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Nov 11 2018

Environmental seals – an important aid for purchase decisions

German consumers trust seals. 45 percent are convinced that a product with a seal is better than one without, especially when the label originates from an environmental protection organisation. Environmental seals inspire confidence and thus draw valuable attention to the hotly contested furniture market.

The "Gütesiegel Monitor 2018" has determined that nearly half of all consumers in Germany prefer products with seals. Another 37 percent only partially trust seals, also due to the fact that not every label is viewed as trustworthy. 65 percent of those surveyed trust seals awarded by environmental protection organisations and state testing institutes.

Only 21 percent trust labels defined by companies, and 16 percent those by private testing institutes. However, in all cases, the readiness to purchase and to pay more rises by up to five percent when a seal is present. Thus the financial and organisational expense and effort involved in the certification process can pay off for furniture manufacturers over the long term.

Developments in the furniture market

According to statista.com, the import of furniture to Germany has increased slowly but steadily over the last decade, as has the growth of the furniture market. Each German spends more than 400 Euro for furniture each year, thus making Germany the strongest sales market in Europe. This is confirmed by the figures of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

According to PwC, the German furniture market had a turnover of around 22 billion Euro in 2017. Only Italy (just) managed sales of more than 20 billion Euro, followed by the United Kingdom with sales of 11 billion Euro. Austrian sales amount to less than 3.5 billion Euro and Swiss to less than 2.5 billion Euro.

PwC is convinced that the German furniture market is developing positively thanks to the increasing number of new buildings, and sees an important trend in green awareness: 73 percent of buyers consider sustainability important according to their study, and many are willing to pay up to 40 percent more, for example, for a coffee table when it has been sustainably produced and is pollution-free.

Relevant environmental seals for the German-speaking market

The most well-known seal in Germany is the Blaue Engel. Nine out of ten people are familiar with the seal and perceive it as a brand, like many other Europeans. Almost as familiar is the EU Ecolabel. Other seals that make use of the accredited testing methods are those of ÖkoControl and Eco-Institut.

In Austria, an ever increasing number of customers trust in the Österreichischen Umweltzeichen and, just like German consumers, the natureplus-Siegel. Other familiar seals are the „Goldene M“ of the Deutsche Gütegemeinschaft Möbel e.V. and that of Cradle-to-Cradle.

Environmental seals for wooden furniture: The label from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the most well-known seal for wood products in Europe, followed by that of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC). The seal of Naturland is based on strict criteria with regard to ecological forestry, as is that of "Holz von hier", which is the only ecological label that also considers the environmental impact of transport.

Environmental seals for textiles: Well-known in Germany and Europe are the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and the Oeko-Tex-Standard. Both test the environmental compatibility and social aspects behind the manufacture of a product, but also how safe it is for the consumer. The GoodWeave seal is of interest to those buying carpets and rugs, and stands for social and environmental standards.

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