Given the power of social media, it has become much easier for concerned consumers to make their voices heard. As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, it has also become necessary for companies to become proactive in anticipation of new, effectual environmental policies. These circumstances have given birth to innovative technologies that reduce carbon footprint and quantify environmental impact. With these driving factors pushing the packaging industry and its material suppliers towards a more sustainable future, how can and should companies respond?
Responding to Consumer Trends
Taking the pulse of consumers is the first step towards identifying meaningful solutions that will perpetuate sustainability in the packaging industry. Last year, McKinsey launched a survey in ten different countries and conducted an analysis to better understand how consumers felt about sustainable packaging. Here are a few key findings:
- In the US, over 50% of consumers are deeply concerned about the environmental impact of packaging, and 60-70% will pay more for a product packaged sustainably
- Packaging sustainability is a less important purchasing criterion than price, quality, brand, and convenience
- Consumers would buy sustainably packaged products if labeling was clearer, and if sustainable packaging was more ubiquitous
- US consumers are equally concerned about a broad range of sustainability issues including water and air pollution, climate change, waste production, and deforestation
These findings suggest that most consumers care about sustainability, but it is not a highly influential purchasing criterion when compared to competing factors such as price, quality, brand, and convenience. When sustainability information is harder to find, its influence is stifled, and it can be easily neglected by the consumer.
Companies can address these issues via a holistic, educational approach, which includes, but is not limited to, the following steps:
- Educating the consumer via campaigns or online resources. Boxed Water has educational content on their website about the importance of sustainable packaging.
- Providing examples of how they are addressing a range of environmental concerns. Patagonia discusses their vast footprint and the changes they are making to reduce it.
- Improve sustainability labeling. Cocokind has added a sustainability panel to their packaging which includes lifecycle details of the product.
- Understand how end-users recycle and make it easier for them. Brita provides a free shipping label to send the company used filters which are then converted into 100% recycled items.
Full article: Packaging Strategies