Eco-labeling: Is There an App for That?

Jan 23, 2012 10:50 AM ET

What Do You Stand For?

From "Farm Verified Organic" to "USDA Organic," "Processed Chlorine Free" to "Totally Chlorine Free," eco-labels are proliferating and consumers are having a tough time keeping them all straight. Cone's 2011 Green Gap Trend Tracker found 51 percent of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of environmental messages in the marketplace, and no wonder – there are more than 5,000 products currently on the shelves touting green claims and more than 400 green labels in the market.

What was once a solution for effective green marketing has become a contested topic among marketing experts and environmental authorities alike. Consumers, however, are turning to technology for the answer. Bart King, writer for Sustainable Life Media, offers one possible solution to the green label conundrum – an app. Many products are now equipped with "smart barcodes," which allow users to scan codes to learn more information about the products they are purchasing with apps like GoodGuide. Apps also offer a potential solution for marketers struggling to efficiently communicate the holistic environmental credentials of their products.

On-pack offers only a small space for product messages, yet almost 80 percent of Americans want detailed information readily accessible on product packaging. Armed with apps, curious consumers can now dig deeper into a company's product specifications and environmental impact right in the store, without having to decode a myriad of labels.