Industry research on how consumers understand and read labels

A.I.S.E.’s Better Regulation and Safe Use ("BRES") research has been published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies and is now available via open access.

This peer-reviewed publication, developed in conjunction with Maggie Geuens at Ghent University, Insights Consulting and A.I.S.E., reports the background, methodology and results of A.I.S.E.’s BRES research.  

In summary:

  • This study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of the current approach to hazard labelling, versus two simplified but realistic alternatives. The labels mainly differed in terms of the amount of information and the prominence of pictograms.
  • 1800 respondents participated in an online survey and were randomly exposed to one of the labels.  Respondents were asked to take a close look at the front and the back label they were exposed to.
  • Variables that were tracked included the respondents’ cognitive responses (reading, recall and hazard perceptions), behavioural responses (intentions after reading a scenario of a concrete incidence), affective responses (label preference) and the time spent reading the label. 
  • Interestingly, this study revealed that respondents did not spend enough time to process all the content except for the most simplified label.  In addition, respondents expressed a clear preference for the simplified alternative labels.

This research demonstrates that the approach of "more information is better” does not engage consumers.  In turn, it raises questions about the effectiveness and proportionality of this approach.  Further work is needed but it is clear that a consumer focussed approach should be considered for the safety labelling of consumer products.

For more information on A.I.S.E.'s research, download the factsheet: Better Regulation and safe use