Johnson & Johnson's Strides Toward Sustainable Healthcare

Clark: How did you get buy-in?

Iannuzzi: Simple. We are responding to the demands of the marketplace. This is all market-driven, not compliance driven. The key is to help the business units see the benefits to developing and marketing greener products. It's easy when you can show data that your customers are asking for this.

Clark: What's your take on greenwashing?

Iannuzzi: I don't believe in green products but greener products. The only truly green product is the one you don't use. So it's a journey and when we have made real product improvements -- we should let our customers know. You can be perceived as greenwashing when you overstate improvements. We give training to our marketers to make sure they avoid greenwashing.

Clark: For example, if agriculture is found to be the most environmentally intensive part of a product, is it irresponsible to tout green packaging?

Iannuzzi: When you start making more of a green claim than it is, that is irresponsible. But making a product better in any way is still an improvement, and that's what we should be encouraging our development teams to do. The key is to be clear in communicating the nature of the improvement without overstating it.

Sustainability is a journey that includes a wide range of issues. Things we will have to address in the upcoming years may not even be thought of today. It's an evolving improvement process.

Al Iannuzzi's Green Marketing Tips

Al Iannuzzi will be sharing more on this case study and others in his upcoming book on developing and marketing greener products. Here are a few more insights you can expect from him:

Research. Think about making improvements in the areas that have the greatest impact for your product. For example, P&G realized that the greatest impact for their laundry detergent was the hot water used to wash clothes. They responded by developing a detergent that works in cold water.

Cause marketing. Find the right cause that best fits your brand's mission. Häagen-Dazs supports research to protect the honey bee population, which is directly connected to their brand.

Communications matters in sustainability. The EARTHWARDS process helps to drive meaningful communication about sustainability. Determine your end market and create scorecards and tools that help your company develop appropriate communications on improvements. Meet customers' sustainability needs. In B2B marketing, be sure to understand what your customer's goals are and meet them with your products.

Don't get hung up on labels. Consumers recognize but a handful of eco-labels, although there are hundreds. Eco-labels serve a good purpose, but it's more important to have a greener product story with demonstrated improvements than an eco-label.

Image Credit: An array of vintage to present-day Johnson & Johnson products with company credo, courtesy of Johnson & Johnson via jnj.com.