Sustainable strawberry packaging

NNZ research: What consumers really want from soft fruit packaging: part 2 of 3

Part 2 of 3: Criteria that influence the purchasing decisions

To what extent is sustainability and sustainable packaging truly important for consumers? Do consumers actually follow through on what they claim to purchase? What do consumers name as being important, and how do they act in a simulated purchasing situation?

In order to answer these questions, NNZ, market leader in vegetable and fruit packaging, recently conducted a large-scale survey in Germany (more than 300 interviews and 11,700 purchasing stimulations). NNZ conducted the survey using packaging materials for blueberries and strawberries. The initial results of the survey into strawberries and strawberry packaging options were presented and enthusiastically received at the European Packaging Forum in Düsseldorf.

We shall be sharing the results of the survey in a series of 3 articles. In part 1 we shared consumer views regarding sustainability and sustainable packaging materials, and checked consumer knowledge on the subject.

Purchasing behaviour strwberries

In this blog we share the results of the survey in terms of the criteria that influence the purchasing decisions, based on the following questions:

  • What is the emotional impact of fruit and what is the association with strawberries?
  • What are the rational purchasing criteria for strawberry packaging options?

‘The heart has its reasons which reason knows not’, is a piece of wisdom by Blaise Pascal (1647). A study of the brain many years ago showed that people take virtually all decisions subconsciously and emotionally, rather than rationally. The same applies to purchasing decisions of course, which is a challenge for market researchers: ‘Will the consumer actually buy what he/she claims to buy?’ The NNZ therefore had the survey conducted by the specialised institute of Dr. Ralf Mayer de Groot As emotions influence our purchasing behaviour, a study was made of the emotional impact of and association with strawberries.

It showed strawberries to have the highest emotional importance and to evoke strong emotions, when compared with apples, grapes, oranges, blueberries and even cherries. The main emotional criteria for strawberries are the delicious flavour, attractive red colour, freshness and perfect ripeness. All these aspects are a measure of the quality of the strawberries. Consumers attach much greater importance to these quality criteria than that the strawberries are grown in an ecologically sound manner.

The packaging must protect the strawberries and must guarantee visibility of the contents, so that consumers can check the quality of the strawberries. As far as consumers are concerned, the safeguarding of the quality of strawberries by the packaging is more important than all the analysed ecological criteria.

Rational criteria strawberries
The quality of strawberries by the packaging is more important than all the analysed ecological criteria.

However, 61% of the respondents (see graph above) indicate they would prefer not to buy certain packaging options, on the basis of ecological grounds. And so consumers have conflicting issues. A cardboard or pulp packaging that is perceived to be ‘environment-friendly’ does not offer good visibility of the contents. A plastic packaging offers good visibility but is often perceived to be ‘environment-unfriendly’, on the other hand. The main question is therefore: ‘Do consumers actually follow through on what they claim to do?’


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