The Big Picture’s research reveals consumers pick-up emotive ‘feel-good’ designs

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 supermarket aisle.

New in-depth consumer research from The Big Picture design research agency reveals that 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.

The Big Picture’s expert design researchers carried out a series of in-depth qualitative interviews with consumers to gain insight on an area that is increasingly crucial for its major FMCG marketing team clients, which include Unilever and Reckitt & Benckiser.

They found that packs with dominant images of people or animals benefiting from the product’s sustainability were seen as ‘greenest’ by consumers when they were shown a range of packs in the tea & 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.

Suranee Abeysuriya, The Big Picture director who designed the research, says: “Our analysis suggests brands need to consider big, bold and obvious emotive images if they want to be considered sustainable to the vast majority of shoppers when all other factors are equal, such as price and quality perception.

She added: “Consumers seem to have been turned-off by the dominant culture over recent years of top-down, finger-wagging messages about changing behaviour to be more sustainable, and they therefore seem to screen out logos and rational information on packs.

Instead they look for feel-good factors which mean they can make an easy, instant contribution to sustainability at point of purchase,” she explained.

The findings have been welcomed by leading packaging design agency Brand Opus. Managing Partner, Nir Wegrzyn says, “The results of this research are extremely interesting, and suggest that the role of branding is more important than the additional visual messaging on pack.

He adds: “Hopefully these findings will encourage marketing departments to stop shouldering the responsibility that political policy places on sustainability, and understand that it is the brand’s role to make products that meet consumers’ needs.  The brand winners will be those who shift consumers towards sustainable mindset gradually whilst staying true to brand values, rather than jumping on the eco-bandwagon”.

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Date / Fecha: 06/12/11

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