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Shopper Trends|March 25, 2020

Want Brand Loyal? Then Go for Greener Packaging

Our research shows that brand loyalty is low, while the demand for sustainable practices is accelerating. We see the shopper’s attention to sustainability in their preferences for clean ingredients, recycling and re-using, and their attention will quickly extend to product packaging. That presents an opportunity: brands and retailers should use sustainable packaging to rebuild customer loyalty. Here’s a glimpse into what our Future Shop 2021-23 research reveals.

Packaging Practices Matter as Much as Product

Shoppers tell us there are many great products, and they are all interchangeable, so what could help a product stand apart from the crowd? How about the packaging it comes in.

We’re not talking about container design or clever product names, but the actual materials that house the goods. Whether we attribute it to Greta Thunberg or the raging fires of Australia, the lack of snow in the northeast or flooding in the South, today’s shoppers are paying closer attention to how the products they buy affect the world they live in. It’s all part of their broader pursuit of wellness, and that quest now extends to concerns about packaging.

Indeed, low-waste packaging practices – such as Nike Grind’s recycled sneakers and Ethique’s plastic-free cleansers – are the new requirement for shopper loyalty, right up there with convenience, value and assortment – and wellness. Our How America Shops® research shows:

  • 40% or less of all shoppers are loyal to one brand, across the 17 consumer product categories we measure.
  • In seemingly important categories such as over-the-counter medications and cosmetics, less than 25% of shoppers are loyal to one brand.
  • Shoppers are, however, increasingly loyal to sustainable behaviors. An estimated 35% of shoppers recycle today, and our research shows a third recycle more today than two year ago; 20% are recycling by buying pre-owned products.

The conclusion is as evident as debris in the oceans and landfills: packaging practices matter more and can be the tug that turns an indifferent shopper into a loyal customer.

Low Waste is Just Part 1 of a Holistic Package

Brands and retailers that ignore the movement toward package streamlining risk losing shoppers to companies that do.

Some retailers have introduced entire brick or online concepts that encourage refilling packages to reduce waste, and they are giving their shoppers starring roles. These brands and retailers stand to gain the elusive and highly valuable currency of customer loyalty, an investment that shouldn’t go to waste.

Want to learn more about our Future Shop 2021-23 report? You can download a preview through our free infographic here.

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