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About the Project

Currently, many sustainable packages in the marketplace fail to communicate sustainable information sufficiently and accurately, making it hard for consumers to clearly distinguish them from normal packages. This situation restricts the prospect of sustainable packaging. Prior research indicated that this dilemma about information miscommunication might be solved through proper utilization of visual cues like material appearance and eco-label, since they can help to better signal sustainability. However, the atypical appearance brought by these sustainable design cues may bring reduced consumer acceptance because of the perceived risks and even arouse skepticism of “greenwashing” due to sustainable information overload. Furthermore, brand equity was found to influence consumers’ perception of atypical product design. Besides the general brand strength, brand ethicality has an exceptionally close connection to sustainable packaging.

Therefore, this study aims to test the effects of visual cues (material appearance and eco-label) and brand ethicality on consumers’ sustainability perception, quality evaluation, and purchase intention. A 2 × 2 × 2 between-subject experiment was designed and implemented among Dutch consumers in an online survey, both for chocolate paste and for a cereal bar. We expect that the research findings can offer companies more insights about how to benefit their businesses by creating sustainable packages with more positive consumer responses.


Project team

Runlang Wang
Dr. Rick Schifferstein
Marielle Creusen