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Investigating the effectiveness of simplified labels for safe use communication : the case of household detergents

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Abstract
This study assessed the effectiveness of safety communication on the back labels of hazardous products (with regulatory and safety information as dictated by regulatory requirements), with household detergents as a test case. The potential of simplification to increase label effectiveness was evaluated by comparing the currently used labelling approach with two simplified alternatives. The labels mainly differed in terms of the amount of information and the prominence of pictograms. The generalisability of theoretical insights on the effectiveness of pictograms in safety messages to a more real-life context was tested by (a) realistic labels containing several other information elements besides the safety information and (b) target users who are knowledgeable about the product type. One thousand eight hundred (1,800) respondents participated in an online experiment and were randomly exposed to one of the labels. The positive cognitive and behavioural effects commonly attributed to pictorials could not be confirmed, but positive affective effects did emerge. Specifically, even though participants were asked to carefully read the label, they did not spend enough time to process all the content except for the most simplified label. The results did not show meaningful differences between the three labels in terms of information recall (which was poor for all executions), hazard perceptions and behavioural intentions when confronted with an accident. In contrast to this lack of differentiation in cognitive and behavioural intention effects, we did find a clear difference in the affective measure. A majority of the respondents preferred the simplified safety labels. As such, avoiding information overload, and conveying the information in an easier way by means of more prominent use of pictograms, appeared to be appreciated by consumers of household products, while it did not negatively impact label effectiveness.
Keywords
Applied Psychology, Marketing, Economics and Econometrics, Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health, CLP regulation, hazard communication, pictograms, product safety labels, simplification

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MLA
Geuens, Maggie, et al. “Investigating the Effectiveness of Simplified Labels for Safe Use Communication : The Case of Household Detergents.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSUMER STUDIES, 2021, doi:10.1111/ijcs.12662.
APA
Geuens, M., Byrne, D., Boeije, G., Peeters, V., & Vandecasteele, B. (2021). Investigating the effectiveness of simplified labels for safe use communication : the case of household detergents. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSUMER STUDIES. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcs.12662
Chicago author-date
Geuens, Maggie, Dominic Byrne, Geert Boeije, Virginie Peeters, and Bert Vandecasteele. 2021. “Investigating the Effectiveness of Simplified Labels for Safe Use Communication : The Case of Household Detergents.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSUMER STUDIES. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcs.12662.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Geuens, Maggie, Dominic Byrne, Geert Boeije, Virginie Peeters, and Bert Vandecasteele. 2021. “Investigating the Effectiveness of Simplified Labels for Safe Use Communication : The Case of Household Detergents.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSUMER STUDIES. doi:10.1111/ijcs.12662.
Vancouver
1.
Geuens M, Byrne D, Boeije G, Peeters V, Vandecasteele B. Investigating the effectiveness of simplified labels for safe use communication : the case of household detergents. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSUMER STUDIES. 2021;
IEEE
[1]
M. Geuens, D. Byrne, G. Boeije, V. Peeters, and B. Vandecasteele, “Investigating the effectiveness of simplified labels for safe use communication : the case of household detergents,” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSUMER STUDIES, 2021.
@article{8698263,
  abstract     = {{This study assessed the effectiveness of safety communication on the back labels of hazardous products (with regulatory and safety information as dictated by regulatory requirements), with household detergents as a test case. The potential of simplification to increase label effectiveness was evaluated by comparing the currently used labelling approach with two simplified alternatives. The labels mainly differed in terms of the amount of information and the prominence of pictograms. The generalisability of theoretical insights on the effectiveness of pictograms in safety messages to a more real-life context was tested by (a) realistic labels containing several other information elements besides the safety information and (b) target users who are knowledgeable about the product type. One thousand eight hundred (1,800) respondents participated in an online experiment and were randomly exposed to one of the labels. The positive cognitive and behavioural effects commonly attributed to pictorials could not be confirmed, but positive affective effects did emerge. Specifically, even though participants were asked to carefully read the label, they did not spend enough time to process all the content except for the most simplified label. The results did not show meaningful differences between the three labels in terms of information recall (which was poor for all executions), hazard perceptions and behavioural intentions when confronted with an accident. In contrast to this lack of differentiation in cognitive and behavioural intention effects, we did find a clear difference in the affective measure. A majority of the respondents preferred the simplified safety labels. As such, avoiding information overload, and conveying the information in an easier way by means of more prominent use of pictograms, appeared to be appreciated by consumers of household products, while it did not negatively impact label effectiveness.}},
  author       = {{Geuens, Maggie and Byrne, Dominic and Boeije, Geert and Peeters, Virginie and Vandecasteele, Bert}},
  issn         = {{1470-6423}},
  journal      = {{INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSUMER STUDIES}},
  keywords     = {{Applied Psychology,Marketing,Economics and Econometrics,Public Health,Environmental and Occupational Health,CLP regulation,hazard communication,pictograms,product safety labels,simplification}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  title        = {{Investigating the effectiveness of simplified labels for safe use communication : the case of household detergents}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ijcs.12662}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}

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