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European’s Commission Study on different options for communicating environmental information for products- Results 2012-04-10 - No Comments

The communication of environmental information to consumers aims to change their behaviours by making them think smarter and take more sustainable decisions. In order to have an impact and achieve this objective, three main conditions have to be met:
1. Adequate knowledge has to be available
2. Positive attitude to change
3. Access to sufficiently attractive alternatives.

The study on different options for communicating environmental information for products focuses on the first condition. Even though there is actually a significant amount of environmental information available, consumers criticise the lack of information. Therefore, there is an existent necessity of improving the communication of environmental information.

The study is based on a survey carried out in Poland, Italy and Sweden. 1500 participants (500 from each country) were chosen according to their socio-demographic characteristics (gender, age, occupation of the respondent, market size and region) in order to represent the general population.

The questionnaire is built in two parts: the first one comprises questions concerning the general understanding of product environmental information. 57% of the participants affirm that they understand the concept of “the environmental impact of a product”. 38% declare having heard about the expression but are not familiar with it.

The second part involves a test on specific label designs. The majority of the respondents would prefer this information on the product or on the shelves next to the product. In other words, they prefer having this information available at the moment of the decision making rather than looking it up on a website or through a Smartphone.

In addition, the importance of labelling depends on the type of product: the broad majority would like to see labels on food and cosmetics,given that consumers connect the notion of “environmental” with “health”. However, they do not attach such importance to the label when buying toys, electronics or clothes as they do not associate their decision with the environment.

It is important to notice that consumers want a clear, obvious and direct label which will allow an easy comparison with other products.  The language is therefore very important when communicating environmental information. For example, consumers prefer a colour-coded scale with “better” and “worse” rather than “less impact” and “more impact”. In general, the population expect this kind of label. Only 4% of the participants are strongly opposed to it. The complete report is available here.



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