Is Sustainability A Silver Bullet For CX?

Eco-friendly packaging influences purchase decisions, customer retention and brand affinity.

New Findings Underscore the Power of Sustainability in Building a Brand

By Maria Haggerty, CEO & Co-founder of Dotcom Distribution

Sustainability has permeated virtually every aspect of the supply chain, from material sourcing to manufacturing to transportation and all stops in between. But none of these areas has seemed to evoke consumers’ attention and impact their purchase decisions quite like packaging has.

Based on our March 2022 survey of 1,150 consumers across the U.S. who shop online, packaging—specifically eco-friendly packaging—is a pillar of not only purchase decision, but customer retention and brand affinity.

Dotcom Distribution’s March 2022 survey of 1,150 consumers across the U.S. who shop online revealed eco-friendly packaging is a pillar of not only purchase decisions, but also customer retention and brand affinity.

Build it (sustainably) and they will come (back)

In 2021, 42 percent of survey respondents reported brands’ use of sustainable packaging is what earns their return business. Just a year later, a whopping 69 percent of the 2022 study participants reported eco-friendly packaging was the feature most likely to make them shop with a brand again, outshining value-adds such as free samples and gift-like packaging. All of this emphasizes the power of sustainability in building a brand.

The proof is in the packaging

The big takeaway here is that the internal and external packaging that accompanies online orders has the potential to generate even more sales and customer retention, especially among eco-conscious consumers.  Here are some of the key findings from Dotcom Distribution’s 8th annual e-commerce study, pointing to the growing influence of sustainability:

  1. When asked what factors would make them more likely to shop with a brand again, consumers rank sustainable packaging higher than free product samples, swag (stickers, keychains, etc.), personal notes and premium packaging experiences.
  2. Sixty-six percent of consumers cite eco-friendly packaging as the sustainability factor most likely to make them shop with a brand, outweighing fuel-efficient transportation methods and ethical sourcing. Compare this to data from the March 2021 study, at which time sustainable packaging was still the leading factor, but only 45 percent of respondents felt this way.
  3. When deciding who to give their business to, 43 percent of consumers value eco-friendly practices (sustainable packaging, fuel-efficiency, ethical sourcing) more so than purchases that support charitable initiatives.
  4. Twenty-six percent of participants say receiving an online order that features eco-friendly packaging makes them more likely to share photos or videos of products on social media.
  5. Of the 81 percent of consumers who prefer to receive items in boxes rather than poly bags, 32 percent specifically credit their preference with the fact that boxes are more eco-friendly.
  6. QR codes have made a huge comeback, particularly in the foodservice industry, but savvy brands have been incorporating them on and in packaging to drive and monitor customer traffic. But what’s most likely to make a customer scan? Twenty-eight percent said they’ll do it to be entered into contests or giveaways; 26 percent said when it provides personalized offers based on past purchases; 22 percent said when it tells them about the origin, ingredients, and carbon footprint of the shipped package.

Embrace sustainable packaging and you will be embraced

Consumers across all shopping categories and demographics are making it increasingly clear that sustainable business practices weigh heavily on brand sentiment and purchase behavior.

It’s not the only packaging factor influencing consumer emotion and behavior—for example, premium packaging elicits a positive response, persuading 34 percent of consumers to shop with a brand again, 41 percent to get more excited about opening the package, and 51 percent are inclined to think a brand is more upscale.

Sustainable packaging has become as a baseline expectation for online shoppers, and according to the numbers, their affinity for and loyalty to brands that embrace it are on a steady growth trajectory.

About the Author

Maria Haggerty is the co-founder and CEO of Dotcom Distribution, a multi-channel third-party logistics provider specializing in beauty brands.

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