Work sustainability into brand value

Managers who have a hand in integrating sustainability and design advise consumer packaged goods companies that are new to this approach to be sure that any sustainability effort is part of a marketing strategy that consumers can clearly associate with brand value.

Sustainable packaging by itself, while an important undertaking, won’t universally sway consumer purchase decisions.
Paul Earl-Torniainen, senior packaging engineer at General Mills, says about 1% of consumers are willing to pay more at retail for a sustainable package. “These consumers are motivated primarily by the types of materials used,” he said at the recent Proof: Market Research and Strategy Development for Package Design conference in Chicago.

His belief is consistent with recent findings from Perception Research Services. The consultancy determined that many shoppers believe they are responsible for recycling packaging. However, they believe product manufacturers should take ownership for packaging products in environmentally friendly materials—and not charge them a penny more for it.
Should biodegradability enter into the sustainable design equation? Torniainen had this perspective for brand marketers and package designers and engineers in his audience: Biodegradability should not be a design goal, because packaging materials don’t biodegrade appreciably in landfills.

“My advice is that if you’re designing for biodegradation, you’re going in the wrong direction,” he said. 

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