Study: Green Packaging Wins Out for Most Shoppers

by | Mar 17, 2009

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prslogoBrand marketers are focusing more attention on environmentally friendly packaging, but environmental considerations for shoppers generally are secondary to overall package appearance and functional concerns, says Scott Young, president, Perception Research Services (PRS), in an article written for

Young says environmental claims about packaging are a tiebreaker for most shoppers when they decide which product to buy, and only influence consumer purchase decisions if quality appearance and functional needs are met.

On the other hand, if the packaging looks “cheap” or isn’t perceived to adequately protect the product it is a deal-breaker for shoppers, writes Young, and no other marketing claims matter, including those made about environmental packaging.

These are key findings from extensive research conducted over the past two years by PRS to gauge shoppers’ perceptions of environmentally friendly packaging. These studies also indicate shopper confusion regarding environmental claims about packaging, says Young. For example, the study reveals that only 11 percent of the shoppers interviewed, based on 500 in-person interviews, heard the term sustainable packaging and knew what it signified. However, nearly half of these shoppers thought it meant durable packaging.

Young says many of the most successful initiatives link sustainable packaging to a broader environmental brand position, such as Clorox’s GreenWorks brand. He says it is critical to make the environmental messaging clear, and claims linked to recycling typically resonate with shoppers, while references to “post-consumer materials” are the least compelling.

Companies across all industries, from computer makers to shoe retailers, are making major efforts towards sustainable packaging, not only to save the environment, but also to reduce costs. Computer maker Dell, for example, estimates a savings of more than $8 million and the elimination of approximately 20 million pounds of packaging material over the next four years.

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