Sustainable Logos’ Effect On Consumer Purchase Decisions

sustainability rating logo image

Do sustainability logos on packaging affect consumer purchase decisions? Amid a torrent of media coverage on the issue of sustainability, many FMCG companies feel that sustainability claims on packaging are important to consumer purchase decisions. This article summarises a report on a study commissioned by US-based Quad Packaging to answer this latter question.

Big Brands are Committing to Sustainability

The report begins by referring to some research reports have shown that consumers are more aware of sustainability and that they are willing, in some cases, to pay more for products and/or packaging that is more sustainable than a similar product that is not sustainable. That report also lists many well-known brands, such as McDonald’s, Pepsi and Amazon that have publicly committed to becoming more sustainable.

This has led FMCG companies to feel sustainability claims on packaging are essential. This leads companies to struggle with fitting all of the required information and sustainability logos on their packaging. This is made more difficult by the fact that 90% of consumers in a retail store will only look at the front of the package before making their purchase decision.

The Sustainable Logo on Packaging Study

The study was carried out by Package InSight, a Clemson University partner that studies package performance, consumer attention and shelf impact.

Methodology for Sustainable Logo on Packaging Study


The report then outlines in detail the methodology used in the study. The essential facts about this methodology are that it was carried out in a retail laboratory and researchers designed sample packaging for the sample “brands”. They also created a sustainability logo, which included sustainability rating and applied these to the sample packages for the study.

sustainability rating logo image

Source: Quad Packaging

The sustainability logos were graded A, B, C. (An A graded logo represented the most sustainable packaging, B the next most sustainable and C was the least sustainable packaging.) This allowed the researchers to test the effect of sustainability logos on consumers purchase decisions. There were 60 participants in this study.

Eye-tracking technology was used to monitor at what packages and in what shelf areas the participants were looking.
The market categories chosen include frozen food, pasta, beverage, snack and medical supplies. New package designs were created for each category.

cartons with sustainable logos

Source: Quad Packaging

Results of the sustainability logo on packaging study.

The results varied within the five different market categories measured. The main factors measured in the study were as follows:

How quickly did participants notice the packaging, with and without the sustainability logo?

The purpose of measuring this was to see if participants noticed packages with a sustainability logo faster than packages with no sustainability logo. In the Health and Frozen food categories, the packages with sustainability logo were noticed faster than those packages without a sustainability logo. In the Pasta, Beverage and Medical Supplies categories, the packages without the sustainability logo were noticed faster.

Once a participant had noticed the packaging (with or without the sustainability logo), for how long did they look at it?

On this factor, packages in the frozen and medical supplies categories with a sustainability logo held the attention of the participants longer than the same packages without a sustainability logo. However, in the other three categories, the packages without a sustainability logo performed better.

According to the eye-tracking technology data results,
92% of the study participants did not notice the sustainability logos.

In what market categories did the participants think most about packaging sustainability?

The results of this factor can be seen from the graph below. It is clear that participants think most about packaging sustainability when they are buying food.

The question posed: Which product categories make you think more about sustainable packaging?

sustainability concerns by market sector graph

Source: Quad Packaging

The conclusions from “Sustainable Logos’ Effect On Consumer Decisions” Study

What can we conclude from this study? The study itself concludes that the use of sustainability logos does not positively affect consumer purchase decision making.
However, we believe this is too simplistic a conclusion to arrive at due to the following reasons:

The results varied within the market categories – in specific categories, the packages with sustainability logos outperformed the packages with no sustainability logos
The results could have been influenced by
the design and placement of the sustainability logos.
2) while the study methodology seemed to be to a very high standard, the fact that there were only 60 participants and that it was carried out in a retail laboratory as opposed to an actual retail environment could have affected the results.

Key takeaway

The sustainability movement is here to stay. If your business cares about the environment, then it makes sense to let your customers know what steps you are taking to make your product and packaging more sustainable. This is particularly important if you sell food products as sustainability matters more to consumers when buying food products, according to the study results.

You cannot rely on your packaging only to convey your message about your sustainability efforts. For your business to benefit from your sustainability efforts, you need to get this message across at every customer “touch point” – i.e. your social media pages, your website, at any in-store events etc as well as on your packaging.

If you would like to read more about how you can make your carton more sustainable, you can read our previous blogs below.

7 Ways to Make your Carton More Sustainable

Eco-friendly Window Patch Material for Cartons

If you would like help with any aspect of your packaging, please contact us at Dollard Packaging 01847 0044

You can download the Quad Packaging Report here.