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Marketing Matters: Packaging and the Brand Experience—New Frontiers
By: Liz Grubow
Posted: December 10, 2007, from the December 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.
As the increased demand for eco-friendly packaging changes the landscape for U.S. consumer goods in all categories, brands across beauty and personal care categories are, perhaps, more susceptible than those in other categories, due to a strong reliance on packaging aesthetics. There is strong and clear evidence of U.S. consumers’ predilection for one-use items and generally disposable products. However, U.S. consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious due to concerns over climate change, and are largely driving the change toward green packaging (though Europe and Japan have been leaders in this arena for decades). Consumer packaged goods companies and their suppliers are becoming more sophisticated, taking a holistic approach to delivering eco-friendly packaging that continues to offer a compelling and proprietary brand proposition.
U.S. consumers have increasingly identified the environment as a top concern, with as many as 70% saying they want to make greener choices in the marketplace, according to GreenBiz.com. While the key words are “want to,” there seems to be a narrowing gap between the larger group of socially aware consumers and those who are truly green consumers. A recent industry study identified that 17% of consumers are “green motivated” and making purchasing decisions based on eco-friendly ingredients, manufacturing procedures and packaging materials; this group will likely continue to grow and is the group LPK Beauty Group is watching closely.
In LPK’s case load, it has observed that this new heightened awareness and a green state of mind have put increased focus on the effects of the packaging industry, forcing brands to look more closely at their package development practices and how they’re presenting environmental attributes in the marketplace. Currently, consumer goods packaging in the U.S. could be seen in the context of conflicting ecological and social demands. From a pure “footprint” standpoint, there is a complete paradigm shift from the need to create a visually competitive at-shelf appearance that’s significant and impactful to making environmental impact the priority, ultimately embracing a “cradle-to-cradle” philosophy of no waste and a product that leaves a “zero footprint” on the environment.
Category by category, the competition to become the greenest brand in personal care has begun. And when it comes to packaging, the“environmental friendliness” of the late 1980s and early 1990s has morphed into “sustainability,” the new buzzword for responsible packaging. Sustainability by definition is the concept of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability maximizes the use of renewable and recyclable materials, encourages waste reduction and resource conservation, reduces dependence on nonrenewable resources and recovers materials biologically.
The recently released “Design Guidelines for Sustainable Packaging,” from the Flexible Packaging Association, introduces four new quality criteria for package design to aid designers in creating packages that address sustainable objectives in every stage of the supply chain. Advocating for the need to “rethink the way we design at every scale,” the guidelines suggest adding four new quality considerations—optimizing resources, responsible sourcing, material health and resource recovery—to previous conventional design criteria.