Sexy, eco-friendly packaging is a real possibility. The words recyclable, earth-friendly, green, and eco might make us yawn but designers are generating some fresh new styles spawned by sustainability. There are new designs and functional forms spawned from sustainable materials and they’re eye catching.
Right now, eco-friendly packaging and earth-friendly marketing is being used as a value-added differentiator — a real bottom line contributor. Consumer research is revealing that sustainability does impact product purchase. Consumers want reassurance that a product is recyclable and was made in an earth-friendly way. It’s hip now to be environmentally conscious and in a roundabout way, sustainable packaging design is resulting in packaging innovation that improves sales and lowers production costs.
Some packaging companies are exploiting “eco-sensible package design” to the hilt of course, probably because there is no other competitive brand advantage for them to work with. A few no-name brands may have benefitted from the eco-friendly tag, but are their efforts sexy enough? Given consumer attitudes, the best they could do is portray sustainable packaging as sensible. But refering to recycled waste and landfills is not brand-friendly. The sustainable product and display packaging has to stand on its own.
High performance packaging is sexy and sexy sells. By sexy, I mean pleasingly clean, fresh, visually engaging, and functional. Very often it means unique in texture, shape, functionality, and graphics, and unique’s not bad in a market full of knock off products. Sexy is an excuse to be disruptive, innovative and stylish. And as Harold Robbins wrote in his novel The Adventurers, everything comes back to fashion. It’s the style of the times, and eco-friendly, sustainable packaging has to have more going for it than the recycled look.
This is typical view of recycled materials:
The challenge for packaging manufacturers is to create high quality, recycled packaging materials (plastics, paper and cardboard) that enable outstanding functional designs. And they need to feel good and look good. Manufacturing technology is improving and new materials are being introduced to the market. At present, recycled materials have limitations that make them less usable. What’s needed is more technology and expertise applied to the task of developing high quality paper, plastic and cardboard from recyclable materials.
Mega retailers such as Walmart are demanding sustainable, more eco-friendly supplier solutions as indicated in their 6 year long program that includes their supplier Sustainability Index. Walmart’s actions are actually a key growth driver for sustainable packaging. The problem with adherence to their standards is that packaging has taken a dive in sexiness. What top brand wants a brown paper bag solution? If sustainable packaging is going to really catch on in client’s eyes, it will have to be more sexy.
Growth Drivers for Sustainable Packaging
Price Waterhouse Coopers conducted a study of a number of retailers, fast moving consumer goods companies, packaging producers, and government and trade bodies. They revisited this same group 2 years later to see how their view of sustainable packaging had changed. The study identified the most relevant drivers of change and advances in materials and technology appear to be the key drivers of change. They didn’t assess culture and style as one of the variables. Consumers love fashion trends and the eco-culture is gaining steam.
Sexy and Recyclable Packaging
What makes product packaging sexy? Is it the shape, functionality, texture, or colour? What is the essence of the appeal?
Well, sexy is in the eye of the beholder. In these examples below, you can see how designers are emphasizing, shapes, concepts, colours, and functionality that are very unique. They’re at another level yet they’re simple.
How do you feel about recycled materials? Are they up to snuff for product usage? Show us your innovative sustainable packaging.
Need ideas on creating the best point of purchase displays? Find out more about the trends in POP, cardboard manufacturing, and tips on how to be innovative in your POP campaigns. Is ready for retail packaging the next step for your company? What’s next for branding and package design?