Posted 13 Jan 2015

Eco Choice Aotearoa announces the appointment of Karen McDonald, Head of Marketing and Business Development Consumer New Zealand, to the Eco Choice Board of Directors.

“Sustainability is becoming part of the mainstream and as consumers demand more environmentally-friendly products, sustainability becomes a real consideration for businesses in terms of customers and brand.”

McDonald, who first joined Consumer NZ in 2007 and again in 2012, brings a consumer-focused perspective from her five years at the member-based independent, non-profit.

Established in 1959, Consumer NZ is dedicated to ensuring New Zealand consumers get a fair deal. A significant part of the organisation’s work involves testing products and services so consumers can buy with confidence. McDonald oversees the Consumer NZ marketing programme, PR and business development activities with the aim of maximising revenue to support the research, testing and advocacy programme.

Her role includes sourcing funding for key projects such as smoke alarm and sunscreen testing and mystery shops and surveys on everything from financial advisers to sunbed operators. She also oversees both the ‘Consumer Trusted’ business accreditation programme and ‘Consumer Recommends’ product endorsement programme.

McDonald views her role at Consumer NZ as an important opportunity to work on behalf of the consumer. “We aim to provide consumers up to date, accurate information so they can make good choices. We keep businesses honest.”

In her work McDonald has noticed a growing customer awareness and demand for products and services that are better for the environment.

“Sustainability is becoming part of the mainstream and as consumers demand more environmentally friendly products, sustainability becomes a real consideration for businesses in terms of customers and brand.”

Ecolabelling is one way for businesses to identify their products as sustainable. Ecolabelling is a voluntary method of environmental performance certification and labelling that is practised around the world. The Eco Choice label is New Zealand’s official environmental label, owned and endorsed by The Ministry for the Environment. It is the only Type I eco-label in New Zealand.

McDonald hopes to add her consumer-focused perspective to the Eco Choice Board, which has a notable blend of subject matter experts representing business and environmental interests.

“I hope to make a significant contribution in raising the use and profile of the Eco Choice label on consumer products. Currently the label is largely used in the business to business space.

“There is a proliferation of labels in the market. Part of the challenge is cutting through the clutter to reinforce Environment Choice is the ecolabelling scheme consumers can trust. Eco Choice Board Chair Richard Tong says that McDonald’s skills are a complement to the board. “We are excited to have Karen join. She brings marketing and business development expertise as well as a focus on the consumer. Her appointment certainly rounds out the team.”

Eco Choice specifications have been written specifically for the New Zealand market and take into account the environmental concerns of New Zealand. The Eco Choice label uses a rigorous, multi-criteria assessment, looks at the product lifecycle and includes an independent third party verification process.

“It’s a robust process which means that businesses and consumers can have confidence in the product or service with the Eco Choice label,” says McDonald.


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