Consumer packaged goods marketing has always interested me. So I was all ears when the DMI’s Brand Design Conference kicked off with a presentation from Scott Young, of Perception Research Services.
Young discussed packaging and the environment from the consumers’ perspective.
CPG brands have three (conflicting) challenges when it comes to packaging.
1) Doing “the right thing” environmentally. More accurately, defining what exactly the right thing is when it comes to packaging.
2) Educating the consumer on what makes packaging good or bad for the environment. Young’s research findings showed a surprising lack of awareness around environmental terms.
3) Creating packaging that addresses consumer preferences. Consumers know environmental issues are important. But they still want packages that look good, show off the product, protect the product and are easy to use. And if the package is environmentally-friendly? Consumer’s want them to cost the same (or less) than current packaging.
Confusing packages and a lack of awareness around terminology has created a clear need for better package messaging and an education campaign (e.g., terms like sustainable are industry terms, not words that consumers fully understand).
Product messages are getting confused with packaging messages. Is a product good for you and/or is its packaging good for the planet? Consider how products tell us they are everything from USDA approved, free trade, organic, environmentally friendly, recycled, locally owned, recycled and several shades of green. The end result is an overwhelmed consumer.
The Impossible Dream?!
Packaging that meets environmental and consumer needs reads like a tough order to fill. But packaging can look good, be easy to use and be environmentally friendly. Kraft’s new salad dressing bottles present a powerful example.
This award-winning package design uses 19 percent less plastic. This means a lighter package, saving more than 3 million pounds of plastic annually, and increased shipping efficiencies by 18 percent as the package is smaller.
Consistency is Key
Environmental messaging is valuable and vital, but they must extend beyond the products. From product to brand, it’s best to link to a larger environmental proposition.
Aveda for example has made the environment much more than a product differentiator. It’s part of everything they do from corporate social responsibility programs and the corporate mission statement to its stores, services and products on the shelves. And they need to go from being the stand out to being the standard.