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  • Writer's pictureSarah Banks

Connecting Emotionally with Shoppers through Packaging

Packaging is in the spotlight like never before – mostly for the wrong reasons. Since Blue Planet II, the UK population has seemingly woken up en masse to the possibility that plastic = bad. For some shoppers it’s that simple (see our earlier blog titled - 'One Shopper Against Plastic' for the take of a particularly motivated shopper). For others, it's a gateway to a new kind of shopping hell: guilt and confusion over what really are the best alternatives and a struggle to escape the dependency on convenience.

Fig 1 - Share of responsibility for environmental protection/sustainability - Total (n=1018)

Shoppers are taking responsibility

What is clear is that shoppers care

(Fig 1). They want to take action and need help doing so. They are willing to take a share of the responsibility, but also believe that government, retailers and manufacturers have a larger duty in tackling sustainability issues.

Emotions motivate decision making

Either way, saving the planet through a more conscious consumerism has become a highly emotive and motivating topic. And that’s the point; emotions motivate. Ultimately they drive behaviour. It’s why ethical product and packaging choices are now finding their way into more Purchase Decision Hierarchies - particularly fresh food, household cleaning and toiletries.

Winning Shoppers’ hearts ethically

Packaging used to ‘just’ be about functionality, desirability, stand-out and communication. Now ‘doing the right thing’ - has become a priority for many shoppers weighing up which product to purchase:

29% of shoppers say they always buy loose fruit and veg in order to reduce plastic waste.

42% try to avoid single use plastic in general.

• Easy-to-recycle packaging options are chosen frequently by 43%.

• And two thirds of shoppers are wanting the choice taken out of their hands completely and non-recyclable packaging to be banned.

Pukka tea packs are not only beautiful, but also printed with vegetable dyes and made from FSC certified card. Image Source:

Sustainable Profit

Ultimately this offers both a challenge and a real opportunity for retailers and manufacturers. Whether more ethically minded or margin motivated (perhaps no longer incompatible aims), leading the sustainability agenda is a means to adding value and winning consumer hearts. The Pukka teas brand is an excellent example of this.

As consumer behavioural researchers Zorfas and Leemon point out in their article for the Harvard Business Review, "The most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level—tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs."

Connecting emotionally with shoppers by communicating ethical, eco-friendly credentials on pack will likely become an essential element of successful pack design.

Mindtrace - New approaches to pack testing

It follows then, that the ways in which products and packaging are tested also need an upgrade. We need to measure how good shoppers feel about the choice they’re making when seeing the pack, not just how they rationally make the choice, or what they claim their choice will be. How do we best capture the emotional response (which has a higher correlation to sales potential) of a product?

We’ve thought about it a lot and consequently are developing a fit-for-purpose testing approach. The result will be a new suite of pack-testing tools that integrate virtual shelf testing with the eye-tracking, emotion-decoding and engagement monitoring power of MindTrace. It’s all done from the comfort of a respondent’s laptop or PC – making it surprisingly accessible. Driving this development are two key philosophies we strongly believe in; evaluating packaging within a competitive context and gaining insight from system 1 implicit testing approaches.

Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more or get involved with this new, powerful approach by emailing:

Sarah Banks

Follow Shoppercentric on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Zorfas, A. & Leemon, D., 2016. Harvard Business Review. [Online]

Available at:

[Accessed 14th August 2019].


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