The Effects of Material Appearance, Eco-label, and Brand Ethicality on Consumers' Perceived Packaging Sustainability

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Under the topic of sustainable packaging, this research looks into the effects of material appearance (ecological vs. conventional), eco-label, and brand ethicality on consumers' perceived sustainability as well as the subsequent product quality evaluation and purchase intention. A 2 × 2 × 2 between-subject experiment was designed and conducted to test the hypotheses among Dutch consumers based on two product categories: chocolate paste and cereal bars. First, in both food categories, eco-labels and ecological-looking materials both trigger higher sustainability perception. In the cereal bar category, an interaction effect was found that the eco-label has a more positive impact on consumers' sustainability perception when it's applied to conventional-looking packaging rather than ecological-looking packaging. Second, in the chocolate paste category, higher brand ethicality brings higher quality evaluation and purchase intention but has no effect on sustainability perception. Third, in the chocolate paste category, contrary to the increased sustainability perception, quality evaluation and purchase intention get lower when ecological-looking material is applied. Fourth, in the chocolate paste category, when consumers sense a higher fit between the product and the brand, their perceived packaging sustainability, quality evaluation, and purchase intention all increase accordingly.