Getting Brands and Consumers Together On Sustainable Packaging

Are you and your consumers speaking the same language about sustainability? Research indicates that how brands and consumers each define, categorize, and value sustainability can be very different. It can be challenging to communicate to your audience not only what you mean by “sustainable,” but how it can benefit them—across the entire supply chain (especially packaging) and life of the product. But that opportunity is where a savvy brand can gain an edge in the marketplace.

As demand grows for sustainability across numerous industries, data about corporate responsibility and sustainable production also grows. For brands, it’s helpful to understand:

  • How they are striving toward sustainability.
  • How much they value sustainability as a business goal.
  • How they think their customers feel about (and understand) sustainability.
  • What they see as opportunities and challenges in sustainable flexible packaging for their product(s).

While brand owners—particularly those that have adopted sustainable practices and flexible packaging—recognize that sustainability includes not only materials but also a host of other steps along the supply and use chain, they imagine that consumers are only most aware of the materials. And they’re generally correct. Consumers overall are not fully aware of all the factors that make packaging sustainable—or not. Recyclability has been at the forefront of the discussion, but lightweight, reduced volume packaging materials (that cost much less to transport and take up much less space in landfills if they are discarded) are not on everyone’s radar.

The lack of knowledge isn’t a “throw your hands up in despair” moment, rather it is a great opportunity. When brands educate consumers on the sustainable benefits of flexible packaging across the supply chain, they get it. It’s easy to understand the bigger picture—but the picture has to be developed first. This is especially important when sustainable packaging adds to the retail price. As much as consumers demand responsible and sustainable practices from companies, they are still inconsistent about shelling out more money when they find a viable, cheaper alternative. Brands have to balance education with economy:

  • Help consumers understand the overall value of your product, packaging, and practices without getting “preachy” about sustainability (and why they should support it).
  • Aim to price competitively even with sustainable packaging so that consumers will consider your product at a modest upcharge, rather than disregard it immediately for the cheap competition.

Today’s young adults in their 20s and 30s (Millennials) have tremendous buying power, especially as the largest living generation. They also are the most likely to not only purchase sustainable products but to actively seek them out, pay more, and understand the overall lifecycle that goes beyond just the materials used in packaging. They are ideal brand advocates to bridge the divide between brands and less-informed or motivated consumers and can help get the word out on sustainability, flexible packaging, and a better way forward.

To explore your sustainable packaging options for your product(s), give us a call or contact us!

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