Package-free products: how to improve pro-environmental buying behaviors among consumers

Francesca De Canio, Giampaolo Viglia, Cindy Lombart

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The packaging of consumer goods is considered a main cause of household waste. Worldwide institutions are pressing companies to realize solutions that minimize packaging and comply with sustainable development goals (SDGs). Similarly, emerging EU Directives are prompting countries and operators to cut off the packaging of fast-moving consumer goods. The offer of package-free products – alternatively named bulk products – represents an effective solution. Applying a mixed method approach to data collected during and after the pandemic, this paper explores consumers' propensity for bulk products, identifying potential benefits and barriers consumers face when buying package-free products. We find that consumers are keen to buy bulk products not to conform to society but as they perceive it as a personal contribution to environmental protection. However, greater familiarity with package-free products is necessary for adopting this emerging pro-environmental behavior. Thus, we encourage i) manufacturers to develop and propose new package-free lines, ii) retailers to provide package-free assortment options to attract new consumer targets, iii) institutions and policymakers to promote sustainable behavior among citizens favoring familiarity with this shopping option.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122995
Number of pages9
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date14 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • package-free products
  • buying behavior
  • environmental concern
  • sustainability
  • complexity theory
  • mixed-method
  • fsQCA

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