Business development · 3 September 2018

How to retain brand image in the age of eco-friendly packaging?

brand identity
As a rule of thumb, avoid making more than one major change to your packaging at a time
Amid increased consumer demand for more streamlined and sustainable packaging, manufacturers face the challenge of creating solutions that retain brand recognition while producing less waste. Avoid missing the mark by following the advice from packaging industry insiders.

What’s more important to your business maintaining brand recognition or complying with consumer expectations? The public is leaning increasingly toward minimal and eco-friendly packaging when making purchasing decisions, according to research.

The?Nielsen Global Surveyon corporate social responsibility found 52% of respondents across the world said their sustainable purchase decisions are influenced by packaging. Of those who will pay extra for sustainable products and those who check the packaging for sustainable labelling, over half are millennials (those born between the early 1980s and late 1990s), the study showed.

As a result, manufacturers are looking to their packaging suppliers for cost-effective solutions. But even where aims can be met to reduce weight, shrink volume or offer a compostable alternative, can the product remain recognisable at the point of sale? We offer a few tips to help you strike the right balance.

Learn from brands that have got it wrong

Sometimes even the big names make packaging decisions that go down badly with consumers. One notable example is PepsiCo’s biodegradable bag for its US snack SunChips, which it was forced to withdraw after customers complained the packet was too noisy. And in 2009, Tropicana unveiled an ill-conceived product redesign, which resulted in sales dropping by 20%.

Mick Clark, managing director at?WePack, says too much change isnt necessarily a good thing. Many consumers are creatures of habit they like to recognise their favourite products on the shelf quickly. Therefore, manufacturers making radical changes even with the best intentions could end up alienating loyal customers.

As a rule of thumb, avoid making more than one major change to your packaging at a time for example, either graphics or structure, but not both.

Consider the product

Decisions about packaging changes should of course take into account the type of product contained within. Food packaging presents a challenge in that it needs to retain functionality while remaining aesthetically pleasing but films for encasing food products are not yet widely recyclable, which adds to the difficulty.

where you’ve got flavour, colour and shelf life, it’s a requirement to have certain films that have barrier properties, Clark explained. Foil is in itself recyclable but it isnt when it’s got two layers of plastic either side of it. There are compostable films out there, but not films that are suitable for food use, or that will give you anything like the shelf life that any supermarket is wishing for.

But beauty products, for instance, lend themselves to more sustainable packaging design and materials particularly since the contents are already leading the way in that respect: UK legislation has now banned the use of microbeads due to the harm they pose to the environment. A number of beauty brands now use biodegradable materials to package their products, including bamboo, seaweed and even chalk.

Consider the destination

it’s also important to weigh up the logistics involved in getting your product to market, particularly when trying to minimise packaging.

most manufacturers use a low-cost, single-colour print, cardboard SRP [shelf-ready package] because it’s a way of not only displaying the product but transporting the product, said Clark. ‘some SRPs are then put into an outer carton, which is excess packaging, but if you’re transporting it overseas it’s necessary to have something that can withstand lots of handling.

However, where extra packaging is necessary for transportation, it may still be possible to reduce the weight and therefore amount of material that’s used, Clark added. Many of our customers are asking us if there’s anything we can do even if it’s a cardboard box where we could reduce the grade by 20% and make it a lighter box that’s still protective, he says.

Use it as a new form of marketing



Praseeda Nair is an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.