Labelling clinches success or failure of product

Washington, Nov 28 ( Labelling practically clinches the success or failure of a product, a new study says.

The research conducted by University of Illinois (U-I) economist Michael Mazzocco and Augustana College marketing professor Nadia Novotorova demonstrated that product labelling makes a difference when it comes to consumer acceptance.

For instance, consumers prefer to pay more for locally grown apples than genetically modified (GMO) versions. But in a another questionnaire, consumers preferred GMO apples when they were described as being more eco-friendly.

Mazzocco says it’s about selling the benefits.

“When GMO crops were first introduced, people called them ‘Frankenfood’ and emphasised the lab processes used in breeding.

“The benefit seemed to be for farmers who saved money by not having to spray their crops with chemicals,” he adds.

The reality is that apples can be bred to be disease-resistant, so they don’t have to be sprayed with fungicides and other chemicals 15 to 20 times per growing season. This attribute gives them reduced environmental impact, and that’s a benefit consumers can wrap their teeth around, as well as their wallets.

“One thing we learned was that if you’re going to get any benefit from technology, you’re going to have to communicate the benefits of it,” Mazzocco said.

“People aren’t willing to pay you for the technology just so they can have another attribute. There’s an equal trade-off. But, when you don’t call it GMO and instead you communicate the benefit to the environment, it’s more than a one-to-one trade-off and consumers are willing to pay more for it.”

Both surveys began by giving the participants the identical short lesson in apple growing which included information about apple diseases and pests and how disease-resistant apples are developed.

One apple is made through lab techniques where a naturally occurring scab-resistant gene from an apple was inserted into another variety of apple that’s your favourite – the one you would normally buy, says an U-I release.

This apple that has the gene inserted in a lab can reduce spraying 15 to 20 times per season in an orchard for an apple grower that’s susceptible to apple scab.

These findings appear in the November issue of Journal of Food Distribution Research.