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China Launches Digital Energy Label & App

This first in the world QR code energy label offers access to useful product information for consumers and other stakeholders 

In June 2016, China launched a fully digitized China Energy Label, newly including a QR code and accompanying mobile application.  Concluding a two-year undertaking, the China Energy Label’s (CEL) new QR code is the first of its kind in the world. China’s National Institute of Standardization (CNIS) worked closely with CLASP to design and develop the QR code and app. 

The updated CEL offers a consumer platform, accessed by the QR code, with the same energy efficiency and consumption grades from the old label and a wealth of new information like using the product, repairs and replacement, recycling options, seasonal energy consumption, and updates on government policy and testing data. With these new features, the digitized CEL brings accessibility and transparency to the Chinese appliance market.

Digitalization of the CEL benefits market stakeholders throughout the supply chain:

  • Consumers can access more information to inform their purchases;
  • Manufacturers can update product information and receive consumer feedback;
  • Retailers have access to more product information to educate consumers;
  • Market Surveillance Officials gain easier access to the product registration database and can monitor non-compliance;
  • Policymakers can more easily deter non-compliance through CEL’s dissemination of market monitoring results.  

To support uptake of the new features and promote the CEL, CNIS launched corresponding consumer awareness campaigns in 30 key cities (cities with more than 2 million residents) across China. Following the campaigns, CLASP worked with CNIS to design and conduct a national consumer survey to assess consumer understanding , usage, and thoughts on the energy label, to learn about consumers’ awareness of the QR code and solicit feedback, and determine whether campaigns had effectively reached targeted segments China’s vast population.

The survey enlisted two main research methods: in-person focus groups and a survey questionnaire each discussing:

  • Purchasing behavior, e.g. have participants purchased an appliance in the last six months, or do they  plan to purchase one in the next two months;
  • Influencing factors on buying household appliances, e.g. what are the top three reasons a participant buys a new appliance;  
  • Recognition of energy label, e.g. do participants simply recognize the energy label or do they know what it is used for;
  • Recognition and acceptance of the QR code, e.g. would participants use the QR code to answer daily questions at home; and
  • Familiarity with promotion of the energy label, e.g. have the participants seen the promotional campaigns.

The consumer survey shows that the CEL itself has saturated the market, enjoying 97% consumer awareness. Over 60% of those surveyed indicated they would be willing to use the QR code when making a purchase, 63% of participants also said they would use the QR code when they are using the appliance. Nearly 50% of interviewees agreed that digitizing the energy label through a QR code and mobile app added value to consumers or that the QR codes features are helpful. Only 11% of participants do not think the QR code is helpful or necessary.

A majority of participants found the new features available through the QR code useful. 66% of interviewees indicate that the product usage information was the most useful. Interviewees also enjoy the electricity use estimates.

China first launched their energy label in 2005 to strengthen energy conservation, promote the progress of energy-saving technologies, and improve energy efficiency – they began digitizing it in 2014. 



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