What is Packaging Sustainability?
One thing I have learned is that packaging sustainability is not simply about making the earth greener. No company looks at sustainability without internal motivations to strengthen their brand, increase their profits and improve their market position. Usually those motivations relate to savings or branding.
Let’s face it: packaging is a necessary evil to deliver to the consumer the contents safely and attractively. Sometimes the packaging is also branding. Always it is protection and preservation.
Branding of Product Engages the Packaging
For some companies, packaging sustainability is about corporate and product branding. The packaging message has to be consistent with the brand image. The brand reputation is tied up with a sustainability message. Under these circumstances, the product is often one that is green, organic, all natural, against animal testing, etc. The packaging needs to be consistent with that image. A thermoformed clamshell is not simply hated by consumers for the difficulty of its opening, it is hated because the packaging is large relative to the product, hard to open, and hard to get rid of. It is consistent with an expensive and small technical product. It is inconsistent with a homey touch, a green or natural product or one that aims at serving the healthy lifestyle market segment.
For instance, Seventh Generation is using recycled cardboard with a plastic liner for its detergent because it is consistent with its consumers’ image of themselves and their experience in using the detergent.
Sometimes this is not enough to do something that reflects the product’s message. For instance if the consumer does not realize it, then the messaging is lost. Would you pay more for sustainable packaging if you do not understand how it is sustainable or how you could engage in making sure its sustainable mission is fulfilled? That is why recycling is so popular. Consumers can feel good about their engagement in recycling.
Does your branding convey the message about packaging sustainability? Is that important to your consumer?
But there are other ways packaging sustainability is showing up.
Packaging Reduction Pressure from Retailers
Never underestimate what WalMart, Target, Kroger, Staples and others are trying to do to keep their costs down. They are constantly pressuring consumer product companies to reduce their pricing or increase their value. One primary focus is on packaging that is never seen by the consumer. Mostly this is corrugate boxes used to transport the consumer products to the retailer. Consumers may never see it but there are tremendous potential savings through reduction in secondary packaging. The retailer wants to reduce its cost to dispose of packaging. The producer wants to reduce its cost to deliver.
Another feature the retailer is seeking is neat shelves. Labor to neaten shelves is unproductive but necessary. Anything a consumer product company can do to keep its product looking neat on the selves is important to the retailer and helps to sell the product. What can a consumer products company do to help its retailers?
Sometimes it is easy open bundles? Sometimes it is easy stack products.
Packaging Cost Reduction
Everyone wins if the retailer has to throw less packaging away: the brand owner is wasting less packaging to get it to the retailer. Costs are saved by both retailer and producer, energy in creating packaging, transporting packaging and disposing of packaging is saved. This makes a big win in corporate sustainability reporting. Bot retailer and producer can claim it.
For years, our vision at Package has been to minimize wrapping material usage in creating an attractive, protected consumer product, Now we add to that, minimizing the secondary packaging to get the product to the retailer by using bundling to replace corrugate boxes.
Talk to us about how we can help you with your product enhancement and packaging reduction plans.