10 Surprising Facts About Packaging (and packaging waste)

28 Jun 2022 • 2 minute read


There are many reasons why packaging design, manufacture and its environmental impact are so important.

Packaging design can be a powerful marketing tool, from tapping into the consumer subconscious, understanding their view on sustainability, to considering value-added functionality.

Did you know that more than 70% of purchasing decisions are made in-store, and, as consumers, we only take between 5-7 seconds to make a purchasing decision when we're there?

The average supermarket stocks over 40,000 different products, all vying to grab our attention as we walk around. That's a lot of messaging.

To help their products stand out in-store, brands use attention-grabbing materials, designs, colours, finishes, and an array of convenience features that serve as motivational triggers. Multiple teams of designers, buyers, technologists, quality managers and even retail psychologists work for months to deliver one product launch in-store for the big brands. Why? Because they understand packaging can make the difference between a sale or no sale. If you're a smaller brand, you can replicate some of this science to ensure your products compete in the retail space.

Facts about Packaging

Here is a range of facts that may help you tune into your packaging requirements, regardless of whether you're a big brand or a start-up company: 

  • Almost a third of purchasing decision-making is based on packaging alone. According to research, packaging could be more of a driving factor in a purchase decision than previously thought, compared to other marketing tactics such as TV, Radio and online reviews.
  • 74% of 18-25-year-olds would share an image of product packaging through social media. This can influence peers and increase brand exposure in the millennial and Gen Z market.
  • Conversely, research has shown that 45% of consumers take to social media to share their unfavourable views about packaging if they have a negative experience. So, if your packaging doesn't deliver, don't be surprised by an online backlash that could result in lasting damage to your brand reputation.
  • 66% of consumers said they had tried a new product because of the packaging.
  • 52% of online shoppers say they would shop again from a business if it included premium packaging.
  • Businesses have reported a 30% increase in consumer engagement when they pay close attention to product packaging.

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The Importance of Sustainable Packaging

Think about the sustainability of your packaging too. This is becoming an increasing factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions. Although there is still work to do, a considerable amount of product packaging is reused – mainly if it's high quality, well designed and produced. If this is the case, your brand reach extends far beyond the initial purchase. Think about the Apple iPhone; when did you last throw away the box? Far beyond when you initially started using the product.

With such limited time to make an impact and in a crowded environment, it's no surprise that well-designed packaging can help make or break a sale, especially when most consumers tend to make quick purchasing decisions.

The trend for ‘unboxing’ on social media shows no signs of abating either. If your product packaging stands out from the crowd as being innovative, high quality and sustainable, it’s making the right impact on multiple levels.

Sticking with sustainability, we cannot ignore the impact of packaging on the environment. As an industry collective, we must do more. Some startling facts for you:

  • In 2019, packaging waste was estimated at 178.1 kg per inhabitant in the EU (varying from 74.0 kilograms per inhabitant in Croatia to a whopping 228.0 kg per inhabitant in Ireland).
  • Of this packaging waste, over 15.4 million tonnes per year is plastic waste.
  • Over 11 million tonnes of plastic waste enter our oceans every year. Without action, this may triple by 2040.
  •  Paper packaging is an eco-friendly alternative. Plus, it improves buyers’ perception of the product. A US poll showed that 63% of consumers surveyed said they thought paper and cardboard packaging make products seem high quality compared to other types of packaging. 69% believe that paper or cardboard packaging makes a product seem more authentic.

Without a doubt, it’s food for thought for packaging designers. What could you be doing to improve the quality and sustainability of your packaging?

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