Majera, J. et al. The effects of visual sustainability labels on consumer perception and behavior: A systematic review of the empirical literature

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Johann M. Majera, Heike A. Henscherab, Paula Reuber, Denise Fischer-Kreer & Daniel Fischer

Release date:
September 2022

Sustainable Production and Consumption Volume 33, pages 1–14

Demand-side mitigation solutions such as changing peoples' consumption behaviors can substantially help limit climate change (IPCC, 2022). Labelling schemes are a promising tool to promote more sustainable consumption behavior by reliably informing the consumers about the performance of a product regarding a range of environmental, ethical, or social aspects. However, labelling has been conceptualized in different ways, approached from various disciplinary backgrounds, examined through diverse research designs, and tested across manifold product categories and contexts. The present research synthesizes the dispersed empirical evidence on the effects of visual sustainability labels on consumer perception and behavior by systematically reviewing the literature. In a two-step screening process, a set of predetermined criteria was used to ultimately identify 26 eligible studies. The authors narratively and quantitatively synthesized the empirical findings. The aggregated findings suggest that labels do have positive effects on psychological and behavioral outcome variables. In addition, they identify a number of important moderating variables that can be categorized as individual factors of the consumers, as context factors in the purchase situation, and as factors inherent in the label itself. However, the reviewed body of literature reveals deficiencies in studying interactions of labels and external factors and in studying actual behavior change in field settings. Based on these insights gained from the systematic review, the authors propose avenues for advancements in the field of research and highlight implications for promoting sustainable consumer behavior.

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