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Emotions and rationality of consumers in the world of soft fruit packaging Part 3/3

Part 3: Purchasing behaviour

Consumers' view of sustainable packaging, and their purchasing behaviour

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. In part 2, we shared the results of the survey into the emotional impact of strawberries and the emotional and rational criteria for the purchase of strawberries.

Here, in part 3, we discuss the results of the survey into consumer buying behaviour.

In the purchasing simulation without price and packaging information, 55% of consumers indicated that their first choice would be the pulp packaging (with flow pack film or top seal film). Furthermore, 30% of the consumers indicated no preference for any of the packaging options, and that they would buy the strawberries anyway, regardless of the packaging. The consumer preferences are illustrated below, in sequence of their first choice.

In the subsequent purchasing simulation, strawberries were offered in a variety of packaging options, including pricing and packaging information. Seeing as 61% of the respondents claimed not to buy products with too much packaging, for ecological reasons, the question is to what extent they actually followed through this claim during the purchasing decision?

From experience, market researchers know that consumers often subconsciously decide differently to their (so-called) thought pattern and 'rational" expression. As an illustrative example: the toothpaste market would be approximately 3 times its current size if users indeed brushed their teeth as often as they claim to.

The choices made by the consumers during the purchasing simulation were therefore also compared with their earlier claims during the survey. When the choice of packaging deviated significantly from the earlier claims, these results were considered invalid – the respondents were 'not credible' – and were removed from the survey.

In purchasing simulations with information on pricing and packaging, the plastic PET packaging options scored higher. The reasons why consumers would buy strawberries in a plastic packaging are the lower price and the transparency. Transparency makes it possible to check the quality of the strawberries, which is so important! This is the 39% of the consumers who are 'less green' and unwilling to accept a higher price for a sustainable packaging. The pulp and cardboard packaging options, on the other hand, meet the requirements of the more environmentally conscious target groups who are willing to pay a higher price. The resultant preferences are illustrated below, in sequence of their first choice.

The key insights of the survey are:

  • the concepts concerned in sustainability, such as “carbon footprint" and "biodegradable” are not fully understood.
  • consumers are poorly informed when it comes to sustainability in general and the sustainability of the various packaging materials.
  • environmental hallmarks have little influence on purchasing behaviour, though 90% of the consumers say that they would appreciate a simple explanation on the packaging, in order to be able to separate waste packaging materials effectively.
  • strawberries have the highest emotional importance and evoke strong emotions, when compared with apples, grapes, oranges, blueberries and even cherries.
  • the flavour, colour, freshness, ripeness, texture, vitamin content and appearance are much more important purchasing criteria for consumers, than that the strawberries are ecologically sourced.
  • All criteria that safeguard the quality (protect) and visibility (transparency for checking purposes) of the strawberries are important, much more so than all the ecological criteria.
  • 30% of the consumers indicated no preference for any of the packaging options, and would buy the strawberries anyway, regardless of the packaging.
  • pulp and cardboard packaging options, on the other hand, meet the requirements of the more environmentally conscious target groups who are willing to pay a higher price.
  • the reasons why consumers would buy strawberries in a plastic packaging are the lower price and the transparency. Transparency makes it possible to check the quality of the strawberries, which is so important! This is the 39% of the consumers who are 'less green' and unwilling to accept a higher price for a sustainable packaging.

NNZ also conducted the same survey for blueberries and blueberry packaging options. Interested in the results? Feel free to contact us.

NNZ the packaging network
Alies Padding
mob: +31 6 21221154
Aarhusweg 1
9723 JJ Groningen
The Netherlands

About NNZ

NNZ is an international company specialising in packaging for customers in the fruit and vegetable sector and industry. Since its foundation in 1922, the family business has steadily developed into an organisation with around 250 employees and an extensive global network of its own branches and partners.

The strength of this network lies in its ability to increase its competitive strength. Like NNZ, the partners in our network can be characterised as sustainable and social, product leaders, customer-oriented, innovative, trendsetters, flexible and transparent, reliable and ethical.

We at NNZ regard our employees as our best assets. We are convinced that this leads to more creativity and productivity, and that is of the utmost importance for our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. We aim to work on a highly personal basis, passionately and enjoyable according to the plan we have made together. Our motto is: 'Together is better'. Together we deliver our customers sustainable customization, logistics solutions and innovation through co-creation.

We are able to meet this need with our subsidiaries at strategic locations in the various countries. We work with our clients and a diverse team of professionals; specialists in the fields of materials, food technology, graphic design and market research. Together we work on tailor-made products, from concept to market launch. For each link in the chain, we offer customer-specific, smart solutions!

Our standard range consists of: net bags, jute bags, paper packaging, woven PP bags, films, cardboard, trays, PP/PET cups, fresh produce buckets, Big Bags and pallet stabilization materials. NNZ also supplies customised packaging. We apply the highest standards of sustainability, efficiency and food safety to all packaging. Our customers thus benefit from our excellent purchasing conditions and high-quality products.