Shoppers Say: “Please Help Me!”
Shoppers Try To Be Environmentally Conscious But They Struggle With Confusing Messaging
At Perception Research Services we recently fielded a study to uncover shopper’s perspectives of packaging as it relates to the environment. We were surprised by the findings. Shoppers demonstrated that they are interested in choosing environmentally-friendly packaging. Significantly more shoppers state they would like to choose environmentally friendly packaging compared to 2010 (36% vs 28%), with fully half still willing to pay more (despite the economy). This is especially true of younger (under 40) shoppers. Over half (59%) of our sample state that seeing environmental claims on packaging positively impacts their behavior (to either buy more of the brands they usually do, or switch to others).
Ironically, while shoppers continue to notice environmental claims at a high level (roughly half state seeing more of them in the past 6 months, just as in 2010), they are increasingly frustrated by the information provided. Significantly more report there isn’t enough environmental information (26% vs 20%), that they are confused by all the different environmental claims (20% vs 12%), and that they don’t know which packages are best for the environment (22% vs 17%).
Importantly, fewer shoppers feel that manufacturers’ motives are primarily honorable (57% vs 61%). Shoppers are becoming more skeptical of manufacturers behaviors and motives in this area, as more state that companies are increasingly self-serving (enhance reputation; realize profit gains) and show less concern for the environment.
Of the various claims seen, those having to do with recycling (recyclable, made from recycled material) are both noticed most and have the most impact on buying behavior. Conversely, made with less material is less influential.
In 2011, we noticed a significant increase in shoppers checking to see if a package can be recycled prior to buying it. Since seeing environmental claims positively impacts purchase behavior, it is incumbent upon manufactures to clearly convey this feature.
Fully two-thirds of shoppers indicate that they recycle on a regular basis. Those who do not recycle claim that the single biggest reason they don’t is that they forget to do so (44%) – suggesting that messaging could serve as a useful reminder. This could also help bridge the gap between shoppers’ stated concern for the environment (66% very/somewhat concerned) and their level of activity regarding the environment (46% very/somewhat active).
This is a great opportunity for manufacturers to provide truly value-added packaging to their target shoppers by making it more environmentally friendly – primarily in the form of recyclability and recycled content – and clearly communicating these aspects. We have seen that it is vital to get both the message right (what is said) as well as the delivery (how it is executed on pack) – because one without the other will create a missed opportunity.”
In addition, it is becoming apparent that the days of disguising cost reductions (e.g., smaller, thinner packages) as being driven by environmental concerns may be coming to an end, and continuing to do so may test shoppers’ good will.
By creating eco-friendly packaging that delivers benefits that shoppers care about, understand, and will make use of, will ultimately reduce waste and lessen their carbon footprint.
And that’s something shoppers and manufacturers could be proud of!
About the author
Jonathan Asher, EVP at Perception Research Services
As Executive Vice President, Director of Account Management, Jonathan oversees the company’s client services function including account management and marketing communications, and also manages client relationships for qualitative and quantitative studies. He is highly sensitive to the information needs of designers while also having a researcher’s ability to ask questions in an effective and appropriate manner. He is particularly adept at illuminating the risk of making wrong decisions as well as the opportunity cost of missing out on the right ones.
Jonathan has over 30 years of experience in consumer goods marketing beginning as a project director for Newman Stein, Inc. He also held research positions with Thomas J. Lipton (now Unilever) and the Lorillard division of Loews Corporation. Jonathan entered the design field by joining Gerstman+Meyers (now Interbrand) where he was vice president, director of marketing services. He went on to lead The Coleman Group where he developed the company’s proprietary strategic services. From there, he established the New York office of Dragon Rouge, a leading, privately held European design agency.
A frequent speaker and lecturer on topics pertaining to marketing and design, Jonathan, has been quoted in major publications including Fortune, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Brandweek, and Advertising Age.
Jonathan is also a Distinguished Faculty Member at the Path to Purchase Institute (formerly The In-Store Marketing Institute). He can be reached at email@example.com.