How products affect the buyer depends not least on the packaging material. This is shown by a study conducted by the Justus Liebig University in Giessen on behalf of the German Carton Industry Association (FFI) and Pro Carton, which is now available in English as well as in the original German. Pro Carton spoke about this with Dr. Melanie Bowen from the University, who supervised the study from a scientific point of view.
Pro Carton: What was the starting point for the research?
Dr. Melanie Bowen: “Turnover in the organic retail trade and the overall turnover of organic products continues to rise. There are more and more products that are sold in organic shops and there are more and more brands that specialise in organic foods and thus naturally want to convey the idea of sustainability and environmental awareness to the consumer.
But what is clear is that many foods and many products are still packaged in plastic. We asked ourselves why, what is the reason, and does sustainable cartonboard packaging actually not have a positive influence on the perception of products.”
How is the study designed?
“The study is set up in such a way that we selected nine product categories in consultation with the FFI and Pro Carton. For each of these categories, we generated four product images depicting the product in cartonboard packaging and plastic packaging, and the product in organic form and conventional quality respectively.
The participants in the study were then each shown a product image from one product category, for example organic biscuits in cartonboard packaging. The participants were then asked to answer questions about the product and the packaging.”
What are the main findings of this study?
“The main findings are that packaging and the packaging material have an impact on product perception. On the one hand, consumers – in this case the participants in our study – always perceived cartonboard packaging as being better; better in terms of quality, better in terms of sustainability and also better in their overall assessment.
But not only that, the participants also perceive an upgrading of the product. Organic products packaged in cartons were always seen as being better, more sustainable and of higher quality. This means that cartonboard packaging actually has a positive influence on the perception of the product.”
What is your personal conclusion from this study?
“I found the study itself very surprising. By simply packaging products differently, you can have a positive impact on the consumer’s perception of the product. The fact is that sustainable packaging enhances the product, and that consumers will therefore buy it more often.”
Steffen Schnizer, spokesman of the FFI Board, commented on the current study: “Unfortunately, the communication contribution of packaging is still underestimated. The present study shows that cartonboard enhances organic products. A sustainable product strategy is best accepted by consumers if it also embraces packaging”.
Horst Bittermann, President of Pro Carton, goes one step further: “We are convinced that in the near future product stewardship, i.e. the overall responsibility for a product in every phase of its life cycle, will prevail in industry. Above all, the packaging should not leave any footprints in the environment and must therefore be biodegradable.”
The English version can be found here.
To see the video of the interview, click on the thumbnail below: