Through specific questioning and evaluation of the gathered information, researchers hoped to draw fact-based conclusions on whether Type I, Type II or Type III environmental labelling was perceived as most accurate by consumers. Surveys were given only to one person per household; that person was always identified as the main consumer and it is believed that their views on labelling would properly represent the entire household. Two criticisms can be made of the methodology of this project: first, the primary consumer in one household cannot strictly represent his or her household in their beliefs, and second, given published differences in consumer awareness throughout the various States, this purely Victorian data cannot be held true to the rest of Australia.
The ethical concerns for any survey-based research are far less than with other types of data gathering because of the ability of any person to simply refuse to participate (Loughborough 1995). The fundamental ethical concerns of this research are actually inherent in its results because of how the information is going to be used; green labelling is something more and more consumers are looking for and because of this, labels must be presented properly (Wagner 1997). Food policy will vary from country to country and even from one region to another, however the basic principle of consumer awareness remains generally omnipresent (Fine 1998). Environmental labelling is something that is ethically important in itself (Gunningham et al 1998), and therefore the most important consideration these researchers must make is to clearly represent the Victorian or perhaps Australian population in its perception and use of such labels.
There have been many similar studies conducted that concern consumer relation to product labelling because marketing teams and business owners want to better understand the relationship these labels have to their customers. Consumers will not strictly read labels; there is a varied percentage of consumers that place great importance on product information, however, and both behaviours have been the subject of research (Clarke 2003). These have focused on specific types of labelling, however, and this research was meant to encompass all types for comparison. The surveys made reference to all three identifiable categories of environmental label: Types I through III which are distinguishable from one another respectively as third-party environmental labelling, general environmental claims (such as "recyclable"), and third-party environmental labelling that has been awarded after specific and vigorous professional testing. Those labels affixed to products in cooperation with the Australian government were not included in this research.
Based on previous research conducted by other parties, Australian consumers are only vaguely aware of environmental labelling in its various types and this intelligence varies from State to State (Sutherland et al 2000). The precedent for this particular research was therefore set low in terms of consumer awareness, however members of the study hoped that the implications of their results would be fully appreciated by consumers nationally. The information gathered in these surveys was