The hedonistic consumer and how to make overriding environmental and social goals palatable to him through packaging
Consumers today are more selective than they were a few years ago. They are increasingly consuming what is good for them, or what they believe is good for them. In other words, many modern consumers are hedonists, they consume according to the pleasure principle. But what does that mean exactly and how can brands do justice to this trend when designing product packaging? Let’s talk a little bit about that.
What characterizes the modern hedonistic consumer?
The term hedonism comes from ancient Greek and translates as desire or pleasure. A hedonist focuses his life on pleasure. He strives for everything that makes him feel good. Especially with regard to food, hedonistic behavior has been in vogue for quite some time.
But anyone who assumes that modern hedonistic consumers are constantly snacking on chocolates and other sugar bombs or preparing their meals with extra fat is mistaken. In the DACH region, but also in the rest of Europe, the new hedonistic eating culture also includes the component of omission.
To some, this may seem like abandonment. But it should not be seen that way. In the wake of other emerging trends, there have also been major changes in what consumers actually find pleasurable and enjoyable to eat. And increasingly, these are foods that help the body stay in good shape.
In short, today’s hedonistic consumers practice a kind of healthy hedonism. He combines pleasure with health-promoting and health-promoting with pleasure – and seeks individual solutions to put this particular pleasurable lifestyle into practice. Incidentally, the same applies with regard to the sustainability trend.
This clearly observable development has already created a good basis for convincing consumers of one’s own brand with products that focus on health and/or sustainability in their various facets. However, there are of course still many “classic” hedonists who have so far been unimpressed by overriding goals for themselves and their environment and simply (continue to) consume what they have at some point come to know as delicious, even if that means harming themselves, others and/or nature.
What can a company in the food industry that is consciously oriented toward the health and sustainability trend do to transform classic consumers into modern hedonistic consumers, i.e., to make them want healthy and sustainable hedonism?
How do you awaken the desire for Healthy and Sustainable Hedonism?
Basically, there are two approaches: a positive and a negative one. The negative one is (unfortunately) still the dominant one and looks like this: One tries to impose the need to support the implementation of higher-level goals on consumers, so to speak, by instilling fear.
Typical example: “We must avoid plastic because otherwise the great climate catastrophe will occur.”
But if you look around and have a bit of psychological knowledge, you can see that negative associations and fear commonly do not result in the desired behavior.
We can also use a very simple phenomenon here that everyone is probably familiar with: say to yourself, “I am NOT thinking about polar bears going extinct as a result of climate change.” What happens? Probably images of suffering polar bears immediately come to mind. Our brain can’t do anything with the word “not.” Therefore, you should always motivate yourself for desired changes with positive affirmations.
It is basically the same with the targeted profound transformation of classical into modern hedonistic consumers.
Example: If you want to convince consumers of vegan products, you have two main options:
1. one can propagate that animal products, especially meat, are bad and unhealthy. = negative
2. you can advertise that vegan products taste delicious, are good for health and also protect both animal welfare and the environment. = positive
Both campaigns or strategies have the same goal, but try to approach it in completely different ways. In view of psychological findings and the perceptible developments in the market, it is obvious that the positively guided approach will ultimately always be more successful than the negative one.
What does this mean for the design of packaging?
Quite simply, we should provide packaging with inviting rather than repellent messages, in other words, design it with positive connotations. In this way, we can lead the hedonistic consumer in the direction of healthy and sustainable without forcing him. Positively presented messages motivate because they trigger optimism in the recipient.
In this way – and only in this way – do we actually have the chance to get many people excited about higher-level goals and to bring about behavioral changes that are just as healthy and sustainable as the products your company wants to sell successfully.
And one more thing: Once the majority of consumers accept the “good”, so will those companies that currently still rely on the approval of classic hedonists.
At B+P Creality, we always design packaging according to consumer needs. To do this, we analyze the target group of the brand in question and look at what is important to them and what generally goes down well in the market. And fortunately, these are increasingly things that protect our planet and improve our quality of life.