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Eco-friendly Packaging: From Consumer Incentive to Consumer Expectation

by Greiner Packaging

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© Greiner Packaging

Understanding the wants and needs of consumers is crucial to win their trust and loyalty, and can be extremely important to the success of your food or dairy item.

This has never been more true for the package that surrounds, protects, and markets your product. Not only is it the gateway to attracting their attention, but it needs to take into account the expectations that consumers have when they buy into your branded item. And now, more than ever, consumers are putting a higher priority on buying brands that are housed in sustainable packaging — and they are increasingly willing to spend more for these eco-friendly options.

According to Asia Pulp & Paper’s “2017 Paper & Packaging Consumer Trends Report,” nearly one in three consumers are more likely to shop for brands that offer eco-friendly packaging than those that do not.

From that same survey, one in four agreed that they’d actually be willing to spend more for a product packaged in sustainable materials. In fact, of those consumers, 52% said they’d be willing to pay more than 10 percent more for such products, and 28% said they’d be willing to pay an impressive 21-30 percent more.

As consumers’ sustainability concerns continue to evolve, it’s no surprise that waste is an issue that weighs heavily on their minds. The survey also indicated that 51% of consumers believe packaging waste is an important environmental issue and consider this issue more important to them than it was five years ago.

What will prove to be a very important part of this discussion will be the ease in which packaging can be recycled. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 58% of Americans report they are confident in their ability to decipher what can and can’t be recycled. This then becomes an enormous opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves by more proactively communicating how their package can be recycled.

According to an article entitled Winning Customer Loyalty Through Sustainable Packaging in the December 17th issue of BrandPackaging: “Packaging materials that are easily recyclable or otherwise sustainable keep consumer expectations aligned with brand values.”

It’s common for food and dairy brands to use packaging which is a combination of paperboard and plastic, with the paperboard providing the means in which to communicate the benefits of the contents, and the plastic providing the protective barrier. However, for those consumers that live in communities with multi-stream recycling systems, it must be clear exactly how these two materials can be separated for ease of recycling. The K3® package, for instance, which is used to package many major yogurt brands, has a patented tear-open system clearly delineated on the package itself so there is no doubt how to separate the paperboard and plastic so that each can easily be recycled.

It’s no longer enough for your eco-friendly packaging to be an incentive to your target consumer — it has now become a downright expectation. Your strategy must include packaging that is sustainable and also sustainably sourced, while clearly communicating the ease in which it can be recycled. This will not only fulfil the evolving expectations of your target consumers, it will build brand loyalty and increase the likelihood that they will be willing to pay more, which has the added benefit of positively impacting your overall bottom line.

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