Harleysville, PA—Could too much of a good thing could yield negative results? It might when it comes to green seals on product packaging, according to a study conducted by market research expert Natural Marketing Institute (NMI).

Over 400 green seals are dispersed internationally with the goal of proving a product’s organic, natural or eco-friendly qualities. They could increase purchases, as most consumers (roughly eight out of 10) admit they are more likely to purchase a product with a certification seal. In the United States, only 43% of the population are swayed to buy a product based on a green seal or certification mark. Despite the many benefits of certifications, however, consumers are becoming overwhelmed; their meaning, value and credibility are waning with the constant introduction of new seals, says NMI.

The firm collected data on consumers’ purchasing habits from over 25 countries through its Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) Consumer Trends Database. The group has been collecting information on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, environmentalism and social issues since 2002.

On average, just one-third or less of shoppers recognize and understand specific seals. The most recognizable, with more than three-quarters of global consumer recognition, was the recycling logo. However, according to the study, it only positively impacts purchase intent among 54% of the global population. Besides the 78% identification rate of the recycling logo, the next recognizable seal was the Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade Certified logos at a low, startling 35%, followed by the Eco-Cert label at a 30% recognition rate.

NMI asked shoppers how seals could be better understood and recognized, and found that three-fifths of U.S. consumers would accept an overarching universal seal that crosses industries with open arms.

“Less is more” could be the lesson from this study. According to NMI results, eradicating unnecessary seals and grouping similar certifications could increase knowledge and understanding of the various seals and certifications.


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, August 2012 (online 6/29/12)