Honesty the best policy: Genuine sustainability credentials as a differentiator at the till point?

By Naomi Stewart, Marketing Manager at Easyfairs

In a world where sustainability has become a buzzword, consumers seek genuine environmental stewardship from the brands they support. Packaging sustainability has reached a critical juncture where authenticity, honesty, and transparency are emerging as crucial differentiators at the point of sale. By prioritising genuine sustainability and effectively communicating to consumers, businesses can gain competitive advantage and capture the hearts and wallets of conscientious shoppers. However, while consumers expect sustainable solutions, are they willing to pay extra for them?

As consumers become savvier, genuine sustainability is promising to be the ultimate differentiator at the point of sale. It goes beyond catchy phrases and greenwashing tactics, representing a commitment to transparent practices that resonate with conscientious shoppers. Consumer research consistently highlights the growing demand for sustainable packaging. McKinsey’s 2020 US consumer sentiment survey revealed that over 60% of respondents were willing to pay more for products with sustainable packaging. However, it is important to note that while consumers express this willingness, they are only sometimes prepared to pay extra for sustainability. This challenges businesses that want to prioritise sustainability while keeping prices competitive. Nonetheless, the demand for sustainability remains strong. 

In a recent interview with Sustainability Consultant Steve Lister, he said, “We have one second for consumers to make their purchasing decisions. While some individuals are willing to pay more and prioritise sustainability, many consumers default to old habits or prioritise price when standing in front of store shelves.” However, Lister noted that “younger generations, like Gen Z, exhibit a stronger inclination toward sustainability and are more likely to invest in sustainable brands that match with their sustainability values. They have been brought up with it.”

Organisations across various industries recognise the importance of sustainability and are taking steps to meet consumer expectations. Many companies are pursuing B Corp certification, which verifies a company’s commitment to social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. This certification has gained popularity among consumers who appreciate the rigorous standards and holistic approach to sustainability that B Corps uphold. By becoming B Corp certified, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and attract like-minded consumers.

Industry bodies like OPRL (On-Pack Recycling Label) support brand owners and manufacturers in effectively communicating their sustainable packaging credentials. OPRL’s trusted labelling system allows companies to indicate recyclability and provide disposal guidance, empowering consumers to make informed choices and contribute to a circular economy. This transparent approach builds trust and ensures genuine progress, countering the rise in greenwashing practices that mislead consumers.

In conclusion, it is fair to say that today’s consumer not only expects sustainability from the brands they support but also prioritises transparency and authenticity. And, while consumers may want and expect sustainable products, they are not always willing to pay extra for them. However, organisations that effectively communicate their sustainability efforts with independent verification and pursue certifications like B Corp can attract consumers who appreciate and value genuine sustainability. By prioritising transparency, adopting responsible practices, and participating in industry events like London Packaging Week to stay at the forefront of packaging sustainability, businesses can align with consumer expectations and contribute to a more sustainable future. London Packaging Week is an important platform to educate and raise awareness about genuine packaging sustainability. The event brings together industry experts, companies, and consumers to showcase sustainable packaging solutions, share best practices, and engage in meaningful discussions. Companies like D S Smith, Ecosurety, Surepack, and many others, exemplify honesty and transparency in their sustainable initiatives. To learn more about companies leading the way in genuine packaging sustainability, visit London Packaging Week – www.londonpackagingweek.com

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