The ethical labels challenge

Which? Magazine has a new report out looking at UK consumers and sustainable fish labelling.

The Guardian has covered it, here.

The findings are that people find the labels confusing, but overwhelmingly want to do the right thing when it comes to ethical product buying.

This is why carbon labelling for small items is a mad idea. It should be for large, carbon heavy items only, mirroring perhaps the UK white goods energy efficiency labelling scheme of yesteryear, which is seen as a success.

The challenge with ethical labels is that 15 years in, fair trade labelling is only just gaining traction in some commodities, like coffee.

The Marine Stewardship Council moniker has been around for about a decade, but still consumers are not clear on how to buy ethically. Companies confuse matter with their own declarations of ‘sustainable/green sourcing’ on packaging.

This lack of clarity for consumers not surprising, given that the complexity of the sustainability challenge does not sit well with simple communications.

This is why companies cannot rely on the consumer for their business case. Your customers just expect you to act in a responsible way, and will be increasingly surprised to find that you don’t, when you get caught out by NGOs or the media.

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