Consumers’ demand for environmental responsibility among corporations pushed the industry to explore more technologies that can produce eco-friendly products and packaging materials. The packaging industry is redefining the materials it uses, how these materials are harvested, how recyclable are they, and how much energy the production process saves.
Corporations are displaying eco-friendly labels and designs on packages, ranging from recyclability claims to all-natural ones. And these efforts are paying off. A recent global study by Nielsen conducted among 30,000 consumers across 60 countries revealed that 55 percent of the respondents are willing to pay more for products and services of companies committed to positive social responsibility. To add on top of that, The Future of Sustainable Packaging to 2018, a study conducted by Smithers Pira, predict that the sustainable packaging market will reach $244 billion by 2018.
Millennials Lead the “Sustainability Mainstream”
Fifty-two percent of the respondents in Nielsen’s survey say their decision to buy a product partly depends on the product’s packaging – they prefer those with claims of positive environmental impact. Those who are most affected by this factor are in Asia-Pacific (63%), Latin America (62%) and Middle East/Africa (62%).
Among the age groups in the study, the Millennials, or those aged from 21 to 34, are the ones who are most responsive to sustainable efforts. They comprise 51 percent of those who are willing to pay more for sustainable products and also 51 percent of those who check the labels first for eco-friendliness claims.
Marketing efforts should therefore focus on the Millennials in the years to come. They make up about a third of the global population and spend about $600 billion annually. This is projected to skyrocket to $1.4 trillion in the coming 6 years.
Eco-friendly Claims Are Not Enough
In the recent years much confusion has arisen with regards to the eco-friendly claims attached on packaging materials. Consumers protest the indiscriminate use of “organic”, “natural”, “recyclable”, and other such labels. They claim that these products mislead the public into thinking that they are, for example, 100% organic, when this is not the case.
In a survey among 60,000 respondents in 10 countries conducted by Eurominotor for Tetra Pak, almost half of the participants say they prefer packaging that has third-party certifications of environmental friendliness. For example, FSC labeling is seen as a trustworthy authority in certifying materials that are harvested from responsibly grown forests and other sources. Getting certified by FSC and putting the certification logo increases the credibility of eco-friendliness claims of products.
Demand for Sustainability is Not Going Anywhere
It’s been years after the controversy of climate change has exploded and we are yet to see a decline in public interest. In fact, with more of the consequences of climate change manifesting in recent times, the public is becoming more and more inclined to buy products that pose the least environmental damages. Millennials are not letting up in their demand for social responsibility, in fact this is projected to intensify; therefore corporations should gear their packaging production and marketing efforts towards this direction.