Consumer spending on food with a sustainable quality mark in the Netherlands increased by 18% in 2019 compared to 2018. However, the question is whether this is because consumers consciously opt for quality marks or whether the number of products with a quality mark has simply increased significantly. In the discussion about the usefulness of quality marks, one perspective had so far been missing: that of the consumer.
We conducted research into the role, reputation and perception of the largest quality labels in the Netherlands. To understand these topics we conducted a small scale quantitative and qualitative study in the Food Forum, our conscious consumer community. Participants filled out a short questionnaire about the most widely used quality marks in the Netherlands and then joined a forum discussion in which they interacted with each other and discussed their opinions.
Quality marks give the consumer a (limited) sense of control and the possibility to contribute to a better world in a simple way, in line with their own values. 61% of the consumers in our survey indicate that labels help them make better choices.
But simply being familiar with a quality mark is not enough. When consumers only know a quality mark by name, only 12% is inclined to buy products with this certification. Whereas 85% of consumers is inclined to buy a product when they know exactly what the quality mark means.
At the same time, consumers have quality-mark fatigue. Almost two-thirds of consumers indicate that there are too many quality marks, so that an overview is lacking. Even though they have reservations about these certifications (mistrust, concern about green washing, lack of clarity), consumers do not turn away from quality marks. Hardly anyone says they consciously do not buy products with a certain quality mark.