Consumer response to packaging design: The role of packaging materials and graphics in sustainability perceptions and product evaluations

Nigel D. Steenis*, Erica van Herpen, Ivo A. van der Lans, Tom N. Ligthart, Hans C.M. van Trijp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Building on theories of cue utilization, this paper investigates whether and how packaging sustainability influences consumer perceptions, inferences and attitudes towards packaged products. A framework is tested in an empirical study among 249 students using soup products varying in packaging material and graphics. The findings show that (packaging) sustainability is a highly salient association but is only moderately important for consumer attitudes. A comparison between consumer judgments and life-cycle assessment indicates that consumers rely on misleading, inaccurate lay beliefs to judge packaging sustainability and are therefore susceptible to making ineffective environmental decisions. The research also demonstrates the power of packaging in shaping perceptions of food products. Particularly, it shows that changes in actual environmental impacts (by altering packaging materials) affect not only sustainability perceptions but also several other benefits, such as perceived taste and quality. At the same time, consumers' sustainability assessments are also highly influenced by mere graphical packaging cues that have no obvious actual sustainability consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-298
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume162
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Consumer attitudes
  • Cue utilization
  • Graphic appearance
  • Green design
  • Packaging materials
  • Sustainability

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