Manufacturing News

Sustainable packaging identified as a brand loyalty issue

A new report from independent market analyst Datamonitor identifies that sustainable packaging is a growing consumer issue that has the potential to benefit numerous stakeholders.

“Sustainable packaging has the potential to become the new breakthrough consumer issue of its time, in the same way as organic food or fair-trade products a decade or so previously,” said Matthew Adams, Consumer Analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report.

The results of the survey, held in the second half of 2008, showed that in Australia 43% of consumers felt that packaging design has a medium or high level of influence over their choice of food and drink products.

However, of this proportion, only 13% felt it exerted a very high level of influence on purchase.

“Consumers’ relationship with packaging in many ways is complex because few will admit to its importance because it is often taken for granted, but increasing consumer concern about ecological matters means packaging is an issue that is rising to prominence,” said Adams.

The survey also found that a high proportion of consumers in Australia feel that living an ethical or sustainable lifestyle is either important or very important to their wellbeing.

This was true for 86% of women respondents, with 77% of men feeling the same.

Almost identical figures are attributed to the importance of protecting the environment for both men and women.

High awareness of the social desirability to act in an ethical manner is a key reason for this high response option but sustainability is also a growing consumer concern.

“The higher importance of sustainability for women is in line with the general gender differences in the importance attached to many of the more intangible, ‘softer’ issues in life and consumerism”, said Adams, who is based in London.

Sustainable packaging, as one of a number of important ethical and ecological consumer issues is one with scope for increased importance in future in much the same way that organic and fairtrade products were issues gaining significant momentum a decade ago.

“Despite the gender divide in importance attributed to ethical issues, one area where there is greater uniformity among men and women in relation to sustainable packaging is their reaction to products deemed to be packaged excessively. “

According to the survey, almost half of Australian consumers (49% of women and 46% of men) will consider swapping brands if they deem one product to be excessively packaged compared to the alternatives.

“This makes for startling reading for consumer brands if half of their customers could be lost due to sustainable packaging concerns”.

“With this in mind, all consumer packaged goods companies must continue to evaluate their packaging in order to align themselves with an emerging consumer trend.

“Sustainable packaging need not only be seen as a worthy environmental issue but more so as a ‘win-win situation’ where consumers, producers and the environment all reap the benefits”, said Adams.

Updating packaging can also be a more credible way to make cost savings without having to indulge in such methods as ‘package shrink’ or more accurately ‘portion shrink’ where a smaller amount of the product is sold at the same price.

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