Eco and sustainability labels: the divide of the sexes
Behind the scenes

Eco and sustainability labels: the divide of the sexes

Alex Hämmerli
Translation: Veronica Bielawski

Every third digitec and Galaxus customer pays close attention to eco and sustainability labels when shopping – most often in food and clothing. On the other hand, the seals of approval are of little interest for watches, jewellery and sex toys. Women and the French-speaking Swiss are particularly committed to sustainability.

Max Havelaar, the Blue Angel, MSC, FSC or Energy Star: there are as many labels to distinguish sustainable and environmentally friendly products as there are leaves in the jungle. But do consumers pay attention to them when shopping? And if yes, for which products? How often do they buy products crowned with an eco or sustainability label? And how willing are they to dig deeper into their wallets?

To answer these questions, the digitec and Galaxus online shops surveyed 1,980 customers. 32% of the respondents were women, and 68% were men. This gender ratio can be explained by the fact that mostly men shop on digitec, the specialist electronics retailer. 70% of the respondents live in German-speaking Switzerland, 25% in French-speaking Switzerland and 5% in Ticino, which quite accurately reflects the proportion of languages in the Swiss population. 61% have also completed some form of higher education, e.g. have a degree from a university, university of applied sciences or higher technical college. People with higher education are therefore disproportionately represented in the survey.

Two out of ten can’t be bothered with labels

Just under a third of those surveyed pay close or very close attention to eco and sustainability labels. A similar number stated that they were «quite» or «very» willing to pay more for such products. On the other hand, 18% said the labels didn’t influence them at all, and 14% weren’t prepared to pay more for sustainable products.

There are big differences between the sexes: almost four out of ten women make their purchasing decision strongly or very strongly dependent on whether a product has an eco or sustainability label. With men, it’s less than three out of ten. In contrast, education had little influence on the decision.

When it comes to eco and sustainability labels, there’s also a divide between the German-speaking and French-speaking parts of Switzerland: four out of ten Romands pay close or very close attention to labels, while for German-speaking Swiss, the figure is less than three out of ten. No representative statements can be made for Ticino.

Labels stand out at the dinner table, less so in the bedroom

Digitec and Galaxus customers look for eco and sustainability labels especially when eating and drinking: almost half of the respondents stated that the labels played a part in their purchasing decision. A quarter of the Swiss also pay attention to the origin and energy footprint of clothing and shoes, electrical household appliances and cosmetics. On the other hand, they pay practically no attention to labels on erotic products, watches and jewellery, sports equipment and sports accessories. This may be because there aren’t many established labels for these product categories yet.

Digitec and Galaxus customers consider environmental protection to be the most important criterion for eco and sustainability labels, followed by social and animal welfare.

Two out of ten men never buy products with eco or sustainability labels

A quarter of the respondents stated that they frequently or very frequently buy products with an eco or sustainability label. A solid third of respondents do so from time to time. In turn, one third rarely or very rarely buy products with an eco or sustainability label. Men in particular often give sustainable products the cold shoulder.

The decision to buy correlates strongly with the trust respondents place in the labels: women are more likely to trust in eco and sustainability labels than men, and French-speaking Swiss are more likely to do so than German-speaking Swiss. The same applies to education: people with higher education are more likely to trust these labels than people without higher education.

Digitec and Galaxus already display information on sustainability and related labels for thousands of products. Customers can find the information in the specifications, for example for this printer paper or for this coffee. Digitec and Galaxus are constantly updating and adding missing information – also with the help of suppliers and manufacturers.

Charts: Made with Flourish.

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Alex Hämmerli
Senior Public Relations Manager

At Digitec and Galaxus, I’m in charge of communication with journalists and bloggers. Good stories are my passion – I am always up to date.

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