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Pack It In—A New Look at Packaging

By: Elizabeth Boch
Posted: November 5, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

A couple intriguing trends are unfolding: not only are consumers returning to brand loyalty, but they are continuing to and, in many cases, increasing their demand for sustainable products. A recently released 2009 study by Retailing Today magazine found that 80% of consumers have a brand preference when choosing their beauty products and an even larger 89% prefer a certain brand when selecting health and beauty aids.

In addition, consumers awareness and predilection for the green trend is only increasing. According to the 2010 ImagePower Green Brands Survey by communications firm WPP, 30% of consumers plan to spend more money on green products in 2011, and an astonishing 75% say it is important to them that the brands they buy are manufactured by green companies.

While these two developments at first glance seem unrelated, this represents a tremendous opportunity for brand owners. For those whose role it is to support sales and point their company and brand in a growth direction, what better way to do so than by capitalizing on what consumers already want: green products from good corporate citizens. The best vehicle to deliver that message? Review packaging. But remember to consider both appearance and function. After all, change costs money, and if you can reduce overall costs, it’s more likely your initiative will get the go ahead.

Appearance: Sometimes it’s About What’s on the Surface

Increasingly, design and package copy is dictated by both brand owners and retailers looking to increase store sales. In June 2010, Whole Foods Market announced that all personal care products and cosmetics claiming to be organic must have a third-party certification attesting to the legitimacy of the claim. And Walmart has continued to strengthen its Sustainable Packaging Scorecard initiative, most recently spreading it internationally to Canada and several other countries.

So first things first: If making an “all natural” claim, be able to back the claim. It seems obvious, but there are plenty of brands out there that could not if required to do so. Brand owners that can back the claim build credibility with retailers—who, in turn, ensure prominent product placement.