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

Listed author(s):
  • Dorothée Brécard

    ()

    (LEMNA - Laboratoire d'économie et de management de Nantes Atlantique - UN - Université de Nantes)

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.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number hal-00759260.

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Date of creation: 22 Nov 2012
Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00759260
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