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Designed to Be Noticed: A Reconceptualization of Carbon Food Labels as Warning Labels

Isabel Carrero (), Carmen Valor (), Estela Díaz () and Victoria Labajo
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Isabel Carrero: School of Business Administration, Universidad Pontificia Comillas, 28015 Madrid, Spain
Carmen Valor: School of Business Administration, Universidad Pontificia Comillas, 28015 Madrid, Spain
Estela Díaz: School of Business Administration, Universidad Pontificia Comillas, 28015 Madrid, Spain

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 3, 1-14

Abstract: Carbon labels are considered a fundamental tool for reducing emissions associated with grocery products. Although the prior literature has shown that both limited motivation and understanding of carbon labels explain the effectiveness of carbon labels, knowledge regarding how to improve the label design to increase noticeability is limited. Given the limited motivation of mainstream consumers to use carbon labels, this exploratory paper proposes that the label design should trigger bottom-up (or sensory-driven) attention mechanisms. Using grounded theory for the data collection and analysis of six focus groups, this study tests six features (i.e., location, size, color, icons, a colored background or border, and textual anchors) and identifies four design criteria (i.e., vividness, incongruity, simplicity, and clarity) that may increase label noticeability. The main conclusion of this qualitative study is that carbon labels are noticed when they are perceived as a cue of hazard. Based on this finding, we propose that carbon labels could be designed as warning labels; therefore, the insights already proven in the warning label literature should be applied to carbon label design to increase its noticeability and use.

Keywords: carbon labels; eco-labels; design; awareness; warning labels; noticeability; CO 2 emissions; climate action; climate change; approach goals; avoidance goals; attention mechanisms (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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