Sustainability of packaging increasingly impacting purchasing decisions amid growing social media scrutiny of brands, survey suggests
Who is willing to pick up the bill for a shift towards more sustainable packaging? The answer, for luxury brands at least, may turn out to be the consumer.
Almost 80 per cent of consumers across the UK, France and Italy would be willing to pay a premium for luxury product packaging produced in a sustainable way, according to new research today which suggests high value brands that fail to provide a visible commitment to sustainability risk losing out on potential revenue.
A survey of over 730 consumers across the three European nations highlights the growing interest and awareness of the environmental sustainability of the products they purchase, as well as the increasing scrutiny luxury brands face on these issues from their customers on social media.
The research, commissioned by Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), found 78 per cent of respondents said they would be willing to pay a premium for luxury packaging produced in a sustainable way, while 71 per cent now expect luxury brands to use sustainable packaging.
The research focused primarily on luxury food, alcoholic drinks, fashion items, cosmetics and electronics, including products such as premium chocolates, champagne, skincare, iPhones, and jewellery, bags and shoes.
However, brands which fail to sufficiently implement or promote their sustainability credentials could be at risk of losing out on potential revenue, the survey suggests.
Just under a quarter of consumers said they had decided not to purchase a product because a brand did not have sufficient environmental credentials.
Moreover, 26 per cent admitted they do not check whether a product or brand is sustainable as they do not know how to find out, suggesting that while some companies may have responsible sourcing in place across their supply chain, they may not be communicating these credentials strongly enough to their customers.
Brands' sustainability credentials are also increasingly under the spotlight on social media, with 14 per cent of respondents saying they had posted something negative about a brand on social media because they weren't happy with its packaging, the survey found.
In addition, 21 per cent said they had compared packaging between luxury products before making a purchasing decision and the same proportion said they had decided not to buy something because it had too much packaging.
Meanwhile, a further 13 per cent of respondents said they had purchased a luxury product because of an online review which mentioned the packaging, according to the survey, which was carried out by packaging market intelligence firm Smithers Pira.
Overall, sustainable packaging was ranked as the third most important factor influencing whether a consumer purchases a luxury product, behind quality and whether they feel the product reflects their personality.
Paper and cardboard were thought to be the most environmentally friendly packaging materials in the survey by 62 per cent and 63 per cent of respondents respectively, while plastic and metal were seen as the least sustainable materials.
Dr Liz Wilks, European director for sustainability and stakeholder outreach at Asia Pulp & Paper, said the survey results showed packaging and sustainability were becoming increasingly important factors for consumers before purchasing a luxury product.
"Sustainability of the core product is key, but also the landscape it is sourced from," she said. "Both the core product and packaging are becoming intrinsically linked in the mind of consumers, who are now also conscious of brand commitments to sustainable livelihoods and habitat conservation as well as responsible sourcing. As such, both the luxury brands and the packaging industry need to include these elements in their external communications."
Sustainability credentials should never be skin deep, but equally the failure to wrap a product in visibly green packaging can have commercial consequences with increasingly environmentally conscious consumers.
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