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Packaging for the Sustainably Minded Consumer


Of the various packaging predictions and trends identified for 2019, sustainable packaging is a major topic of conversation. More than ever, shoppers are seeking out brands that showcase recyclability, offer reusable packages, and provide product packaging that is both functional and sustainable. Consumers realize that where they choose to spend their money has an impact.

Mintel’s Global Food Science Analyst Emma Schofield adds, “Like nutrition, sustainability will become an expectation for companies to offer to consumers.” To ensure packaging and products are living up to consumers expectations, it’s more important than ever to understand their mindset, what’s important to them, and how they are defining the broad term, “sustainability.”

At last year’s PACK EXPO, Fresh-Lock introduced attendees to five consumer personas and demonstrated how packaging plays a role in their purchase decisions. One of those was Sustainable Stacy. Let’s dig into the Sustainable Stacy persona and get a glimpse of her motivations and pain points when it comes to product packaging.


Meet Sustainable Stacy

customer who cares about sustainability in packagingAs a well-educated, concerned global citizen, Stacy wants to do her part to make the world a better and cleaner place. Over-consumption and excessive waste in the “throw-away culture” frustrate her. Stacy believes she can make her voice heard through the way she spends money.

Buying greener products also makes her feel better about herself. Stacy is smart enough to understand the impact manufacturing and the entire supply chain have on the environment.

Like 52 percent of consumers surveyed in GlobalWebIndex’s 2018 Sustainability survey, Stacy believes sustainable responsibilities lie with manufacturers and production bodies. This means Stacy and many other consumers are researching brands and looking for communication regarding sustainability to be readily available before making purchasing decisions.

Of the product categories that Stacy and other consumers are researching for environmentally friendly products, CPG brands that are packaging household cleaning products, personal care products, and food are searched for the most often. This indicates that while CPG brands have the biggest challenge, brands that make strides towards sustainability will have the greatest opportunity.

eco-conscious consumers graphic

Sustainability: Then and Now

While it’s not the case today, brands can remember a time when consumers were not as interested in paying more for a package with sustainable features. Sean Riley of Food Engineering magazine shares that this was a result of the 2008 economic downturn. Price sensitivity across the board pressured manufacturers to cut costs.

The consumer demand for sustainable options is now an expectation for younger people like Sustainable Stacy. As Riley stated in Food Engineering, “… millennials will help to push this trend further for the foreseeable future as they purposefully seek out products with recyclable or renewable packaging.”

Mintel’s research indicates that 72 percent of today’s global consumers would pay more for packaging with sustainability benefits. Additionally, 29 percent of US adult Gen Z consumers, ages 18-22 and just entering the workforce, specifically shop for products that are environmentally friendly. We predict this number will only grow as their buying power increases.

pay more for sustainable packaging

gen z shops for sustainable packaging

Source: Mintel

Reaching Stacy with Flexible Reclosable Packaging

Consumers like Stacy have certain motivations when it comes to their beliefs and needs in packaging. Understanding and addressing these can help create a loyal brand advocate and a return shopper.

How many of the items below can your brand check off?

Stacy is loyal to brands with sustainability commitments.

  • Use your packaging to tell your brand’s story
  • Call out sustainability efforts
  • Be transparent – tell consumers where your products come from and if certain packaging attributes are selected to promote sustainability

Stacy is likely to purchase products that extend shelf life, minimize environmental impact, support a regenerative circular economy, and promote reusability or recyclability.

  • If your package utilizes a closure, share how reclosable packaging reduces repackaging, and keeps products fresher, longer
  • Educate consumers on how to recycle with How2Recycle graphics that clearly share how to properly dispose of packaging materials
  • Provide ideas on how consumers can reuse your package
  • Tell consumers when you use recyclable films and closures that properly seal to the film

Sustainable and Functional Packaging Can Coexist

If one of your brand’s goals is to develop a more sustainable package this year, think about consumers like Sustainable Stacy along each step of the way. Today’s consumers care about the environment and realize that their decisions contribute to the future of our planet. Advances in packaging materials and processes are providing more options for brands every day and allow consumer packaging to not only be sustainable, but functional, too. Fresh-Lock’s recyclable closures and circular manufacturing programs create more opportunities for brands to stand out and differentiate.

Our on-demand webinar, Growth in Green: Opportunities in Sustainable Flexible Packaging, helps brands uncover what’s next for their sustainable flexible packaging.

sustainable packaging webinar information

Join Fresh-Lock in our journey to help educate others on ways reclosable flexible packaging can be a win-win for consumers and the environment. Contact us today if you want to learn more about our customizable zippers and sliders for flexible packaging.

fresh-lock ebook about packaging trends

Applications: Sustainable Closures

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