“The research explored aspects of various packaging options that British soft drink consumers consider to be important drivers of their purchasing decisions,” said Ton Hoppenbrouwers of ITW Hi-Cone. “With regard to some of the micro-level concerns, a key variable we studied is how consumers perceive the environmental impact of packaging, and if they make buying decisions based on those perceptions.”
In the past year, Hi-Cone has been working with its customers in Europe to survey consumer attitudes about packaging and determine if various designs and options have favourable or unfavourable impact on brand awareness and purchasing preferences.
In 2008, Hi-Cone conducted a multi-country study on consumer attitudes about bottled water packaging and found those consumers fall in two categories: individuals who respond well to brand visibility and are influenced by shelf appeal and those classified as ‘purists’ based on their preference for packaging that shows the clean, natural features of the product.
Key concerns raised in this study are too many PET bottles being disposed in the environment and a strong preference for packages that are easy to carry and open, convenient for storage and leave less waste for disposal.
For the soft drinks packaging study, Hi-Cone surveyed British consumers ages 18-45 in the communities of Birmingham and Slough. Respondents were asked to evaluate the respective advantages and disadvantages of shrink-wrapped and oriented multipacks of soft drinks in Hi-Cone carriers.
The results showed that oriented Hi-Cone multipacks are preferred by younger adult soft-drink consumers to shrink-wrapped packages across a wide spectrum of concerns. Hi-Cone multipacks were judged as being preferable to shrink in all tested functional and emotional categories.
The data showed that consumers believe Hi-Cone packages have better shelf appeal than shrink, are more convenient for storage, and produce less disposable waste. “A clear message that came through in the study is that Hi-Cone can help soft drink companies upgrade their environmental image,” said Hoppenbrouwers. “Consumers, therefore, are likely to see Hi-Cone as a welcome and responsible packaging option.”
He added that consumers throughout Europe are voicing their preferences for minimal packaging, and this research should allay concerns that brand imaging will suffer without loud graphics emblazoned on shrink-wrapped multipacks.
“Based on this research, we’re advising our soft drink customers that the goals of brand awareness building and making environmentally sound packaging choices are not incompatible,” said Hoppenbrouwers. “Truly minimal packaging solutions are available with ring carrier multipacks and, based on consumer responses, these packages also can provide excellent shelf visibility.”
The findings of the Hi-Cone study are consistent with published reports that sustainable packaging is gaining wider acceptance in the beverage industry. Packworld.com recently reported that packaging design professionals believe that moving towards sustainable packaging options can be done successfully and not take away from brand image or appeal.
The website quotes several experts who advise that a good first step is to treat sustainable design as an extension of the core branding strategy instead of a replacement. “Being green isn’t a separate issue that you take care of and then bring into your marketing and strategy and creative processes and somehow enact it,” wrote Packworld.com.
For Hi-Cone, an incremental approach to achieving sustainable packaging makes its orientation system very appealing to brand managers: “Adopting orientation doesn’t require a drastic shift in packaging materials or brand graphics. It’s a virtually seamless way to transition from waste-laden, shrink-wrapped multipacks,” said Hoppenbrouwers. “Our research continues to prove that with orientation, brand managers can have it both ways: achieve truly sustainable packaging solutions while preserving and perhaps enhancing brand images. These days, environment-conscious consumers appreciate companies that do what they can to eliminate waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Source: ITW Hi-Cone
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