We’ve all noticed the growing number of symbols that seem to pop up overnight on consumer products. Labels touting “organic,” “fair trade,” “shade grown,” “bio-based,” and “energy star,” are there to reassure shoppers that they are buying a more premium product. But are consumers really buying into the claims? And is it really worth it to pursue such certifications for your own importing and exporting business?
In a word, yes. Trend research shows that consumers are increasingly concerned with where and how their purchases were manufactured. But it’s not enough just to say that your product is [fill in the blank with your preferred claim here] – according to research, consumers are only more likely to purchase a product that has an official accreditation.
• Helps your business stand out from the competition
• Could allow you to fetch a higher price for your products
• Increases your pool of eligible buyers
• Ensures that you are staying on top of the latest consumer trends
Now, if your (or your suppliers’) manufacturing practices are way far off from meeting certification standards, it might be too costly to change everything overnight. But chances are, you might already be “in the zone” for at least one certification. And adding that special label might just be the certifiable boost your business needed.
What it is: Based in France but recognized globally, EcoCert was the first certification body to develop standards for “natural and organic cosmetics,” and they are the main certification body for such products today.
Why you should consider it: Natural makeup and skin care brands are growing twice as fast as competitors and the certified organic and natural cosmetics industry has grown 24% to date. Having an EcoCert label on your products could make them more appealing to both wholesalers and consumers.
What it is: QAI is a worldwide certification authority on organic food farming, processing and manufacturing operations. They provide certifications for different markets around the world, including the United States, Mexico, Canada, Europe and Japan. In addition, they’ve recently released a “transitional” certification to encourage farmers to make the switch from conventional to organic methods.
Why you should consider it: The global organic food market is projected to grow more than 14% by 2021. And organic products have already been shown to fetch higher prices in the marketplace: one study found that consumers were willing to pay up to 20% more for fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.
What it is: Fair Trade International and Fair Trade Certified are two different organizations that offer certification; both aim to ensure that suppliers and workers around the world are paid a fair wage for their goods and services.
Why you should consider it: In one study, consumers were found willing to pay 30% more for fair trade products, and they perceived them to taste better (in the case of fair trade chocolate). According to another study, having a Fair Trade Certified label on your products could increase sales by 10%.
What it is: The FSC is a global organization that monitors and encourages responsible forestry practices.
Why you should consider it: The EU, USA and Australia all have legislation banning the trade of illegally harvested timber. By only trading wood products with FSC certification, you’ll reduce your clients’ (and your own) risk of exposure to illegal timber. In addition, there is some anecdotal evidence that having an FSC certification can increase revenue and boost your own company’s image.
What it is: Vegan Action and The Vegan Society monitor ingredients and manufacturing methods in order to certify that products do not contain animal by-products and that they have not been tested on animals.
Why you should consider it: Data is pointing to vegan products becoming one of the most popular food trends of 2018. In the US alone, the number of people who identify themselves as “vegan” has risen 500% since 2014. Having a certified vegan label on your products not only appeals to people who have labeled themselves as such, but it has also shown to appeal to a new group of consumers who identify as “low-meat” or “lessitarian” – those who strive to embrace more plant-based products in favor of animal-based products.
Thinking of these certifications as marketing tools, you might be tempted to create your own “certification” label thereby enjoying all of the benefits of it, without paying any of the regulatory agency fees. It’s a clever idea, but a very risky one.
Government bodies and regulatory agencies are constantly on the lookout for these type of claims that could be misleading to consumers, and any company found in violation could be heavily fined. Even if your claims are true, they would be considered fraudulent because you didn’t have the proper regulatory body verify them. So, when it comes to certification, you should play it “by the book” and get your products “officially” certified or not at all.
What certifications do your products have? How has the certification affected your business? Reply and comment below!