Getting packaging right can convince consumers that a product’s ethical claims are real, suggests a study released by business analyst Datamonitor.

According to the ‘Offering Ethicality and Sustainability in Food and Drinks’ study, although over half of consumers globally reported that protecting the environment is more important to them now than two years ago, this didnt translate into their grocery purchasing behaviour except when it comes to packaging.

About 57% of consumers thought that it is important to buy ethical or socially responsible products, but only 42% reported altering their habits to do so, revealing a significant disconnect between what consumers perceive as important to their purchasing habits and what they actually buy.

However, the study also suggests that exactly the same proportion of consumers said packaging was a key consideration in their purchase decisions, to those who changed their buying habits to include products with reduced packaging.

“The more tangible nature of packaging allows consumers to actually see and feel the difference they are making. Sustainable packaging is a claim that can be physically substantiated, rather than just supported by a stamp or logo which can draw considerable scepticism,” explained Katrina Diamonon, Datamonitor consumer markets analyst.

The study also found that sustainable packaging can also serve to validate other ethical claims – the benefit of reduced or biodegradable packaging can add significant credibility to any other environmental or sustainable credentials.

“It is clear that although consumers place a great deal of importance on protecting the environment, when it comes to actually changing their behaviour, the most common changes are those which require minimal effort or planning. Seeking recyclable and sustainable packaging is a relatively simple measure consumers can take to fight climate change,” concluded Diamonon.