Consumers demand sustainable packaging

Consumers believe companies use too much packaging when delivering or selling products – with Amazon and eBay being named as some of the worst offenders.

A study of 2,000 adults across the UK by the Chartered Institute of Marketing revealed 88 per cent think their shopping comes with more wrapping than is required, with children’s toys, mobile phones and cosmetics most likely to come in over-elaborate packaging.

But it’s not just e-commerce shops which over-do it, as a sixth of consumers believe in-store food shopping uses up more plastic than is required.

And eight in 10 consumers would like to see more done by large companies to promote sustainable packaging.

Chris Daly, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, which commissioned the research, said:

“Making greener purchasing decisions is a growing concern for consumers and increasingly a point of differentiation for brands.

“The study shows how consumers don’t want or require the excess packaging which comes with products – both online and in store. With the conversation about sustainability evolving every day, marketers must recognise that packaging is an area that could make or break a consumer purchasing decision.

“The fact that some respondents have even decided to not purchase from certain brands due to over-elaborate packaging shows a real shift in consumer behaviour.”

The study highlights that brands, big and small, must be prepared to face judgement from their customers on packaging alone.

Retailers face reputational damage:

  • Almost a third admitted they have been ‘put off’ ordering from the same company again due to the amount of paper or cardboard which came with it.
  • Similarly, 36 per cent judge a brand’s ethics on their packaging and a sixth have complained to a company because of this.  A further four in 10 said the amount of excess packaging used often puts them off shopping online.

On the flip side, more than a quarter of respondents would be willing to spend more on a product if they knew the boxes, paper and envelopes used were sustainable.

Consumer habits are changing:

  • Those who make the conscious decision to be green are prepared to spend on average 20 per cent more.
  • Worryingly an eighth admitted to throwing away the excess wrapping which gets sent to them while 70 per cent recycle it and a tenth even reuse it to protect personal deliveries.
  • Over Christmas, while 87 per cent try and recycle what packaging they can, three in five do throw away unwanted packaging. It also emerged half the nation believe sustainable materials are used more now compared to 10 years ago and almost three in five said brands are using more ethical alternatives.

A hopeful seven in 10 of those polled via OnePoll think there will be a time when companies no longer use additional wrapping for products.

While four in five individuals take their own bags shopping to do their bit, 83 per cent would like to see more plastic free and zero waste stores in their town.

Chris Daly added: “What we’re experiencing is a reputational tipping point for brands, where packaging and sustainability initiatives weigh heavy in the minds of the consumer. While it’s encouraging that the public broadly think brands are doing more now to tackle avoidable waste, the onus is on the marketing industry to take what consumers are telling us, and help organisations fully buy-in to sustainability led strategies.”

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