“ROI washing”, a new phenomenon?

I think that ROI measurement is suffering from a phenomenon that I’d say it’s similar to the so-called ‘green washing‘. According to Wikipedia, green washing refers to the ‘deceptive use of PR in order to promote a misleading perception that a company’s policies or products are environmentally friendly’.

In the ROI case, I’d say ‘ROI washing’ is a new ‘dangerous‘ trend. At my new role as Marketing Manager of the Event ROI Institute, I’m paying close attention to every mention of ROI. And what I’ve been finding is that ROI is being used as an equivalent of ‘value’. Obviously the ROI Methodology is about increasing value, but also much more: evaluating impact, setting objectives, benchmarking, and so on.
I’ve seen so many companies just mentioning ‘by using our product, you’ll increase your ROI’. But are they assuming the client is measuring the impact? Or are they providing any kind of metrics?

I expect that every for-profit company provides an increase of my ‘ROI’, if not why are they doing business?  However, I think this wording is misleading and it’s ultimately a shame if this means they’re not going to take advantage of all the other benefits that ROI measurement has.

Do you also think ‘ROI washing’ is a new phenomenon, or this is all non-sense? Is it good or is it counterproductive that ROI is included in marketing communications in such ‘unconscious’ way? Or is it me that I’m making false assumptions?



2 responses to ““ROI washing”, a new phenomenon?

  1. Hello Rosa – I like your thought on the topic of ROI in the events industry.

    In times of recession, events organisers have always struggled to find a way to demonstrate the value of their profession. I believe this is the main reason why, nowadays, many for-profit event companies are doing “ROI washing”. They know what events planners need most – a financial justification for what they are doing.

    With this in mind, do you think that for-profit event companies are not able to sell their services or do you think their services aren’t providing enough metrics?



  2. Ciao Filippo!
    Thanks for your input, you’ve made a very good observation! I think you’re right, companies need to be reassured that they’re impacting their bottom line.

    Regarding your question, I think event companies might be having a hard time because there is more competition for a ‘smaller piece of cake’ and so they must emphasize how high is the ROI they provide. The ‘problem’ I see is that, as far as I know, this claim is not based on sound arguments, I’d really like to see what are they measuring to make that statement. That’s why I talk about ‘ROI washing’, because they use this word just for the thrill of it, to speak the language of corporate business, but they aren’t really implementing any ROI methodologies. Does this answer your question??

    Best regards,



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