Sustainability & Labels: Part 1

Why sustainability is trending in labels – and why you should care.

Sustainability is here to stay. It has become a major driving force in every aspect of business operations as well as consumer choice. In fact, external demand – from environmental groups and eco-minded consumers to activist investors – is the primary impetus for corporate sustainable initiatives.

Consumer packaged goods, in particular, are on the front lines of the sustainability movement.

Products on retail shelves and e-tail sites have high visibility when it comes to sustainability. The package and label are front and center in communicating a brand’s eco efforts. Marketers that ignore the growing demand for eco-friendly labeling and packaging risk losing sales in a matter of seconds.

The demand is growing

It is predicted that over the next five years, there will be an explosive growth in a focus on sustainability around the globe as more and more consumers seek ways to reduce waste and protect the environment. Research shows that consumers consider sustainability to be “among the most important factors when determining their spending habits.” One study reports that 61 percent strive to purchase products from companies that have made public commitments to sustainability goals.

So important, in fact, that they’re willing to pay a premium for it:

  • 3 in 5 adults (61%) say they would be willing to pay more for food products packaged with sustainable materials
  • 35% would consider paying up to 10% more

That translates into big business. Forecasts indicate that by 2021, eco-minded shoppers will spend up to $150 billion on sustainable fast-moving consumer goods.

Key eco-conscious consumer segment

If your target market is millennials, pay attention. Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers (53% vs. 34%) to say they would be willing to forgo a brand in order to buy products that are environmentally friendly.

But it is more nuanced than simply marketing sustainable products to consumers born between 1980 and 1996. The majority of Americans (60%) fall into what is known as the “Sustainable Mainstream” category. These consumers want to be more environmentally conscious, but are also searching for additional benefits beyond sustainability, such as improving health or cost savings.

The sustainability ball is in your court

As a consumer goods brand, if you haven’t already taken steps to adopt sustainability into your package label, it’s time to make a move. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll discuss the important distinctions between sustainable packaging terms that are absolutely critical to your label and packaging materials choices.

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