Tag Archives: ecolabel

Italians and sustainability in the retail business: the buzz is online!

Italians speak about sustainability online.This is the result of a recent survey led by Blogmeter from October 1st, 2010 to January 31st, 2011 recording approximately more than 9 thousand post about environmental sustainability related to the major retail chains. Social media proved to be the ideal and most followed communication tool  to promote eco- initiatives, facilitating the construction of  a real “green image” for the retail business sector.

Retailers mentioned by Italians on online conversations about sustainability

When it comes to environmental sustainability Coop and Ikea and are the most discussed with over 40% of the citations. This happened for example with the Sportello Ambiente initiative,  a collaboration between Ikea and Legambiente to offer advice to consumers about home energy efficiency, and with the Coop campaign to promote the consumption of tap water in place of the bottled one.

In general, web users are showing an increaside sensitivity to organic and low-
environmental impact products:  in the online communities dedicated to women, users positively report about the presence of automatic distributors to refill detergents inside the supermarket. Retailers brands are the most mentioned ones, most widely quoted and commented by users because always available on the shelf – like Esselunga Bio, Bio of Auchan, Coop Viviverde. Lidl, for example, is particularly discussed for its range of ecological detergents W5 (on 42 over 199 posts mentioning the retailer) considered to be of good quality and highly recommended among users.

The network also tells us that attention to a more responsible consumption is steadily increasing and influencing the purchase process in different ways: users are more sensitive to labels and the presence of the Ecolabel certification is considered increasingly important for those who are looking for products with a low environmental impact.

The research also showed that a balanced relationship between quality and price of organic and /or eco products is a key criterion in the buying process: very often consumers who are interested in green products do desist because selling prices are too high. (Source: GDO Week)

Green labels: are EU consumers confused about them?

It all started with an article about green packaging, where there was a sentence regarding the the Green Guides (US Federal Trade Commission): "65 percent of Americans would prefer just one seal for green products over the hundreds that are now causing confusion. They note that it is increasingly hard to determine if a product is "truly green" or not based on available information. They are presently overwhelmed with the 350 product certifications that currently exist".

In Europe, consumers for sure know about Ecolabel and EnergyStar and…what else? I have made a very quick search on the web about the online resources available to consumers willing to understand a little bit more about "green labels". I did not find anything that is both comprehensive and easy to understand – the best resource being this PDF which is only related to UK. I think that as long as there is so much confusion about labelling, product and process certification, together with a lack of communication, consumers will have a hard time in understanding the real value of sustainable/green products and greenwashing will still be consumers first word associated to sustainability. 

I think that it would be of great interest for retail companies too to contribute to a sort of global database of green seals /certifications/labels in order to better communicate with consumers. Would you, as a product manufacturer, contribute?