Older generations focus on eco packaging, study finds

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Packaging and labeling, Sustainable packaging, Packaging

A consumer’s age profile can influence whether they base their purchasing decisions on the eco-friendliness of packaging, according to a new survey.

The branding and marketing company, the Sage Group, said that it conducted a web-based research study and delivered it to nearly 800 multiple-generation US consumers via an email or a Facebook link.

The participants were broken down into Millennials (17-25 years), GenXers (26-40 years), Boomers (41-55 years) and Matures (56+ years), explained the firm.

Question type

The Sage Group said that it took care to use commonly understood terms, and added that the survey did not, for example, refer to ‘sustainable packaging,’ as it claims that 89 per cent of consumers do not know what it means.

According to the marketing and branding company, the participants instead were asking questions ranging from, ‘What makes a company or brand environmentally friendly?​’ to ‘How does that friendliness affect purchasing decisions?’

The results showed that GenXers and Matures in particular assess a package and choose products with an eye to environmental friendliness, and will pay a bit more for products that score high on the eco scale, with one response from a mature participant being: “I believe in environmentally oriented anything.”

Price guides younger group

In contrast, said the Sage Group, the Millennials acknowledge the impact of product packaging, but do not take that observation to the purchasing level. They view themselves as poor, so price is their primary purchasing consideration.

When it comes to being environmentally responsible, the marketing group said that the survey indicated that consumers of all ages regard recycling as the key component of good environmental practices.

The responses illustrated that most Millennials surveyed will recycle when it is convenient (56.8 per cent) but most GenXers (69.6 per cent), Boomers (67.6 per cent) and Matures (89.7 per cent) said they always recycle.

Brand change

When participants were asked if sustainable packaging would encourage them to switch to a different product, the Millennials showed little inclination to switch brands for the greater good, unless the eco-friendly alternative were lower-priced.

The outcome of the survey also demonstrates that the other three generations were also reluctant to change, but were open to reviewing product eco information to guide their decision-making.

The Sage Group added that the responses to this question underscored the importance of education in helping consumers make the right decisions for the right reasons, with more awareness needed on the subtleties surrounding the 3Rs of reduce, recycle and reuse.

Common factors

Some of the findings show all four generations concurring, with all the age groups viewing ‘over-packaging’ as environmentally destructive and all generations recognising greenwashing when they see it – each age group said that authenticity and transparency are essential to them, according to the report.

The marketing company also said its survey highlights the fact that all generations of consumers are unaware of sustainability nuances of the various types of packaging materials from plastic to glass and to them sustainable packaging is recyclable packaging.

Related topics: Packaging & Design

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