Latest research shows leap in public awareness of the MSC ecolabel

October 4, 2010 16:17

Close to one in four adults are aware of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel - an increase of more than two and a half times since 2008, according to a survey carried out by AMR Marketing Research in July 2010, reports with reference to MSC.

The 2010 research, carried out in the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and Japan shows that across these regions, 23 per cent of the adult population is now aware of the MSC ecolabel - up from 9 per cent in 2008.

Awareness of the MSC ecolabel varies across the regions but is currently at the highest level in Germany, which has leapt to 36 per cent (from 11 per cent in 2008).
Emergence of fast-growing consumer trends since 2008

Simon Edwards, Global Marketing and Communications Director, MSC, commented: "This latest research reveals fast-growing consumer trends in each of the regions since the benchmark survey of 2008. Consumers are increasingly responsive to the MSC ecolabel and look out for the label to make informed purchasing decisions. Increased awareness combined with the emergence of a sustainable consumption pattern across all regions confirms consumers' growing and long-term commitment to sustainability."

"The results also draw attention to the economic and reputation benefits the new MSC ecolabel can offer partners and shed light on the success of recent marketing campaigns promoting MSC-labelled seafood: this year, the MSC joined forces with retailers and seafood brands to promote certified sustainable seafood at the point of sale. Consumers responded positively to the sustainability messages provided in store and the joint campaigns resulted in a significant uplift in sales and further established the sustainability credentials of our partners."
Commitment to MSC-labelled products is on the rise

The research confirms that ecolabels and MSC-labelled products in particular have acquired greater relevance to consumers as they adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Not only are consumers reporting they are looking for and buying more ecolabelled products these days (37 per cent), the surveys show that there are a growing number of shoppers that are increasingly environmentally conscious and concerned about sustainability (56 per cent); less price sensitive (32 per cent);  and prepared to go out of their way to purchase ecolabelled products (24 per cent).

In each of the regions, market penetration of MSC-labelled products has increased rapidly in the past 2 years - but not as rapidly as the awareness of MSC-labelled products. The surveys reveal much higher levels of awareness and commitment to MSC-labelled seafood compared to market-penetration (an average of 23 per cent and 4 per cent respectively).  This receptive market presents a significant opportunity for partners to further develop their MSC-labelled range.
Influencing consumers' buying decisions

The higher confidence placed in ecolabels is influencing consumers' buying decisions. Overall, 55 per cent of respondents believe ecolabels are effective in helping bringing changes to environmental/social problems (33 per cent still undecided) and 65 per cent think that buying MSC- labelled products will help bring improvements to the marine environment (31 per cent  still undecided). Compared to the 2008 benchmark survey, increasing numbers of shoppers are willing to change their ingrained purchase behaviours in favour of MSC and other ecolabelled products to align their shopping habits to their personal values. For 24 per cent of respondents, ecolabelled products are a planned purchase and they are willing to go elsewhere if the ecolabelled products they are looking for are not available.

Across these markets, the biggest barrier to purchase is by far the number of consumers who are not yet aware of the positive choices they can make by choosing MSC-labelled products. However, there is a vast potential market of approximately 44 per cent of consumers that are very concerned about the sustainability of seafood and who believe they can make a difference by buying ecolabelled products, presenting a significant opportunity for retail partners to boost sales and build their brand equity using low-cost in-store promotions.
Increasing the value of the MSC ecolabel to our partners

"The survey clearly shows how much consumers care about sustainable seafood and the strength of consumer confidence in ecolabels. It is very encouraging that consumers - in the six countries surveyed - are becoming increasingly receptive to the MSC ecolabel and show high levels of awareness," Rupert Howes, CEO of the MSC commented. "Since 2008, we have scaled up efforts and joined forces with fishery and supply chain partners to roll out a consumer marketing strategy and increase the value of our blue ecolabel. As the survey demonstrates, our joint efforts are paying off. We are committed to this path and we will continue to increase awareness of the MSC programme and ecolabel at the same time as enhancing the sustainability credentials of the participating fisheries, retailers and seafood brands. The opportunity is now set for business to make more MSC-labelled products available to win the heart and minds of this ever-growing consumer base."

Matthieu Lambeaux, CEO of Findus France, added: "In January and February 2010, we joined forces with Carrefour, Labeyrie and Connétable to build awareness of the MSC ecolabel and help shoppers make positive environmental choices. Our joint campaign, 'Les Jours Bleus', proved to be a great channel to promote certified sustainable seafood at the point of sale. The cost-effective promotion enabled us to tap into the growing market for certified sustainable seafood and increased our market share for breaded fish in Carrefour stores by 30 per cent in volume."

The growth in awareness is also supported by other research carried out by Panelwizard commissioned in March 2010 in the Netherlands in which 22 % of respondents can identify the MSC ecolabel.

About the AMR Marketing survey

The AMR Marketing survey was carried out to gauge attitudes and behaviour towards ecolabels, sustainable seafood and MSC in 6 of its key markets. A total of 3,600 interviews were completed in the UK, USA, Germany, Japan, Canada and France. The sample has been structured to be nationally projectable to each region's adult population and is statistically valid at 95% confidence level (+/- 4%).

Consumer surveys to gauge attitudes and behaviour towards ecolabels, sustainable seafood and MSC are undertaken every two years to monitor awareness of and commitment to the MSC labelled products in key markets. The 2010 survey featured the evolved and improved MSC ecolabel which began to enter the market in October 2009.

Prompting and Influence' were minimised by:

  • Asking these questions before any others in the survey
  • Removing the text that identifies the ecolabel
  • Describing it as a logo rather than ecolabel
• No clues given to respondents during recruiting of what the survey is testing

About les Jours Bleus

In January and February 2010, Findus, Labeyrie, Connétable and the MSC in partnership with the Carrefour Group joined forces to launch les Jours Bleus (the Blue Days), a nationwide in-store campaign in France. The campaign results exceeded our partners' expectations. During les Jours Bleus, Findus increased their market share for breaded fish in Carrefour stores by 30% in volume. Sales of Connétable products were multiplied by 10 compared to their average annual sales throughout the year. All the partners have signed up to run the campaign again next year.
About the Panelwizard survey

The online survey was carried out by Panelwizard in March 2010. A total of 539 online questionnaires were completed by shoppers over 16 years old. The sample is statistically valid at 95% confidence level (+/- 4%).

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