A Method for Measuring Consumer Confusion Due to Copycat Product Labels



Third-party certified product labels are important tools for marketers seeking to communicate premium product features such as sustainability or healthfulness. While consumers generally recognize and trust certified labels, acquiring certification can be a costly process for marketers. As an alternative, marketers can design and use their own unregulated labels, imitating the colors of certified labels at no additional cost. These copycat labels, however, can cause consumer confusion. In this paper, we develop a mouse-tracking method for measuring consumer confusion due to copycat labels. We show that copycat labels often mislead consumers to believe that a product includes a certified label, with mouse cursor movements providing insights into confusion levels. Combining signal-detection theory and mouse cursor movements, we develop a copycat label metric that quantifies confusion levels due to copycat labels and flags products as either "copycat suspect" or "copycat safe". This metric equips marketers with a means to design less confusing labels and provides evidence in instances where products are suspected of misleading consumers.