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Consumer confusion over the profusion of eco-labels: lessons from a double differentiation model

Author

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  • Dorothée Brécard

    () (LEMNA - Laboratoire d'économie et de management de Nantes Atlantique - IEMN-IAE Nantes - Institut d'Économie et de Management de Nantes - Institut d'Administration des Entreprises - Nantes - UN - Université de Nantes - IUML - FR 3473 Institut universitaire Mer et Littoral - UM - Le Mans Université - UA - Université d'Angers - UN - Université de Nantes - ECN - École Centrale de Nantes - UBS - Université de Bretagne Sud - IFREMER - Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

How are eco-label strategies affected by consumer confusion arising from the profusion of eco-labels? This article provides a theoretical insight into this issue using a double differentiation framework. We assume that consumers perceive a label as a sign of quality compared to an unlabeled product, but that they can't distinguish the environmental quality associated with each label. They only perceive each label as a particular variety of the product. We deduce preferences for two types of label: a health label and an eco-label. We analyze pricing strategies of three firms each providing one product: a health labeled, eco-labeled or an unlabeled product. We infer lessons for eco-labeling policies, through effects of ecolabeling on welfare components, according to the identity of the certifying organization: the regulator, who aims at enhancing welfare, an NGO, which attempts to enhance the quality of the environment, and the firms, which seek to maximize their profits. We show that the firm supplying the eco-labeled product is weakened by consumer confusion while the firms selling the unlabeled product suffers from strict labels, to the benefit of the firm supplying the health labeled product. All label policies imply, whatever the certifying organization, high identical environmental quality of the labeled products, which leads to a reduction in the market share of the unlabeled product or even to its extinction.

Suggested Citation

  • Dorothée Brécard, 2012. "Consumer confusion over the profusion of eco-labels: lessons from a double differentiation model," Working Papers hal-00759260, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00759260
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00759260
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    product differentiation; Eco-label; environmental quality; green consumer; product differentiation.;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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