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How Sustainable Packaging Can Impact Brand Image

When it comes to a consumer’s experience with a brand, its packaging is the first moment of truth.

 

By Sarah Stieby, Fresh-Lock® Marketing Manager at Reynolds Consumer Products

How Sustainable Packaging Can Impact Brand Image

Even though they are buying the product within the package, the packaging provides the first tangible point of contact with a brand. For this reason, it is important that consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands see packaging as less of a necessary expense, and more of an investment in their brand. There are a variety of different packaging formats and features that could impact the consumer’s experience for the better, especially for brands wanting to appeal to an eco-conscious consumer audience. Brands that capitalize on packaging as a strategic tool can elevate their brand’s identity and align with the consumers’ expectations.


Creating Distinction Through Visual Impact and Consumer Experience


In this fast-paced and visually driven world, packaging design plays a pivotal role in helping shape consumer perceptions. As the face of a CPG brand, it is important that the packaging stands out from the competition and helps capture the attention of consumers who are bombarded with products and advertisements daily. In addition to eye-catching design, certain packaging formats—such as a reclosable flexible pouch—can present nicely on the shelf with a bold, front-facing billboard effect that helps advertise a product more favorably than packaging that might lie flat.


Beyond aesthetics, how the consumer interacts with a package to access their product can make or break the user experience. Intuitive and well-designed packaging that enhances convenience, ease of use, and product protection can determine the consumer’s overall satisfaction. When a brand prioritizes these practical aspects, it can help cultivate trust and loyalty among consumers.

In the pursuit of enhancing the user experience, brands may want to think about reclosability as an added feature. The convenience and portability that comes from reclosability alone is a differentiator that can have a lasting impact, even more so if the product has multiple servings or requires proper storage between uses. Reclosable packaging helps protect freshness and longevity—showcasing a brand’s commitment to maintaining quality throughout the product’s useful life. Beyond enhancing visual appeal, the right closure can help brands algin their product with the busy lifestyle of consumers seeking convenient and sustainable options.

In a time when new generations of eco-conscious consumers are driving change, brands and packagers must constantly work to align business practices with the expectations of these sustainability-minded audiences.


The Sustainable Shift


In a time when new generations of eco-conscious consumers are driving change, brands and packagers must constantly work to align business practices with the expectations of these sustainability-minded audiences. For brands wanting to reduce their carbon footprint and ultimately resonate with environmentally conscious consumers, choosing a packaging structure with a more circular end-of-life scenario can help make a big impact.


The emergence of mono-material structures and compatible add-ons—like closures—have helped make fully recyclable pouches more accessible. Whether a brand wants to embrace recyclability or venture toward another waste management method, like compostability, largely depends on the product itself. For example, certain products may leave remnants on packaging that would contaminate the recycling process yet help aid in composting. In the same vein, some products may contain chemicals or leave unfavorable residue on a package adding toxicity to the soil, and as such, are not ideal for composting.

Regardless of the chosen path, the commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility can help set a brand apart and appeal to consumers who prioritize spending on environmentally conscious products.


Reclosability as a Dual Solution


While reclosability is an impactful feature for creating a positive user experience, it also doubles as a solution for reducing waste. Transitioning products from their original packaging to a secondary storage option can increase the carbon footprint. Reclosable packaging designed with quality-maintaining barriers helps ensure product longevity, while also helping to curb unnecessary waste and eliminating the need for single-use bags or repeatedly cleaning reusable containers.


Furthermore, brands have often invested a great deal of resources into their package to make it a reflection of the brand itself. Reclosable packaging helps perpetuate brand exposure post-purchase, reinforcing brand identity in the consumers’ minds. This reoccurring marketing opportunity makes it more likely that when it’s time to repurchase, consumers will return to the brand they’ve come to know and rely on.

Keeping Up With Continued Innovation and Consumer Expectations

Between ongoing film development, new eco-friendly inks, printing technologies, and more, there are innovative technologies and trends emerging in sustainable packaging daily. In some cases, breakthroughs occur that help brands use less water, recycle packaging components more easily, or return natural resources back to the environment. To keep up with these changes and continually improve in terms of sustainability, it’s important that brands build and maintain a strong network of suppliers that understand these changes.

If a brand is unsure where to begin, start with companies in the industry that have good references and follow up on those references. Go to packaging conferences, network, and seek to understand the supply chain until you have a good idea of where everything is sourced. This continued research is important at all levels so brands can determine if they are selecting the right sustainability partners, while ensuring that those partners have proven themselves trustworthy. By staying agile and diversifying their knowledge of the packaging industry, CPG brands can feel good knowing their own sustainability claims are genuine.

Crafting a Sustainable Brand Image: Going Beyond Packaging

Packaging often serves as a tangible expression of the brand—what that brand values, why it’s different, and why consumers should care. As the call for sustainability continues to grow, CPG brands should stay ahead of the curve and consider the environmental impact of their business all the way down to their packaging. But it shouldn’t end there. Though packaging sets the first impression, brands that truly want to appeal to eco-conscious consumers should continually find new ways to implement sustainable practices at all levels of their business. Any singular change is good, but there is no final destination when it comes to sustainability. Instead, brands should strive for continuous improvement, setting new goals, and accelerating their ambitions for a greener future.


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