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“Thinking Outside the Packaging Box”: Should Brands Consider Store Shelf Context When Eliminating Overpackaging?

Abstract

Governmental policies are encouraging companies to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging and particularly overpackaging, which raises a broad range of ethical considerations. However, experiments comparing an overpackaged product with a non-overpackaged product have shown that eliminating overpackaging may have a negative influence on brand image and consumer purchase intention. In this paper, we draw on attribution theory to examine the influence of the absence (vs. presence) of overpackaging on consumers’ response, depending on their environmental consciousness and the absence (vs. presence) of overpackaging on the competing product. An experiment conducted on 218 consumers demonstrates that non-overpackaging for a target product only adversely affects purchase intention among non-environmentally conscious consumers when competing products are overpackaged. These results lead to optimistic recommendations for marketing managers and public policy makers to help them solve the ethical dilemma linked to overpackaging.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by Movida research programme of French Ministry of Environment, Sustainable Development and Energy.

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Correspondence to Fanny Reniou.

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Monnot, E., Reniou, F., Parguel, B. et al. “Thinking Outside the Packaging Box”: Should Brands Consider Store Shelf Context When Eliminating Overpackaging?. J Bus Ethics 154, 355–370 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-017-3439-0

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Keywords

  • Consumer behavior
  • Ethical dilemma
  • Overpackaging
  • Environmental consciousness
  • Context effects
  • Attribution