Style Beats Substance in Sustainable Packaging, Report Says

by | Dec 7, 2011

Products that show they are “sustainable” with simple, emotive pack designs are more likely to win when shoppers make snap decisions on environmental credentials in the grocery store aisle, according to a study by design research firm The Big Picture.

In fact, most people would reject a “sustainable” product with a scientific or more rational pack design, even if that product had the best environmental credentials on the shelf, according to the research.

The Big Picture found that packs with dominant images of people or animals (pictured) benefiting from the product’s sustainability were seen as the “greenest” by consumers when they were shown a range of packs in the coffee and laundry sectors.

Consumers also judged packs by what they perceived as excessive or unnecessary packaging using materials such as plastic, which they see as less recyclable, regardless of whether a product had a recycle friendly logo or similar, the research revealed.

The Big Picture says that instead of looking into details, consumers tend towards instant “feel-good factors” when making a choice on sustainability while shopping.

A study released in April found that men tend to choose convenient packages over those that are environmentally friendly, and women tend to do the opposite.

The Thompson Reuters study found that women are 14 percent more likely than men to select environmentally-friendly packaging over more convenient alternatives.

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