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It's Not Easy Being Green:
Mars Bar Gets a Recyclable Paper Wrapper in the UK Trial

Anna Kupriyanova
New packaging of well-known brands tends to catch the eye of consumers. Or does it? And most importantly, does it stimulate consumers to learn more about the product, tell others and want to buy it?
Mars recently launched a trial of it's new environmentally-friendly packaging made from recyclable paper. This pilot project is limited to 500 Tesco stores in the UK. We are eager to see how the Brits feel about the new design compared to the classic plastic packaging of the Mars bar.
Top: classic Mars bar design with plastic packaging. Bottom: new Mars bar design with paper packaging
Stimuli: Two images of Mars chocolate bars with different design (one plastic, one paper packaging).
Target: United Kingdom, male, female, from 18 to 65 years, 100 respondents per ad sample size, 200 respondents in total.
Research Solution: Design Test — a ready-to-use research solution by Fastuna (online survey).
Design Test solution: packaging design comparison table
Visual n.1 in the graph above is the traditional black plastic packaging of the Mars bar, and visual n.2 is the new, recyclable paper packaging with a green label. It's peculiar that the general score for the two options is almost identical, but the plastic packaging is marked as below average, while the new paper packaging is above average. Why is that? To understand this we need to see the bigger picture - a detailed breakdown of the two visuals by 9 separate criteria below.
Design Test solution: breakdown of two designs by 9 criteria
First things first - noticeability. Although not ideal, the paper bar scored much higher than the plastic bar. The new design is more eye-catching than the old one. In fact, the "noticeability" score is very close to the "purchase at price" score. Consumers are more willing to purchase the paper wrapped bar. They are also more likely to learn more about it and tell others. So, the general perception score was heavily affected by the bottom three criteria: "learn more", "purchase at price" and "tell others". All three are higher for the paper bar, however it is not a very significant difference. Therefore, at this point, we can't conclude that one is clearly better than the other.

Interestingly enough, the respondents didn't feel the paper bar was that relevant. It scored below the average, while the plastic bar scored very high in relevance. This raises the question of importance of the environmental aspect to the consumers. Here is what some of them said in an opened-ended question that is also part of the report:
Mars has always been my favourite chocolate bar and see it now advertising recyclable package only improves my opinion of the brand. — Male, 54 (on the paper packaging)
It is the classic design of a Mars taste - a firm, recognisable favourite — Female, 41 (on the plastic packaging)
Do consumers like your design? Which option is better? Does it stimulate to action? How can you improve it? With the Design Test research solution, you can test images of products or prototypes. Getting actionable results only requires 15 minutes of your time.
Moving towards sustainability is not a trend among corporations anymore, it's the new normal. Whether paper is better than plastic in terms of sales is a question yet to be answered. We are excited to see how the UK trial performs. While there is not a clear-cut better or worse design, the issues that our test uncovered could be used for further exploration and product adjustment.
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