Purchasing decisions increasingly based on environmental factors

Less packaging is not just the preference of young consumers.

It’s no secret that there is a surging consumer interest in more local and natural products, which stems not only from health concerns, but also from concern about the environment. In addition to a desire to see fewer goods being transported from long distances, there is a growing desire for more easily recycled packages or better yet, less packaging. 

Mintel, an international market research company, published a Household Care Packaging Trends report in January 2016. It stated, “Packaging is as important as the product itself as a means of delivering value to consumers….Innovative packaging features can be a way for brands to set themselves apart.” They went on to say that purchasers aged 18-34 are more likely than their older counterparts to look for environmental claims, packaging recyclability, and ethical claims, which is consistent with their belief that brands should make their packaging more environmentally responsible. 

According to Environmental Leader, quoting the 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker, a record-high 71 percent of Americans consider the environment when they shop, up from 66 percent in 2008. Additionally, nearly half (45 percent) of consumers actively seek out environmental information about the products they buy.

In fact, a 2009 study by the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association states, “Green shoppers are a great customer target, representing a high value segment and demonstrate more brand and retailer loyalty in their purchasing behavior. They are active consumers who buy more and shop more often as opposed to the image of an austere minimalist. They are less price sensitive than the average shopper and they are generally not bargain hunters.”

Packaging is usually designed to protect the product, however it will be worth the effort to find new materials and methods to balance quality at the point of purchase with this growing demand for “less is more”. As the public becomes more aware of the environmental consequences of their purchases, a company that can communicate its own commitment to conserving resources will surely resonate well with green shoppers. 

The MSU Product Center, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, provides business counseling for product development, packaging and marketing strategies that will help Michigan entrepreneurs commercialize high-value, consumer–responsive food, value-added agriculture, and natural resource products. For more information, visit the MSU Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.

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