Beverage shoppers’ perceptions of packaging are changing, and sustainability has become a key factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions. According to a new study from EcoFocus Worldwide, a research firm specializing in consumer perspectives on green and sustainable goods and services, 84% of U.S. beverage shoppers at least sometimes consider the environment in their purchasing decisions.
As founder and CEO of EcoFocus Worldwide, Linda Gilbert has studied consumer trends for numerous multinational companies, including PepsiCo, Coca Cola, Danone, and Nestle. Ms. Gilbert will share her insights in an exclusive i2live webinar, “Enhancing the Beverage Shopper’s Experience with Sustainable Packaging” on Thursday, March 8, 2012, at 2 p.m. EST. The webinar is presented by Industry Intelligence and sponsored by Packaging Strategies. To register for this webcast (free), go to www.i2live.net
Packaging Strategies is also offering EcoFocus’s study, “Sustainable Packaging for Beverage Shoppers,” for sale. For details, go to www.packstrat.com where studies are listed on the right column, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
i2live recently sat down with Ms. Gilbert to discuss consumer trends toward sustainable beverage packaging and how beverage companies can use those insights to create products with maximum consumer appeal.
i2live: What can leaders in the sustainable packaging and beverage industries take away from EcoFocus Worldwide’s “Sustainable Packaging for Beverage Shoppers” study?
Linda Gilbert: Beverage packaging is an entry point to sustainable lifestyles for many mainstream consumers. According to the EcoFocus study, 59% of beverage shoppers say it is extremely or very important to choose beverages that are packaged responsibly, and 38% have already changed what they buy due to the type or amount of packaging. This creates significant opportunities to differentiate and add value to products and brands by enhancing the consumer’s beverage experience with eco-friendly packaging options.
Already, eco-friendly packaging is playing a larger role in brand perceptions and choices, especially when married with economic, convenience, health or other advantages. The study helps you understand the mindset of an evolving class of mainstream consumers who are becoming more focused on sustainability in their shopping behavior.
i2live: What are some of the key points you took away from this study?
LG: The study makes it clear that while most beverage shoppers do consider the environmental impact of the products they buy at least sometimes, the steps they are taking are small, incremental, and for the most part, they are not willing to make compromises for eco-friendly packaging. For these mainstream consumers, sustainability is often a tipping point only when other expectations are met. For example, sustainable beverage packaging needs to deliver same or better performance for these shoppers. If the eco-friendly cup doesn’t keep the coffee hot or the iced tea cold, it’s not a practical solution for most consumers.
Second, the study finds that that mainstream consumers have a personal approach to sustainability that focuses on wellness and quality of life. Their focus is on My World, My LifeTM first, and then the greater good. Sustainable packaging and beverage officials need to make sustainability benefits personal and speak to higher order emotional rewards for beverage shoppers. This means shifting the conversation with consumers from talking about polar bears and melting ice caps to talking about less waste and improving personal health and well-being.
Third, the study shows that consumers want help and information from manufacturers, retailers, and brands to help them make their homes and lifestyles more eco-friendly. For mainstream consumers, what motivates shopping decisions is less about what your business is doing to reduce its corporate footprint and more about what your business is doing to help your consumer have a more eco-friendly home and lifestyle. The study shows that availability, affordability, quality, performance, convenience, and practicality are barriers that need to be recognized and overcome with solutions that fit existing or desired behaviors for consumers.
i2live: EcoFocus’ study indicates a large and/or growing awareness of environmental and sustainable factors in the purchase of beverages. What are some reasons for this?
LG: There are numerous forces driving this change. Two principal ones from the consumer side are interests in better health and reduced waste.
Sustainability is a new dimension of the ongoing wellness trend we’ve seen evolve over the last few decades. Initially, wellness was about reducing the risk of disease fueling the success of fortified and functional beverages. Then, wellness became about fitness and energy for consumers and we saw the explosion of sports beverages, green teas and other energy drinks. In more recent years, wellness has been about looking and feeling good, fueling interest in soymilk, probiotic drinks, and lower calorie, and higher antioxidant beverages, for example. Today, sustainability is the new dimension of wellness for consumers who increasingly associate “a healthier planet” with “a healthier me.”
At the same time, reducing waste is a high priority for consumers today. Beverage packaging can be a visible problem or a solution as consumers want to recycle more and trash less. According to the EcoFocus study, 67% of beverage shoppers say “providing ways to dispose of packaging” is an extremely or very positive influence on purchases; and 66% say “manufacturers need to do a better job of telling me how to recycle or dispose of their packaging.”
In recent years, single-serve plastic beverage bottles for waters, juices, and other beverages, once regaled for their convenience and sometimes healthfulness, have become poster children for packaging waste. Single-serve bottled water is a great case study for this evolution in consumer thinking. As one mom from Chicago told us: “I remember when it used to be healthy to have a bin full of bottled water at parties; now that’s considered wasteful.”
To read the rest of the interview, please visit: http://www.i2live.net/