Maximizing the Communicative Persuasiveness of Environmental Products: An exploratory study of the effects of nonverbal visual and material packaging design on product quality attributions
Practitioners frequently use ecological designed semantic on packaging to provide consumers with information about the environmental quality of the product itself. However, discrepancies between packaging cues and actual pro-environmental product quality trigger confusion and mistrust regarding organic products (i.e., “greenwashing” a conventional product with ecological semantics, “conventional-washing” an organic product with conventional semantics”). This study sought to understand whether (nonverbal) ecological packaging semantics would equate to increases in attributed environmental product quality; the persuasiveness of nonverbal packaging design media (i.e., visual, material), effects on further quality attributions and marketing-relevant variables (e.g., trustworthiness, willingness to pay) and the influence of consumers’ environmental consciousness levels. Findings indicate robust spillover effects of ecological design communications on a product's perceived environmental friendliness, which in turn was correlated to further quality attributions and marketing-relevant variables (e.g., trustworthiness, willingness to pay). Moreover, individuals’ environmental consciousness (EC) showed as a relevant moderating variable, with spillover effects being more pronounced for individuals with rather low EC.