How Green is Green? How consumers perceive differences in environmentally friendly product information on the packaging of non-durable non-food consumer goods

Hanna Hebbeln

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Over the last decades, there has been an increasing awareness of the importance of an environmentally friendly corporate behavior for business and society, respectively (Snider et al., 2003; Sen & Bhattacharya, 2001). Consequently, companies more and more communicate their environmental efforts through eco-labeling and other environmentally friendly communication elements on the packaging of their products (Polonsky et al., 1998), whereby the labels and claims differ in credibility (United Nations Environment Programme, 2012; Darley & Smith, 1993). The question is here, whether consumers are able and willing to perceive differences between the many labeling schemes and communication elements, since there exist different perspectives in literature (Hansen & Kull, 1994; Enger & Lavik, 1995). Therefore, the paper aims to investigate, how consumers perceive differences in environmentally friendly product information on the packaging of non-durable non-food consumer goods, such as different types of eco-labeling and other visual and verbal elements of environmentally friendly communication that can be displayed on the product packaging. This should be investigated with the help of a qualitative and quantitative study. First, semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted to investigate the consumers’ underlying mental constructions, when evaluating the perceived environmental friendliness of different products and afterwards a survey questionnaire was constructed in order to generate more reliable and generalizable responses from a larger, more varied sample. The findings suggest that consumers perceive differences in credibility, when it comes to environmentally friendly product communication displayed on the packaging. A high perceived environmental friendliness of non-durable non-food consumer goods is determined by third-party certified labels, different verbal and visual elements, as well as an environmentally friendly packaging and the transparency of the ingredients. Here, the extent to which these communication elements influence the perceived environmental friendliness of a product is defined by their degree of credibility, standardization, explicitness, visibility and the interplay between the elements.

EducationsCand.merc.smc Strategic Market Creation, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2013
Number of pages608