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Beyond Organic: The Role of Eco-Labeling and Certification in Sustainable Brand Success

This post was updated on November 12, 2012.

As more and more companies release products designed to appeal to the growing consumer segment that is concerned with where their products come from and how they’re made, conscious shoppers have come to rely on a variety of trusted, recognizable labels and certifications to confirm that their purchases live up to the brand’s promises to be organic, eco-friendly, fair trade, etc.

Ecolabels inform consumers about everything from how a product’s ingredients were sourced to the environmental impact of its use or production to disposal options for its packaging. But is the proliferation of product labels and certifications effective, or is it confusing or overwhelming buyers?

Results of a recent survey by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) showed growing consumer trust in ecolabels worldwide: In the UK and the Netherlands, ecolabels ranked as the most trusted source of information on socially and environmentally responsible goods; labels ranked second to recommendations from friends and family in Japan, Australia, France and the US. Across the 10 countries surveyed, 54 per cent of respondents believe ecolabels are effective in ‘helping bringing changes to environmental/social problems’ and 59 per cent feel ecolabels signify products that cause less impact on the environment (up from 52 per cent in 2010). The research also reveals that the presence of an ecolabel continues to improve consumers’ perception of the host brand; 44 per cent of consumers reported a higher level of trust for brands that use ecolabels (up from 40 per cent in 2010).

This appreciation of transparency with regard to consumer products can only increase the number of brands who increase their standards in order to remain competitive. And as the debate over “to label or not to label” genetically modified foods continues to rage, it will be interesting to see how last week's defeat of Prop 37 in California could influence labeling legislation in the US going forward.

Join us on Wednesday, November 28, as a stellar lineup of panelists with various perspectives on the topic will examine The Role of Eco-Labeling and Certification in Sustainable Brand Success at the SB London Conference. The panel will discuss results of a recent brand sentiment exploration on the topic, lessons learned and implications of California's election outcome for the rest of the world.


Rob Cameron (moderator), Executive Director, SustainAbility

Nestor Coronado Palma, Senior Sustainable Business Development and Supply Chain Management, Philips

Alex Cole, Corporate Affairs Director, Sainsbury's

Bill Eyres, Head of Sustainability, O2


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