The survey was conducted by OBSoCo2 in four countries – Germany, Spain, France and Italy – and asked a wide selection of respondents their attitudes to packaging functionality, design, innovation , emotional impact and environmental impact.
While the survey does underline some consensus on certain key point, the survey also underlined some large differences in consumer attitude that were found to be heightened by cultural and generational differences.
The survey findings showed that when it comes to French and German consumer, there was a marked sway towards placing an emphasis on the importance of the packaging’s functionality.
However, moving further south in Europe, the Spanish and Italian consumers responded by stressing they liked to have an emotional connection with the packaging and were more swayed by aesthetics.
And although French consumers showed more scepticism towards packaging that boasted about innovation and experience, this group of consumers did stress the importance of useful information, particularly about helping them to buy the right amount to ensure the purchase makes economic sense.
The survey showed that 32% of French consumers saw packaging mainly as a source of useful information, while 18% considered it to be something that helped them buy the right quantity.
Germans go for eco-friendly claims
For Germans, the top-scoring preference for packaging was that it reduces environmental impact, whether as a lightweight packaging to reduce the volume of material, or a packaging material that could be given a second life.
Highlighting this, the survey findings showed that 32% of Germans said they prefer lightweight packaging, while 29% said they wanted their packaging to be reusable or recyclable.
This ties in with the fact that Germans are considered to be amongst the most eco-friendly nation in Europe, with some of the highest rates of recycling and the greatest use of renewable energy.
Italians and Spanish are all about aspirational
Drilling deeper on the Italian and Spanish penchant for aspirational packaging, the survey showed that consumers in both of these countries are also more optimistic with regards to innovation and the development of connected and customised packaging that represented ‘genuine advance’.
Indeed, 75% of Spanish and 66% of Spanish responded that they consider being connected to the packaging as important, while on a scale of 0 to 10, Spanish gave a 6.5 points for the importance of the ‘wow’ factor in packaging, while Italians gave a mark of 5.1 points.
Looking closer at the generational divide in what consumers expect from packaging, the survey found that those in the 18 – 24 age group were the biggest fans of connected packaging in all four countries, which they identified as being the result of wellness, product safety and a reduction in environmental impact.
Some 71% of those surveyed in the 18 – 24 age group said they thought of connected packaging as a genuine advance, compared with 57% across the whole sample, while 36% of 18 – 24 year olds said reduced packaging weight was also important.
Looking at the other end of the age spectrum, in the 55 to 70 age group, robust and reusable was the stand out packaging requirement, with 37% stressing they wanted product protection and 32% saying they wanted it to be reusable.