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New Ethical Label Issues are Gaining Prominence on the Shelves

Latest report on ethical shopping trends shows that shoppers are more likely to notice product sources By Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director, Shoppercentric


New Ethical Label Issues are Gaining Prominence on the Shelves

The report says that 62 percent of shoppers now claim that they notice locally sourced labelling on food & drink, 43 percent notice sustainable sourcing labels, and 32 percent notice renewable energy labels. The changes reflect a mainstream ethical agenda that is progressing into deeper, more complex territory as shoppers are invited to consider the impact of their basket contents on the
planet at large.

In terms of the more 'well known' food and drink ethical labels - fair trade, free range, organic and recycle, “we saw very little change since 2008 in the number of shoppers noticing these labels. However this is probably due to the fact that these were the first issues to gain traction with the shopping public, and one could say that it seems that relevant messages have been successfully conveyed and reached a certain saturation point with the vast majority now aware of these labels”.

Also striking in the research findings is the ethical shift in non-food categories. Six out of ten shoppers now claim to have noticed fair trade labeling on clothes and household goods - compared with just four in ten in 2008. Additionally 47 percent are now noticing organic labelling on household goods and clothing, compared with 28 percent two years ago. Shoppers are clearly recognising the extended reach of ethical issues in affecting choices way beyond coffee and eggs.

Yet despite this rise in consciousness it appears that ethical labelling on packs and goods is having to work harder than ever to make itself heard in the retail environment, in the absence of strong point of sale (POS) support. Retailers do play an important part in projecting messages which aim to influence or strike a chord. Significant then that value messages are completely overshadowing any reference to the ethical agenda in our
grocery aisles today.

“As part of the research for this project a range of retailers were visited and we were surprised to note that Tesco, for one, did not have a single overt piece of environmental or ethical messaging in the whole store - within a sea of price & value POS. Contrast this with M&S who continue to make a virtue of their Plan A principles, communicating key strategies with impactful signage in store. Is the latter more confident that their shoppers can afford to care, or is it simply that they better realise the importance of continuing to remind their customers that they are ethically minded even if their customers cannot afford to be just now?

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