Specificity is a vital component of advertising for environmentally friendly, or “green”, products and services, according to a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

In How Claim Specificity Can Improve Claim Credibility in Green Advertising: Measures that Can Boost Outcomes from Environmental-Product Claims, Benjamin Ganz (Digitec Galaxus Ag, a Zurich-based online retailer) and Anthony Grimes (University of Manchester) found that specific claims are more credible than vague claims – a robust effect across a broad range of categories.

Moreover, the study showed, creative execution and selection of media can determine the support consumers give to green propositions.

“Practitioners can expect to gain significant improvements in the perceived credibility of their green claims – and, thus, the effectiveness of their advertising – by developing claims that provide just such precise and meaningful information,” the authors wrote.

Additionally, they reported, “Skepticism toward social and environmental advertising claims effectively can be reduced – and thus the credibility of such claims increased – by the provision of specific information.”

In terms of media selection, the paper proposed: “Green claims might be expected to be more credible when they are delivered via channels that best lend themselves to the provision of detailed and meaningful information, such as print or online.

“Close integration of creative advertising executions with the company’s online platforms, such as via the embedding of QR codes, may facilitate access to the kind of specific and detailed information that consumers are encouraged to seek and that can be expected to increase the perceived credibility of green advertising claims.”

In addition to other characteristics, such as the degree to which a message is objective and substantive, the findings of the study suggested that all companies should consider carefully the degree to which their green claims are specific and the extent to which they outline meaningful benefits by way of detailed information.

Sourced from WARC