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In today’s connected world, consumers are more informed than ever before. This means consumers can now walk into commerce transactions armed with research about any particular brand or product. It also means that consumers have a more in-depth understanding and exposure to the local and global impacts of socially irresponsible practices, whether it be water…
The USDA is proposing a new agency rule that will support sustainable packaging made of plant-based plastic, rubber and fiber. Under the new rule, a current program designed to promote ethanol and biodiesel fuels will be expanded to companies using plant-based materials in manufacturing products such as bottles and packaging. The new rule will add…
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In today’s connected world, consumers are more informed than ever before. This means consumers can now walk into commerce transactions armed with research about any particular brand or product. It also means that consumers have a more in-depth understanding and exposure to the local and global impacts of socially irresponsible practices, whether it be water shortages, food poverty and poor air quality. As a result, many consumers have adopted more sustainable behaviors, and expect the same from the brands they purchase.
Since consumers are doing their homework, more and more consumer packaged goods (CPG) and quick service restaurant leaders are committing to improving organizational practices that impact the natural environment.
Here are highlights from top brands pledging to more sustainable packaging strategies. We will continue to update this list as a resource for brands and consumers alike, enabling both to better understand large corporations’ strategies as they evolve.
McDonald’s brands With Sustainable Packaging McDonalds
100% of McDonald’s guest packaging will come from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025.
Recycle guest packaging in 100% of McDonald’s restaurants by 2025. Recycling infrastructure, regulations and consumer behaviors vary from city to city and country to country, but McDonald’s plan to be part of the solution and help influence powerful change.
What this means:
McDonald’s is acutely aware of the influence they have as one of the world’s largest restaurant companies. As a brand, the scope of the communities and cultures they touch is vast. Understanding the wide breadth of their consumer base, McDonald’s is dedicated to matching the recycling behaviors of the individual regions they serve.
Mondelēz International, Inc. brands With Sustainable Packaging Mondelez
Eliminate 65,000 metric tons of packaging
What this means:
By eliminating superfluous packaging materials, not only is Mondelēz clearly evaluating their how their manufacturing is impacting the natural environment, but it also shows a commitment to keeping their efforts consumer-facing. Less packaging material means less for the consumer to dispose of themselves.
Coca-Cola brands With Sustainable Packaging Coca Cola
Work with partners to recover and recycle bottles and cans equivalent to 75% of those that Coca-Cola introduces into developed markets.
What this means:
By introducing recovered and recycled products into the marketplace, Coca-Cola is reinforcing the recycling behaviors of their consumers. They are inherently motivating consumers to engage in the recycling process as they have made simply the act of buying the Coke products they are already purchasing a part of the process.
Pepsi brands With Sustainable Packaging Pepsi
Strive to design 100% of packaging that is recyclable, compostable or biodegradable, increase recycled materials in our plastic packaging, reduce packaging’s carbon impact and in partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation, work to increase recycling rates by 2025.
What this means:
There’s a lot to consider when designing a product package with recycling in mind. Converting to recyclable packaging is a noble endeavor, and an important one; however, if consumers aren’t recycling, then that recyclable packaging is still ending up in a landfill. PepsiCo is doubling down and not only analyzing its materials but committing to working to influence consumer perceptions of recycling to improve recycling rates.
Procter & Gamble brands With Sustainable Packaging Proctor and Gamble
Reducing packaging by 20% per consumer use
Doubling use of recycled resin in plastic packaging
Ensuring 90% of packaging is recyclable or there are programs in place to develop the ability to recycle it
What this means:
P&G is keenly aware of packaging’s key performance criteria: protecting its products. Putting innovative muscle behind packaging material reduction and moving from boxed products to bagged products in increase recyclability of plastic is how they are examining where they can make a positive impact internally. Externally, they are focusing on the role the consumer plays in the recycling process. By including messaging on packaging to educate consumers on recycling the package and investing an innovation project from New Plastics Economy Innovation which aids in the sorting of plastics at recycling facilities, P&G shows a commitment to improving the recycling process as a whole and making sustainable practices more adoptable by more consumers.
Nestlé brands With Sustainable Packaging Nestle
100% of packaging is recyclable or reusable by 2025
By 2020, reduce the amount of packaging we use by 140,000 tons by 2020
What this means:
Similarly, Nestlé commits to supporting the improvement of collection, sorting and recycling programs across the countries in which they operate, as well as educating consumers on proper recycling practices. The more product labeling and packaging conveys these messages the more it is likely to catalyze correct recycling behavior. This two tier-approach to their corporate sustainability pledge seeks to both continuously improve the environmental performance of their packaging while aiding in the development of recycling management to prevent even sustainably-sourced packaging from ending up as litter.
Unilever brands With Sustainable Packaging unilever
Ensure all plastic packaging is designed to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025
Halve the waste associated with the disposal of Unilever products by 2020
Reduce the weight of the packaging it uses this decade by one third by 2020
What this means:
Unilever specifically calls for a move away from the linear “take-make-consume-dispose” mindset and towards the circular economy approach, increasing efficiencies by reexamining the end of packaging’s lifecycle. Looking to play an active role in boosting recycling program performance, Unilever is taking a focused-approach through industry partnerships to stimulate recycling and recovery infrastructure by examining materials that are particularly complex to recycle.
Danone brands With Sustainable Packaging Danone
25% recycled polyethylene terephthalate in plastic water bottles by 2020
Eliminate the use of paper-based packaging derived from unsustainable sources such as deforested areas by 2020
What this means:
Danone is committed to minimizing the use of resources and to continuing to innovate their packaging to make 100% of it fully recyclable. By focusing on sustainable resources at the front end of the process, they are investing in the long-term success of their organization as they are increasing the supply of these commodities in the future.
General Mills brands With Sustainable Packaging General Mills
Sustainably source 100% of our fiber packaging by 2020
Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions occurring within their packaging supply chain, which represents 8% of total value chain emissions
What this means:
General Mills recognizes the wide scope of environmental impact of packaging, and therefore have identified a number of materiality issues that are relevant to the packaging value chain. By introducing sustainable practices in the early phases of packaging design can reduce packaging’s impact, General Mills decreases the amount of material used in packaging mock-ups while innovating and trystorming lower impact materials for packaging solutions. Like any of the other CPG companies listed here, General Mills is also committed to the consumer-side of sustainable food packaging practices that maintain food safety.
Diageo brands With Sustainable Packaging Diageo
Reduce total packaging weight by 15% by 2020
Increase recycled content to 45% by 2020
Make 100% of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2020
Sustainably source all our paper and board packaging to ensure zero net deforestation by 2020
What this means:
Diageo is looking to their suppliers, retail customers and consumers to all be a part of the sustainable packaging process. Diageo will work with packaging suppliers to understand the relevant sustainability characteristics of materials. They have initiated programming that encourages their retail customers to contribute to the collection stage of the recycling process. They are also relying on their consumers to recycle more, and recycle better, and so they are committed to improving recycling infrastructures in the communities they serve around the world. This requires transparency across the packaging value chain to communicate and overcome challenges towards these initiatives.
Sustainability strategies such as these are necessary to be competitive in today’s more environmentally conscious market. CPG companies and fast food brand leaders are lining up to outline their commitments to accelerate the progress towards the circular economy of packaging recycling. These pledges send a signal to other brands, suppliers, and vendors that there is a real demand for a more sustainable approach to packaging production that reduces environmental cost while continuing to protect and engage consumers.
The USDA is proposing a new agency rule that will support sustainable packaging made of plant-based plastic, rubber and fiber. Under the new rule, a current program designed to promote ethanol and biodiesel fuels will be expanded to companies using plant-based materials in manufacturing products such as bottles and packaging.
The new rule will add plant-based products manufacturers to a loan guarantee program that would allow companies building new plants to borrow money at lower interest rates. Thus far, the program has provided more than $844 million for 10 biofuel projects since 2008. According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, loans of up to $250 million will be offered to projects involving development of plant-based materials for manufacturing.
According to a USDA-commissioned report mandated in the 2014 farm bill, the plant-based materials industry created four million jobs and contributed $369 billion to the economy in 2013.
Examples of recently created plant-based goods include the Coca Cola Company’s sugarcane-based bottle and soybean oil-derived Ford Mustang seat cushions. According to Coca Cola, its PlantBottle packages have saved more than 30 million gallons of gas and eliminated 270,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent to the amount emitted from burning more than 630,000 barrels of oil.
That First Moment of Truth (FMOT) — or the first 3 to 7 seconds in which a potential customer encounters your product on a store shelf — is critical.
A product with great packaging can make the FMOT compelling — perhaps enough so to create a conversion.
While a lousy package will all but doom the FMOT, and your brand will not even make a lasting impact on the consumer — let alone lead to a conversion.
Taking this into consideration, you can easily make the argument that packaging IS your product.
The right packaging will not only catch the eye of consumers, but it will also differentiate your product from your competitors. A strong package will also act as a marketing tool, telling the consumer what your brand is all about.
Finally, good packaging creates brand recognition. If a consumer doesn’t purchase your product, but they can still recognize it from the opposite end of the store aisle, that’s a win in its own right.
To help illustrate the power of packaging, here are six companies that have nailed their package branding and designs.
KIND – Getting a Sneak Peek
When your product looks delicious, why hide it behind a wrapper? kind bars packaging
KIND is one of the top players in the snack bar market (according to the New York Times, they are the third-biggest snack bar maker worldwide, behind Nature Valley and Clif Bar).
One of the keys to their success has no doubt been their packaging.
Their wrapper can be split into two portions. First, there is the branded side that features its colorful but straightforward logo.
Then, there is the transparent part of the wrapper, which gives consumers a glimpse of the actual product (not an airbrushed, photoshopped image) before they even open the package.
In a crowded marketplace, KIND’s packaging has helped them stand out.
Chobani – Incorporating Functionality into the Design
Chobani has always been seen as an experimental yogurt brand. There recent rebranding proves this.
Another example of how Chobani has bettered its products and stood out from the competition is there Flip cups. The Flip packaging is a prime example of how to integrate some functionality to your packaging design.
The package allows for the user to easily pop the toppings onto the yogurt with ease, while still maintaining the shape of a standard yogurt cup.
It’s a nifty little idea — and innovation like this has made Chobani one of the top yogurt producers, as they recently passed Yoplait to become the leader in U.S. yogurt market share.
Oxford Pennant – Deliveries Have Never Been so Fun
Receiving a package in the mail is one of the top ways to stimulate dopamine release in the brain.
Okay, that’s not actually true, but still, when something you ordered finally arrives, it is definitely a great feeling.
Oxford Pennant — a designer and manufacturer of vintage wool and cotton pennants — capitalized on the love for delivery with their latest packaging design:
Yup, they had someone illustrate photos and videos of their customers with their pennants and featured them on their packaging. The packages also feature hand-written notes, which is a fantastic way to say thanks and to let your customers know you appreciate them.
Talk about using packaging to create a connection with your consumers!
Coca-Cola – Personalized Packaging
Oh, you thought we were going to get through this list without featuring Coca-Cola’s famous “Share a Coke” campaign? Think again!
The messaging behind this campaign was a good one: share a Coke with somebody easily translates to, “spend time with those you care about.”
It’s a safe, wholesome message that works well with such a familiar brand that is often associated with being young and nostalgia.
It was also brilliant to incorporate the messaging into their packaging, which was simply to place names on their bottles below the phrase “Share a Coke With…”
Not only did this packaging campaign help bring consumers to the soda aisle searching for their friend’s names or their own, but it also helped create a more personal relationship with their customers.
Since the original roll-out of this campaign, Coca-Cola has added new names and even song lyrics to their packaging.
Just how much does Coca-Cola care about their packaging? Well, they went as far as to collaborate with Pantone to create their own custom color, appropriately named “Coke Red”.
RxBar – Transparency is Key
Another health and wellness bar featured on this list, RxBar wasn’t always a big hit with their target market.
In fact, the company was desperate to increase sales and partnerships with retailers that they completely overhauled their brand in 2017 — including their packaging.
Their once noisy wrapper is now clean, sharp and to the point — listing the ingredients front and center.
The results: an increase in sales from $6 million in 2014 to $130 million in 2017.
According to this Inc. Magazine article, since the redesign, Rxbar has become the number three wellness bar at natural-food retailers.
When asked where the company was on that list before the rebrand, RxBar co-founder Peter Rahal says, “Bottom of the barrel — nowhere.”
The lesson here? If you claim you’re a healthy product, make sure your packaging clearly conveys that.
Also, sometimes less is more.
Carlsberg Breweries – The Importance of Sustainability
Carlsberg Breweries, located in Denmark, made news in 2018 for their six-pack packaging that didn’t use plastic wrapping, but instead glue to hold the cans together.
According to their website, their new packaging will “reduce the amount of plastic used in traditional multi-packs by up to 76%.”
The announcement of this new sustainable packaging was met with applause and Carlsberg has now proven themselves as one of the leading sustainable beer companies in the world (image courtesy of Carlsberg Brewing).
Dare to Be Different (And Creative) With Your Packaging
The common theme between all these brands is that they truly thought outside the box in terms of what is possible with packaging.
Brands that play it safe with their innovation — whether it be the product itself or the packaging — are doomed to be passed by their more ambitious and forward-thinking competitors.
So, next time you see sales stagnant, maybe it isn’t your product as much as it is your packaging.
But then again, there isn’t really a difference between the two.
With so many different types of wines distributed throughout the world, it’s difficult for brands to stand out from the rest. So many factors go into purchasing a bottle of wine: origin, type, taste, ingredients, but with today’s millennials, the main factor is the label. Studies show that labels make up 71% of young adults’ buying decision. The question is: how do these creative wine brands and label designs beat out the competition?
How Your Label Can Speak to Millennials
Quartz, who surveyed young adults on the types of wines they tend to buy, came to the conclusion that, “the top wine labels delivered on the characteristics wine drinkers say they like: eye-catching, unique, stylish, creative, clever, and colorful.” Taking the next step in your label design can help your wine brand and label design stand out to the next generation of buyers. Here are 10 brands that put unique creativity into their wine labels.
19 Crimes is a brand that creates an interactive experience with customers. Each wine features one British criminal sentenced to exile in Australia for committing one of 19 Crimes. If customers download the app, Living Wine Labels, they can interact with the story of the featured wine they purchased. 19 Crimes is one of the first brands of its kind, inciting curiosity in its customers to download the app and learn more about these true and interesting stories. On top of the interactive experience, this creative wine brand’s labels are unique and eye-catching. Potential buyers can definitely see that there is a story behind this wine.
Root 1: Wines
Root 1: Wines was built on a unique origin that helped shape the brand and label. Located in Chile, their grapes are grown both in central valleys and coastlines. “Crafted exclusively from grapes grown on original, ungrafted root systems and produced using sustainable methods, the intense fruit flavors and authentic varietal character of Root: 1 Wines are living proof that character comes from your roots.” The wine label is not only visually unique but also successfully portrays the brand’s message.
Small Talk Vineyards
Small Talk Vineyards based near Niagara Falls, puts a creative twist into each one of their wine labels. Small Talk themes their wines based on moments at a dinner party or a first date. People’s eyes are drawn to their labels because of the relatable phrases on each wine bottle that possibly bring back memories. These labels are meant to bring back memories or spark conversation, bringing that uncommon spark to their brand.
In a moment when there is so much noise vying for our attention at every moment, CPGs and their brands continue to look for ways to cut through the clutter, grab attention and appeal to consumers. It’s ironic that many successful examples of packaging resonating with consumers today are those that choose to turn down the noise in order to cut through it.
Minimalism in packaging has been growing steadily over the last 5 years, from designs that use far less wording, simple and reusable materials, fewer labels and colors, or simple design concepts, consumers have come to appreciate the focus on the products and ingredients in the package rather the clutter and diversion that comes with busy, over-designed packaging and labeling. Nowhere is this more evident than the RXBAR©.
There are four trends that I believe are shaping the move to minimalistic packaging designs; Consumer Sentiment of Millennials, Clean and Healthy Living Trends, Noisy Grocery Shelves and SKU Proliferation.
Many influencers in the industry have pointed to Millennials as the biggest reason for the increase in Minimalism in packaging. Millennials often choose brands that are eco-sensitive, plain-spoken, and focused on simple and natural ingredients. But a closer look at the history of packaging design shows us that the industry has been trending toward this movement for some time. There are three major factors that are driving minimalism in packaging – SKU proliferation, Clean & Healthy Living, and the need for companies to Break Through the Noise.
Clean & Healthy Living
A third trend that has fueled the minimalist movement in packaging is the markets sense of transparency and honesty in the marketing of products today. Access to information via the internet has produced consumers that are far more educated about the products they buy, and expect honest communication from the brands they are loyal to. Simplifying packaging is a response to that trend by brands and CPG companies.
Breaking Through the Noise
Looking at traditional packaging design mediums from the ’60s to the ’90s, there was such a dominant design aesthetic that prevailed – flashy labels that called out to consumers in the shopping aisle, that appealed to certain demographics (children), with offers and logos/mascots/gimmicks that it got to a point where there was so much clutter that designers almost had to go the other way, a full reboot to clean the palette of consumers. Look no farther than an old favorite – Doritos, from my formative years in high school and college.
Competition for store shelf placement has never been higher, due to unprecedented growth in private label and own label products from retailers. Thirty years ago, shelves were stocked with a few competing national brands, and a generic store brand targeted at value shoppers. Today, SKU proliferation is at an all-time high, with National Brands competing with multiple SKU and line extensions from private label and retailer products. Investment in private label brand by retailers has changed the CPG industry, and brands have been forced to react. Clean and minimal packaging offers a stark difference on store shelves and catches the consumers eye, making it easier for smaller brands and start-up in the food industry to gain attention.
More than a Trend
The success of minimalist approaches to packaging have ensured that this movement is more than just a trend – it is here to stay and will be a significant design aesthetic for years to come. In addition to the clear branding benefits, a residual benefit to minimalist packaging is the positive impact it has on the packaging commercialization process. Brand managers across the CPG market are sure to think positively on how minimalism reduces cycle time for packaging commercialization and enables their packaging teams to be more nimble and bring packaging to market more efficiently.
If the prevalence of minimalist packaging and product design is any indicator of its staying power, then the trend is well on its way to settling into the mainstream. Maybe for years to come. Here are just some of our favorite minimalist designs: