As with all visible elements of a brand, the packaging you choose reflects the business you want to be in the eyes of the end consumer. For many, that means sustainable packaging is a consideration that cannot be ignored.
A 2014 study by Forum for the Future showed that consumers care about the environmental implications of the brands they choose, to the extent that 70% of respondents would consider switching to a new product if it was the greener option. However, the repercussions don’t end there.
More than half of those surveyed also said that they would feel negatively towards a company that failed to use the most environmentally-friendly packaging option available to them. More than one-quarter of respondents strongly agreed with this sentiment.
Clearly, sustainable packaging is not a trend that any brand wanting to keep its customers can ignore!
Packaging for the Future
The results of the survey should not come as a surprise to brand managers who monitor supply chain trends. Recycling and reducing our carbon print have been important considerations for several years now.
What should prompt action is the degree to which consumers are willing to react when a brand fails to live up to their environmental expectations.
Nonetheless, enhancing a company’s environmental credentials can seem like a major commitment. Altering business practices or developing packaging improvements might feel like an additional cost with no tangible return.
That being said, there are initiatives that can be taken at every level to minimize a brand’s environmental impact and promote sustainability as a core business value:
- Minimize internal waste around the office and warehouse. Move to electronic documents where possible, use remanufactured ink for printing, and make sure that recycling is emphasized in lunch areas and communal spaces.
- Make small steps towards sustainable packaging of your products, such as recycled paper as packing material or minimizing the amount of material required to keep shipments safe and secure.
- Identify opportunities to ship more items together. One less package shipped today could mean thousands less as the months roll by and your processes are enhanced.
- Rethink any additional items you send to customers as little extras in their package. Can you include something more environmentally friendly that will also serve to show off your green credentials, such as sustainably sourced product samples?
There are countless ways to reduce waste that cost little but which can add up to a lot. Work with suppliers and colleagues to understand where waste occurs in your operation and how you can make adjustments that align with sustainability. There’s a good chance your business will also save some money in the process!
All Brands Benefit from Sustainable Packaging
If it seems as though the value of eco-friendly packaging is overstated, look no further than the world’s fourth biggest brand for proof to the contrary.
Coca Cola’s new strategy for sustainable packaging is so complex that they needed the expertise of outside agents to deliver it. The company coordinated its new PlantBottle – a container made from 100% plant-based materials – with several packaging technology partners, as part of the brand’s wider drive to increase the overall recycling rate of plastic packaging.
As a product that consumers purchase repeatedly, Coke is an obvious choice for a commitment to sustainable packaging. However, that doesn’t mean that only an international brand can benefit from a commitment to sustainability.
The reality is that any company with green programs – local business or global brand – can leverage these initiatives as a competitive advantage.
The value of eco-friendly branding is only going to increase. Millennials are rapidly becoming the dominant consumer demographic. They typically develop a stronger connection with brands that promote corporate responsibility and demonstrate green business practices.
Sustainable packaging provides a highly visible way to show customers both of these qualities with minimal marketing. As Earth Day approaches, start engaging fulfillment partners and primary suppliers to explore this opportunity to enhance your brand.