they have in a company
and its products. Terms such as“non-toxic” is vague and meaningless, he noted, as everything is toxic at the wrong level—even
air and water.
“Natural ingredients aren’t all safe; the claim is not supported
by the science,” he charged.
Johnson admitted that his own company got caught up in
greenwashing when it placed an in-house“GreenList” label on
several products. After outside groups complained that the label
was misleading because it wasn’t awarded by an impartial third-party, SC Johnson removed the label from its products.
Four, advocate for better regulations. Like CSPA executives, he
called for Congress to pass the TSCA Modernization bill. Johnson
urged industry to come together and support TSCA reform, noting that it is in the best interest of the public and ultimately, the
companies and products that come under its charge.
“My great-grandfather had a saying,” recalled Johnson. “‘The
goodwill of people is the only enduring thing in any business. It
is the sole substance. The rest is shadow.’”
By coming out of the shadows, by being transparent, chemi-
cal specialty product marketers and their suppliers can win over
Opportunities in Air Care?
A healthy body and a healthy environment go hand-in-hand.
That’s the belief of 74% of Americans, according to results of a
consumer study conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute.
But what’s healthy for one consumer may not jibe with another,
according to Steve French of NMI. That’s because consumers can
be divided into five distinct groups ranging from LOHAS (11% of
the population) all the way to Unconcerned (17%). Unfortunately,
they all do share one thing in common—fear.
“The average American is fearful about everything they do,
from getting on airplanes to genetically-modified organisms,”
insisted French.“They have a fear of‘what’s in my stuff?’”
For example, 28% are concerned about chemicals in laundry
products, 31% about indoor air quality and 39% about chemicals
in their personal care products. Indoor air quality is of greatest
concern to consumers in the LOHAS group, as well as middle-of-
the-road conventional types. So what can air care marketers and
their suppliers do to win over these worried consumers? They can
start by making sure their products are minimally packaged as
74% of consumers say FMCG are overpackaged. Similarly, com-
panies should look to use biodegradable and recycled packaging
whenever possible, advised French.
Another way to boost fragrance sales is to reduce product
complexity. He suggested emphasizing reed diffusers and intro-
ducing potpourri that consumers can put in a pot of water and
boil on the stove to release scent.
“Consumers tell us that they live stressful lives and are look-
ing for ways to simplify them,” he explained, pointing out the
craft brew trend has taken the US by storm and that there may be
similar opportunities for craft environmental fragrances.
And to appease these stressed out folks even more, French
suggested formulators develop fragrance systems that act as de-
livery systems for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients or sys-
tems that help consumers get a good night’s sleep.
Finally, he reminded attendees that what a company stands
for is as important as what it sells in today’s world of Corporate
Social Responsibility, and he urged companies to make CSR a
part of their business model.
“Consumers want to support companies that have the same
level of responsibility and commitment that they do,” French
The good news for the air care industry is that media cover-
age has been generally positive during the past year, according
to a study conducted by CSPA, Communications Vice President
Erin Donovan and Manager Rachel Boehm tracked thousands
of mentions in traditional and social media during the past year
and found that 20% of them were positive, 70% neutral and 10%
negative, and of these, only three were extremely negative toward
“There are opportunities to address coverage in the middle,”
concluded Donovan. “The conversation is not as negative as we
feared. We have a real opportunity here.
Therefore, the Air Care Division will decide what’s next
whether that means retaining the status quo, filling the void in
the middle or aggressively targeting the negative reports.
But in order to reach the middle and change the story, you
have to write the story and address it to the right audience, ob-
“Whom should we address?” she asked.“The Hill staff? News
The staff will continue to work with Air Care Division members to answer that question and perhaps fund a study to demonstrate the benefits of its products. •