Sustainable packaging:
what are consumers asking for?

“Mapping the Journey to Sustainable Packaging” is the report in which Ipsos, a well-known market research institute, answers one of the key questions in the packaging field: what are consumers asking for? 

According to most companies in the CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) sector, packaging is essential in the holistic strategy of sustainability: the transition to a more sustainable packaging helps the health of the planet and a commercial opportunity with consumers who are looking for more environmentally friendly solutions.  

First of all, how much is the concept of sustainable packaging actually a subject felt by the consumer, who in this time of crisis is getting the pressure on himself in many ways? 

Packaging ranks third for 41% of the world’s population among concerns related to the environment, after the threat posed by climate change (46%) and extreme weather events (43%). The fear of the accumulation of plastic packaging even ranks first for 10% of the population: 

However, the perception of what is sustainable does not always match the actual impact of CO2 emissions from packaging. To understand the effect of the different materials and designs of the packaging as a factor of choice, Ipsos carried out a research on five of the main markets in the world (USA, China, Brazil, UK and Germany). 

What comes into play in this match is not only the actual material used for the packaging, but also a series of psychological issues and marketing levers implemented by brands, such as advertising claims of sustainability and price 

The results that emerge from the research are mainly 5, and we list them here for the sake of clarity.

1- People do not believe in universal sustainable material

From one market to another – and even between categories of the same market – what consumers perceive as the most sustainable packaging material varies between cartonboard, plastic, glass and metal. 

2- Scenario, usage and claims matter

Even when consumers have a clear opinion on whether one material is more sustainable than another, they are mobile and therefore can still choose a product packaged in a different material. 

3- There is no universally appealing packaging-claim combination 

From one market to another- and even between categories of the same market- consumers may not intuitively associate a sustainability advertising claim with the same material. 

4- Most are unwilling to pay for the sole benefit of sustainability,

but it can enhance the premium perception of the product. 

5- There is no average consumer  

Depending on the level of concern and commitment to the environment, the attitude of consumers towards materials and their willingness to pay may be significantly different. 


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