Packaging is more than just a container to provide protection for a product. In most cases it defines a brand’s identity. As such, it’s a very powerful weapon in the ongoing battle for the consumer. And herein lies its problem: some brands use packaging to mislead potential buyers and coerce them into buying something they might not really need. In this article we will explore 3 of the most common ethical issues a packaging designer or brand might face.
1) Misleading labels
Sometimes marketers use labels that are clearly misleading the consumer. They provide information that is untrue or is highly exaggerated. Labels that display nutrition information such as low fat, fat free, cholesterol free and 100% pure juice are common examples. If you think of fat-free milk for instance, one might think there are no calories in there whatsoever, when in fact that’s not the case.
2) Packaging graphics
When brands use pictures in packaging they have the tendency to make things look more attractive than they actually are. When the discrepancy between the image and the real thing is too big, you might end up misleading the consumer. In addition, some store brands or other small brands try to imitate the way big brands package their products while selling discount products, often leading to disappointed customers.
3) Environmental friendly packaging problems
Thriving on the success of environmentally friendly products, many brands label their products “green”, when in fact the product itself often doesn’t adhere to the same standards. For instance, degradable trash bags actually remain intact for decades in a landfill, while a lot of biodegradable packaging is gone in a matter of days.
Furthermore, packaging and labeling produce tons of excess waste that gets thrown out once the consumer has purchased the product. In other words, eco-friendly has to be taken with a pinch of salt in some cases.