The nature of luxury means sustainability isn’t No. 1 packaging priority

The nature of luxury means sustainability isn’t No. 1 packaging priority

Related tags Environment

When buying a beauty product from the luxury end of the scale we have a different hierarchy of needs, which means sustainable packaging is not the number one priority.

As these products often cost more, we are looking for a certain level of quality and aesthetics that represent value in our purchase.

“We have a hierarchy of needs as to what is important,”​ explains Dr Benjamin Puchard, senior global packaging analyst at Mintel.

“In beauty, when you are buying a luxury product, you are buying a treat for yourself – you are allowing for it to cost a bit more and your need for it to be environmentally friendly is lower as you are treating yourself,”​ he tells


This is in contrast to when consumers buy a commodity such as shampoo, as there is a vast array of choice, with all scents catered for, and a lot of very similar products.

“That is when our needs become different and if one product promises to be more environmentally friendly than another then we will choose that one. There are levels of needs and importance when you are shopping,”​ continues Mintel’s man.

With luxury packaging you have the high-end, ‘money’s-no-object’ aspect, so people are looking for different things; whether this is to be engaged or entertained by packaging.

When you go to the mass, lower-end of the scale, value becomes more important and people look at things differently, and are picking up products for different reason.

“This gives more scope for trends, such as the environment, where people are perhaps a bit more forgiving of packs that are less practical or that have an environmental message that may compromise the look slightly. So, sometimes it can be a positive to move away from the luxe,”​ says Punchard.

The packaging specialist says that the problem with luxe when it comes to the environment is that the quality of the materials is sometimes not good enough.

Consumers will not want to put the effort in and part with large sums of money for a compromised product.

Natural importance

Away from the premium segment, it is important for brands to be viewed as environmentally friendly when targeting consumers for whom natural and environmental is a signifier of a high quality product.

There are a certain number of consumers who have grown up with organic and environment being a positive and that association is with better quality ingredients and with ingredients that are perceived to be better for you.

“If you are making that message in the formulation of your product then you can reinforce that with the packaging as it supports the positioning the of the product ion the pack,”​ adds Punchard.

“A good example of this is Pantene using plant based bottles just for its Nature Fusion range – as it supports the product’s message of ‘plant power’.”

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