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Paper Jorna Leenheer accepted for publication in the European Journal of Marketing

Published: 16th June 2022 Last updated: 22nd June 2022

The paper by Jorna Leenheer (together with Millie Elsen from CenterData) on “Energy efficiency of consideration sets and choices: The impact of label format” has been accepted for publication in the European Journal of Marketing.


Purpose – This research examines how the design of the online energy label can be improved to
stimulate consumer choice of energy-efficient household products in web stores. Based on
general evaluability theory (GET), we propose new label formats that aim to improve the
evaluability of the label information for consumers and test their influence during two distinct
stages in the online decision-making process: consideration set formation and final choice.

Design/method/approach – Two large-scale controlled online experiments are conducted with
over 10,000 consumers in 10 European countries. The experiments test label alternatives in
simulated online store environments, mimicking the two distinct decision stages, for four product
categories to enhance generalizability. The data are analyzed using random-intercept linear and
logistic regression models to account for their multi-level structure.

Findings – The results show that the impact of the online energy label on consumers’ online
decision-making depends on both the label format and the decision stage (consideration vs.
choice), but in a different way than expected. The findings reveal that the current online energy
label is significantly outperformed by a label that provides reference information by
incorporating the scale range. This alternative label is particularly effective in the consideration
set formation stage, and among consumers who consider energy efficiency a relatively
unimportant choice criterion.

Research limitations/Implications – Online energy labels encourage consumers to consider and
choose more energy-efficient products, especially if scale range information is included. The
present results stress the importance of presenting this information early on in the online decision
process. They also show that, particularly at this early stage and particularly for consumers who
find energy efficiency a relatively unimportant choice criterion, label format matters.

Practical implications – Our findings provide important input for policymakers in the context of
the ongoing revision of the EU energy label. They also help online retailers make decisions about
when and how to present product information on their websites.

Originality/value – This study contributes to the literature on product labelling by examining
the effects of relatively unexplored types of reference information in two distinct stages of the
consumer decision-making process. To our knowledge, this study is the first to test the
effectiveness of the online energy label.

Keywords: Energy labelling, online retailing, multi-stage decision-making, attribute evaluability