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Why Eco-Friendly Packaging Psychologically Backfires - And What To Do About It

Relevant topics Research, Archive

  • Neuromarketing Principle:
    The negative halo-effect can cause surprising buying behaviour when trying to use sustainable product packaging. However, companies have the power to change consumer believes about the sustainability of their products.
  • Application:
    Improved label trust and selling pro-environmental products positively affects buying choices.
  • Do you know how eco-friendly packaging affects our buying behaviour? Companies all over the world are trying new ways to be kind to the environment, especially when it comes to  packaging drinks like Carlsberg, Johnnie Walker, and Cantina Goccia, who are using cool paper bottles.

    Surprising Discoveries about Eco-Friendly Packaging and Labels

    Because people care about the environment and there are rules about using too much packaging, the food and drink industry is changing to use more "green packaging." Producers of drinks are leading the way with paper bottles that are good for the environment. These bottles also save money and have a much smaller impact on the environment compared to glass or plastic bottles. They are much lighter as well.

    Understanding the Halo Effect

    Now, let's talk about how our minds work when we see something we like. It's like a trick called the halo effect – if one part of a product is good, we tend to think everything about it is nice. Labels that say a product is eco-friendly usually make us feel positive about it. But guess what? New research is telling us a different story, especially when it comes to drinks in paper bottles.

    The Negative Halo Effect on Paper-Bottled Drinks

    In studies, people had lower expectations for things like taste and price when it came to drinks in paper bottles. This goes against our belief that eco-friendly packaging always makes things better.

    Mitigating the Negative Halo Effect

    Even so, here's some good news from another study: if companies use smart messages and make the packaging look good, it can change how people feel about buying and using drinks in paper bottles. Especially if they are for personal use or as gifts. Companies have the power to make people see these eco-friendly options in a better light.

    Labels, Trust, and Positive Thinking in Grocery Shopping:

    Now, let's switch to grocery shopping and see how labels that talk about the environment affect our choices.

    Carbon Footprint Labels: The Good, the Trustworthy, and the Power of Positive Thinking

    Researchers found:

    • Believing the Label Matters: Trust is super important. If people think a label is trustworthy, they're more likely to believe the product is genuinely good for the environment.
    • How People See the Environment Affects Buying Choices: If you believe a product is good for the environment, you're more likely to buy it. Our brains see this as a positive choice.
    • The Power of Positive Thinking for Plant-Based Foods: People automatically feel good about plant-based foods because they're good for the environment. This good feeling is so strong that it often outweighs the details in the label about the product's impact on the environment.


    To sum it up, our exploration of eco-friendly packaging and positive thinking from labels shows how tricky our choices can be. While the halo effect makes us feel good about drinks in paper bottles, companies can change our minds with smart messages and cool packaging. As companies try to be more environmentally friendly, understanding what people think is crucial. Let's keep our eyes open when making eco-friendly choices, considering both the creative packaging and the positive thinking influenced by labels.

  • Reference:

    Techawachirakul, M., Pathak, A., Motoki, K., & Calvert, G. A. (2023). Negative halo effects of sustainable packaging. Psychology & Marketing. https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21891

    Ang, M. Y. A., Pontes, N., & France, C. (2024). Unsustainable Burgers? Deploying carbon footprint labels to enhance sustainability perceptions of animal-based food products. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 76, 103567. https://doi.org/10.1016/j

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