Packaging That Cares: The Real Deal with Labelling Packaging

Packaging That Cares - Trending Packaging

We assume that consumers demand labelling because they want to know. But that may not be true at all. Maybe they just want to know they can know.


We wrote about the food labelling debate some time ago; and, before diving into today’s topic, we’d like to bring back something from that article. First, we defined the cause:

[quote style=”boxed”]“Most customers consider it necessary for food products to include labels, especially when dealing with genetic modification processes.”[/quote]

And then, the question:

[quote style=”boxed”]“At the end, it’s all a matter of people’s habits: do we, or do we not, focus on labels?”[/quote]

That remains unclear. But there’s something we didn’t consider in the whole debate; something that might clarify the question, not the answer. Something that Robert Lilienfeld, eco-insights blogger, recently noted in a Packaging Digest article:


The real deal of labelling might not be about the information, but about the presence and honesty of the label itself.


Take this for example: a just-released study at the University of Vermont resolved that many consumers don’t actually move away from food products with labels declaring GMO ingredients. Jane Kolodinsky, author of the study, put it like this in the original study, (cited by Lilienfeld):

[quote style=”boxed”]“When you look at consumer opposition to the use of GM technologies in food and account for the label, we found that overall the label has no direct impact on opposition. And it increased support for GM in some demographic groups.”[/quote]

Transgenics - Trending Packaging

That statement, at first sight, can seem irrational. Illogic. If people want to know which food products include GMOs, why do they then buy the products labelled as such? Slightly behind the citation, Lilienfeld himself states that:

[quote style=”boxed”]“In fact, research done at that time by P&G showed that while 95% of consumers said they were concerned about nutrition, only 5% actually read the information listed on packages. A more recent, 2011 study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, corroborated those results.”[/quote]

And, slightly after, he outlines the first fundamental concept in all this debate: transparency. It’s transparency that people care about: not GMOs, or transgenics, or any other hazards. Most consumers, as the P&G research revealed, don’t care about the label information.

But they want to know there’s a label, because there’s a second key concept: attention. As Lilienfeld puts it:

[quote style=”boxed”]“History shows that while people say they want information, what they really want is to believe that you care enough about them to provide it.”[/quote]

Labelled products seem more trustworthy. Safer. More respectful. Common sense appears to consider that bad things can’t be labelled ─ because they’re bad, and nobody would buy them. Thus, the GMOs debate is minimized into a simple concept: what gets hidden, gets dreaded.

Hence Lilienfeld advice: go full disclosure, both in your products’ labelling and in your packagings’.

Being sincere won’t hurt you, but fear the opposite.


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