Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 154, Issue 2, pp 355–370 | Cite as

“Thinking Outside the Packaging Box”: Should Brands Consider Store Shelf Context When Eliminating Overpackaging?

  • Elisa Monnot
  • Fanny ReniouEmail author
  • Béatrice Parguel
  • Leila Elgaaied-Gambier
Original Paper


Governmental policies are encouraging companies to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging and particularly overpackaging, which raises a broad range of ethical considerations. However, experiments comparing an overpackaged product with a non-overpackaged product have shown that eliminating overpackaging may have a negative influence on brand image and consumer purchase intention. In this paper, we draw on attribution theory to examine the influence of the absence (vs. presence) of overpackaging on consumers’ response, depending on their environmental consciousness and the absence (vs. presence) of overpackaging on the competing product. An experiment conducted on 218 consumers demonstrates that non-overpackaging for a target product only adversely affects purchase intention among non-environmentally conscious consumers when competing products are overpackaged. These results lead to optimistic recommendations for marketing managers and public policy makers to help them solve the ethical dilemma linked to overpackaging.


Consumer behavior Ethical dilemma Overpackaging Environmental consciousness Context effects Attribution 



This study was funded by Movida research programme of French Ministry of Environment, Sustainable Development and Energy.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisa Monnot
    • 1
  • Fanny Reniou
    • 2
    Email author
  • Béatrice Parguel
    • 3
  • Leila Elgaaied-Gambier
    • 1
  1. 1.Université de Cergy-Pontoise, Thema, CNRS UMR 8184Cergy Pontoise CedexFrance
  2. 2.Université Paris-Est, IRG (EA 2354)Créteil CedexFrance
  3. 3.Université Paris-Dauphine, PSL Research University, CNRS, UMR 7088, DRM, M-LABParis Cedex 16France

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