By: Alison Kim, senior director of strategic marketing, WestRock
The relationship between brands, retailers and consumers has evolved significantly since WestRock began tracking consumer satisfaction with packaging in 2013. While plenty has changed over the past six year in how consumers shop – consider the rise in e-commerce – our research shows that Packaging Matters even more today than ever. Consumer satisfaction with packaging has increased nearly 50 percent over the past six years, and our 2018 Packaging Matter study found that satisfaction with packaging can help brands grow their business.
WestRock’s Annual Packaging Matters Study is conducted and analyzed by an independent research firm and is used by packaging professionals to better understand consumer attitudes toward packaging and how brands can use packaging to increase trust with consumers and influence purchasing behavior.
How important is packaging? As the retail environment evolves and consumer demands change, consider this fact: packaging is the one element of the marketing mix that is guaranteed to reach every consumer.
Specific findings from this year’s study are benefits that tie directly to evolving consumer shopping preferences, including elements of functionality, trust and the impact of packaging satisfaction on purchasing behavior.
From in-store purchases to at-home deliveries, consumers value the functional benefits of packaging that keep products safe, secure and easy to use. Functional benefits – like safety, delivery and convenience – are top drivers of packaging satisfaction.
In fact, 84 percent of consumers indicate a top driver of packaging satisfaction is the package’s ability to ensure the integrity of the product, and 77 percent said packaging that makes it easy to get all the product out was important.
Seventy-five percent of consumers say their purchase decisions are impacted by packaging made from materials that prevent the product from leaking or breaking. Delivery features can also contribute to customer satisfaction, with 75 percent of consumers indicating delivery features, such as making sure packaging from delivery services is securely closed, are important. Not surprisingly, this feature is even higher – 81 percent – for consumers who predominately shop online.
Functionality isn’t as cut and dried when it comes to differences between men and women or among generations.
- Eighty percent of women value packaging that is easy to open versus 71 percent of men.
- More women (74 percent) than men (68 percent) value packaging with features that help keep them and their family safe.
- 20 percent more Millennials than other generations value packaging that is easy to find on a shelf (76 percent versus 56 percent).
- Packaging that is easy to store at home matters more to Millennials (80 percent) than other generations (69 percent).
Consumers are loyal to brands they trust and packaging that delivers on key measures of efficacy, safety and protection can help build and maintain brand trust.
Over the last decade, consumers have placed a greater emphasis on trust, requiring brands to think about reputational issues in a more critical and proactive way. Which packaging features can help build trust? According to 2018 Packaging Matters, these features include:
- Protecting products from tampering or contamination (79 percent)
- Using materials that keep consumers safe (71 percent)
- Communicating transparently and honestly, including identifying potential dangers (71 percent)
Consumers trust packaging for medicine and non-alcoholic beverages the most (73 percent) and online food service delivery packaging the least (59 percent).
Women tend to be more trusting of packaging than men, particularly with medicine (76 percent vs. 70 percent males), pet care (73 percent vs. 65 percent males) and baby care (71 percent vs. 61 percent males)
By investing in packaging, business leaders are directly contributing to a product element that builds trust, a vital brand attribute valued by consumers.
Although the 2018 Packaging Matters study reveals that packaging satisfaction is most closely tied to benefits that connect back to consumer values – functionality and trust – aesthetics are the primary driver impacting consumers’ decisions to try something new, buy something again or switch brands.
- 81 percent of consumers said they have tried something new because the packaging caught their eye.
- A packaging’s appearance or aesthetics compelled 63 percent of consumers to purchase a product again.
- 52 percent have changed brands from a product they have purchased in the past because of new packaging.
Since the first Packaging Matters study, the percentage of consumers who purchased a product because of the innovative nature of the packaging increased by 45 percent, and consumers who compared different products’ packaging to make a purchase decision increased by 43 percent.
Understanding what motivates today’s shopper to complete a purchase is critically important. As brand marketers and retailers weigh where to invest money and time, the 2018 Packaging Matters study reveals that packaging features including functionality, safety and aesthetic appeal have significant implications for consumer perceptions and behavior. Evolving consumer shopping preferences and the changing role of the retail store are actively transforming interactions with packaging and creating new opportunities and challenges that require increasingly agile packaging strategies that capitalize on these core components.
Today, more than ever, packaging matters.
About the Author
Alison Kim is the senior director of strategic marketing, WestRock. She uses insight-driven innovation to address clients’ most pressing needs and drive growth, reduce risk and improve sustainability efforts. WestRock partners with customers to provide differentiated paper and packaging solutions that help them win in the marketplace. WestRock’s 45,000 team members support customers around the world from more than 300 operating and business locations spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.