‘Made from recycled material’, ‘Eco-friendly’, ‘Sustainable’. Packaging terms have never been so popular as a means of distuinguishing and developing brand image.
The past 24 months have seen a transformative mind-set from many leading global brands willing to change their process to ensure ‘performance with conscience’.
From retail giants ‘Gap Inc’ to FMCG brands like PepsiCo and Heinz, companies are committing to sustainable choices that work for the environment. But is a commitment to environmental stewardship a product of collective corporate conscience, or is there more to sustainable packaging choices than saving our planet?
While a move to more environmentally friendly packaging and processes can only be a good thing where the planet is concerned, for brands ‘going Green’ can offer considerable benefits.
Environmentally-Conscious and Customer-Friendly
A committment to environmental sustainability is now frequently cited by brands looking to offer increased value to their customers. Changes to packaging is, for many brands, the most efficient way to display the company’s environmentally conscious efforts to the public, and build a positive image that can be leveraged to strenghten brand value.
Greener packaging design fulfills the needs of a business trying to connect with its target consumers without sacrificing the environment. And big brands have taken note.
Pepsi developed the world’s first 100% plant-based PET bottle made from fully renewable sources. Coca-Cola, Ford, Heinz, Nike and P&G quickly followed suit in embracing PET technology.
Pepsi and Coke’s Green bottle brings to life the essence of ‘performance with purpose’. Customers are now offered added value to their purchase. In fact PepsiCo added brand value to all their products by committing in 2010 to protect the earth’s natural resources through innovation and more efficient use of land, energy, water and packaging.
Brands are Increasingly Understanding that Sustainability is Inevitably Linked to Increased Revenue.
While the ability to adapt all manufacturing practices to more sustainable processes may be restricting for small brands in the short term, embracing eco-friendly packaging could be a smart move both for costs and customers alike in the long term.
The move by big brands to change their packaging to lighter recyclable material certainly helps these brands embrace a committment to the environment, but it also greatly reduces their packaging weight and avoids huge landfill costs.
Consumer and political pressure is mounting for companies to refine their packaging along sustainable lines. It is increasinly likely that most packaing will be required to be made from sustainable materials in the not too distant future. Early movers in the area are likely to benefit from improved brand image and offer consumer’s additional value compared to market competitors.
A New Tactic for the War in Shelf-Space
Over the past few decades brands have attempted to boost their presence by introducing more sizeable, eye-catching packaging. However, modern day consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally aware and market savy. Customers are now more sceptical of excess packaging. They think if something is over-packaged then they reason that they will have to pay more for it.
*Recent studies found the 2/5 consumers said they were more likely to buy a product if it had less packaging than a rival. 56% of respondents said they opt not to buy products that have too much wrapping or wasteful packaging!
Attract the Right Attention
Package design is challenging enough with the everyday evolution of products but now there is the added complication of trying to successfully integrate sustainability into branding.
Brands need to use insights and innovation to develop packaging that cuts out waste and keeps customers coming back for more.
Eco-friendly packaging needs to be well designed, streamlined, bio degradable, and easily recycled or reused. When designed well eco-friendly packaging can be a selling point in itself.
For some brands it acts as a point of differention from market competitors. Puma’s redesigned Clever Little Bag is a great example.
You dont have to be a global brand to embrace green packaging, some of the best examples in innovation come from smaller brands too. The Irish O’Egg brand is a great example of sustainable packaging design.
In order to ensure best product quality the preferred packaging material for eggs is moulded pulp fibre rather then plastic or polystyrene. Moulded pulp material is made from recycled paper and is strong yet soft enough to protect the eggs against breakage during transport or storage. Its also breathable, the moulded pulp absorbs shock, prevents loss of moisture and keeps the eggs from picking up undesirable odours and flavours. It’s also very eco friendly, compared to polystyrene, not to mention functionally much better for maintaining egg quality.
Looking for increasingly efficient ways to package your product may seem like an unnecessary hassle but it could be worth it, on multiple levels, in the long run.
*36% of shoppers in the US in 2011 said they were likely to choose environmentally packaging. This is a 29% increase on 2010. Half of those surveyed said they were willing to pay for such packaging. One third said they bought more of a product if packaging was labeled “recyclable” or “made from recycled material”.
Going green is inevitable. Brands who embrace their environmental conscious now can offer consumers increased value and reduce their operational costs in the long run.
• Is your product packaging cost efficient?
• Is your packaging really meeting consumer needs?
• Could your brand packaging offer more perceived value and differentiate your brand more distinctly from your competitors?
Stats: *Toluna Market Research