At the heart of every decision a business makes is one thing: the consumer.

Marketing messages are carefully crafted to entice target audiences to act. The colors of the packaging are carefully selected to grab attention and invoke a specific feeling to those that see it. A website is designed to keep customers engaged with the goal to eventually convert.

All of these decisions are catered towards ideal customers who can benefit from purchasing a product or service, and to create a lifelong connection with that customer.

Because consumers’ preferences, needs, and desires are constantly evolving, brands must pay close attention to these shifts and blossoming trends to ensure they keep the attention of their customers.

One trend that has transcended industries is sustainability. Whereas some trends end up being nothing more than fads that eventually plateau (See: Crocs, jeggings, the pet rock), the excitement around purchasing clothes, food, and other products that are sustainable has only increased since its initial boom in the early 21st century.

But, it isn’t just the product that consumers expect to be sustainable. The entire business needs to possess sustainable qualities, including the packaging surrounding the product.

Today, we’re going to dive into why sustainability is so important for brands, why it isn’t so much a trend as it is the new normal, and some tips for how to improve sustainability in your packaging.

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Consumer Sustainability Trends and Stats

The sustainable mindset of consumers is not just a trend in the United States. On the contrary, sustainability is a global phenomenon that is going to continue to grow, with no end in sight.

A recent Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey found that 80% of the most active shoppers by generation (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X) answered “extremely” or “very” when asked how important it is that companies implement programs to improve the environment.

But consumers aren’t just talking the talk when it comes to sustainability; they’re also walking the walk.

The New York University Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) analyzed the purchasing data on the sales of over 71,000 products in 36 different categories within the consumer packaged goods industry.

The study found that sustainability marketed products (those labeled as non-GMO, plant-based, or certified by a third party like Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance) made up 50% of the sales growth of CPG products between 2013 and 2018. Combine this with the fact that sustainably marketed products make up just 17% of the CPG market, and one can easily see the powerful effect these types of products possess when it comes to branding.

It makes sense then that brands that are investing in sustainability are seeing a huge payoff as well. Unilever recently revealed that its most sustainable brands grew 46% faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70% of its turnover growth. This includes their Love Beauty and Planet brand, which uses packaging made from 100% recycled materials that are also recyclable after use.

But it’s not just CPG brands that are getting in on the action. Other industries like pharmaceuticals are also working towards more eco-friendly, sustainable packaging.

Speaking of packaging, consumers, regulators, and the industries themselves have never been more conscious of the plastic that is leaked into the environment from packaging. Because of this, consumer goods brands and retailers are committing to action plans in an effort to cut down on this waste in the future.

For example, compostability and the reduction of packaging material are becoming a top priority for brands over the next few years. In addition, brands want to do a better job of educating consumers on proper waste management.

It’s clear that today—if brands want to stay in the good graces of their customers—they need to prioritize sustainable practices, from the product itself to the package that it travels in.

You can read more about sustainability in packaging and other 2020 packaging trends here!

Curious about how you can improve the sustainability of your packaging? Here are some tips for doing just that.

How to Improve the Sustainability of Your Packaging

Perhaps the biggest hurdle that brands face when it comes to making their packaging more sustainable is the fact that it takes an initial investment. It involves changing the operations and the materials that make up the packaging. Anytime a company undergoes such a large change, there will be some challenges in the beginning.

Some companies have a hard time taking a step back so that they can take a step forward, but when it comes to sustainable packaging, the payoff speaks for itself.

Let’s look at Coca-Cola, for example. Since investing in sustainable packaging by adopting more resource-efficient designs and renewable and recyclable materials, the Atlanta-based company has saved $180 million per year.

In other words, it’s definitely worth that initial investment.

Brands can implement more sustainable business practices using technologies that can dramatically improve efficiency and eliminate waste. For example, Cape Pack is palletization software from Esko that helps reduce carbon footprint by digitally determining product size, case count, size, and load.

Here are some other key ways in which you can alter your packaging to make it more sustainable:

Go through a packaging sustainability audit

Taking the time to scrutinize your packaging process and looking for areas of improvement when it comes to waste will help you understand where there are opportunities for sustainability. When it comes down to it, it’s important that brands take responsibility for any plastic waste or other environmental issues they may be contributing to, identifying them, and finding solutions to reduce their carbon footprint.

Make the move to corrugated

Switching to corrugated packaging is a wise move, as cardboard is easily recyclable. In addition, cardboard boxes and other corrugated packaging are often reused by consumers for storage purposes.

Integrate recycled content plastics into your packaging

Recycled PET (RPET) is a type of plastic made from recycled water bottles, reducing the need to create new plastic that inevitably infiltrates landfills and oceans. Plastic is a huge factor when it comes to the high pollution levels throughout the world. By looking into creative strategies for reducing your plastic waste, you can help limit the overall impact plastic has on the environment.

Automate your packaging operations

Finding ways to automate specific areas of your packaging processes can help reduce the overuse of materials, as well as improve your production capabilities. If you still haven’t integrated more automation into your packaging design process, the time to start is now.

Looking to Improve Your Packaging Process? Contact Esko Today

Whether you want to build on the sustainability aspect of your packaging by integrating Cape Pack into your processes or are looking to improve the efficiency of your packaging process, Esko is the top packaging solution provider for brands.

Esko WebCenter is the premier solution for connecting all stakeholders for complete visibility when it comes to your packaging design process. From the initial ideation stages to the final prints, WebCenter helps you produce packaging that is perfect from the start.

In addition to the communication around packaging design, keeping track of all the assets revolved around your brand and packaging is another issue companies run into. With MediaBeacon, your team has a single, secure content hub to house all your brand assets for current packaging projects, or for repurposing for new, relevant projects.

To learn more about how Esko solutions can help your packaging, reach out to Esko today!

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