Is sustainability messaging getting through? Consumers support it—but don’t see it

by | May 30, 2018 | Public Relations

Consumers say that sustainability influences their purchases—but most don’t notice sustainability branding on packaging, according to a new study by QuadPackaging (QP) and Package InSight, a Clemson University partner. The research examined whether or not shoppers’ behaviors are influenced by a visual sustainability rating system placed on the front of packaging.

Ninety-two percent of the study participants did not notice sustainability logos on the packages despite 53 percent of participants saying that a simple rating system would impact their purchase and over 40 percent claiming sustainability influences their buying decisions.

“These results are not surprising if you take into account the barrage of logos, seals and stamps found on consumer package goods claiming some form of sustainability,” said Paul Nowak, senior director of sales strategy and business development at QP, a division of Quad/Graphics. “Consumers have become numb to all the messaging on packaging, which hinders the penetration of sustainability claims.”

The firms collaborated to create generic packaging for food, beverage and health categories and a sustainability logo that replicated an inspection or grading concept—similar to the A-B-C grading of restaurants and the idea of validation of that grade by a larger industry association (e.g. Craft Brewer Seal).

Is sustainable messaging getting through? Consumers support it—but don’t see it

Participants “shopped” in a typical grocery store experience using mobile eye-tracking—the latest in biometric technology.

“People buy with their eyes,” said Dr. Julie Rice, associate director at Package InSight, in the release. “Using the eye-tracking technology in this study allowed us to provide insight into what draws an observer’s attention and cognitive process; in this case, there was little interest in the sustainability logos.”

QuadPackaging and Package InSight instead recommend that companies focus more on integrated marketing campaigns to educate customers about the efforts they are making and what their sustainability claims mean.

Is sustainable messaging getting through? Consumers support it—but don’t see it

“It might be important to your brand to include these logos, but you don’t need prime packaging real estate—awareness and education are more important to get through to consumers,” recommended Nowak.

Download the full study here.

This survey was conducted using eye-tracking technology with a total of 60 participants. The profiles meet an accepted shopper profile for this biometric research for primary or shared shopping responsibility for a U.S. household (70/30: female/male and broad income, education, employment, age, and other household influences). All studies are reviewed by Clemson University and tested with strict accordance to established test methods and protocols.

Is sustainable messaging getting through? Consumers support it—but don’t see it

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter