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Emotions and rationality of consumers in the world of soft fruit packaging Part 2/3

Part 2 Purchasing criteria

Consumers' view of sustainable packaging, and their purchasing behaviour

To what extent is sustainability and sustainable packaging truly important for consumers? Do consumers actually follow through on what they claim to purchase? What do consumers name as being important, and how do they act in a simulated purchasing situation?

In order to answer these questions, NNZ, market leader in vegetable and fruit packaging, recently conducted a large-scale survey in Germany (more than 300 interviews and 11,700 purchasing stimulations). NNZ conducted the survey using packaging materials for blueberries and strawberries. The initial results of the survey into strawberries and strawberry packaging options were presented and enthusiastically received at the European Packaging Forum in Düsseldorf.

We shall be sharing the results of the survey in a series of 3 articles. In part 1, we shared consumer views regarding sustainability and sustainable packaging materials, and checked consumer knowledge on the subject.

Here, in part 2, we discuss the results of the survey in terms of the criteria that influence the purchasing decisions, based on the following questions:

  • What is the emotional impact of fruit and what associations do consumers have with strawberries?
  • What are the main emotional and rational criteria for consumers when purchasing strawberries?

What is the emotional impact of fruit and what is the association with strawberries?

'The heart has its reasons which reason knows not', is a piece of wisdom by Blaise Pascal (1647). A study of the brain many years ago showed that people take virtually all decisions subconsciously and emotionally, rather than rationally. The same applies to purchasing decisions of course, which is a challenge for market researchers: 'Will the consumer actually buy what he/she claims to buy?' The NNZ therefore had the survey conducted by the specialised institute of Dr. Ralf Mayer de Groot.

Seeing as emotions influence our purchasing behaviour, a study was made of the emotional impact of and association with strawberries. It showed strawberries to have the highest emotional importance and to evoke strong emotions, when compared with apples, grapes, oranges, blueberries and even cherries.

Strawberries are associated with happy memories, that wonderful summer feeling, friends, love, romance.

What are the emotional purchasing criteria for strawberries?

The main emotional criteria for strawberries are the delicious flavour, attractive red colour, freshness and perfect ripeness. All these aspects are a measure of the quality of the strawberries. Consumers attach much greater importance to these quality criteria than that the strawberries are grown in an ecologically sound manner.

What are the rational purchasing criteria for strawberry packaging options?

The packaging must protect the strawberries and must guarantee visibility of the contents, so that consumers can check the quality of the strawberries.

As far as consumers are concerned, the safeguarding of the quality of strawberries by the packaging is more important than all the analysed ecological criteria.

However, 61% of the respondents (see graph above) indicate they would prefer not to buy certain packaging options, on the basis of ecological grounds. And so consumers have conflicting issues. A cardboard or pulp packaging that is perceived to be 'environment-friendly' does not offer good visibility of the contents. A plastic packaging offers good visibility but is often perceived to be 'environment-unfriendly', on the other hand. The main question is therefore: 'Do consumers actually follow through on what they claim to do?'

In the following article, we discuss the results of purchasing simulations for strawberry packaging options, in order to answer this question.

NNZ also conducted the same survey for blueberries and blueberry packaging options. Interested in the results? Feel free to contact us.

NNZ the packaging network
Alies Padding
+31 6 21221154
Aarhusweg 1
9723 JJ Groningen
The Netherlands


NNZ is a multinational company owned and run by the family Boot since 1922. Its employees create packaging solutions for their clients in the fresh produce and industrial market. In 1922 NNZ started trading jute bags from 'Pakhuis Libau' in Groningen (The Netherlands), the start of a family business with international ambitions.
Today, NNZ has grown into an organisation with more than 250 employees, serving clients from offices in Austria, BeNeLux, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Italy, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, South Africa, United Kingdom, USA.
In close cooperation with our partners in 40 other countries NNZ provides packaging solutions to a worldwide customer base.