Several interesting research studies about consumer attitudes toward sustainable products and green packaging have been conducted recently. The Grocery Manufacturers Association conducted a study with Deloitte on the topic, titled: "Finding the Green in Today's Shoppers: Sustainability Trends and New Shopper Insights."

Likewise, IRI issued its own report with its findings recently: "Sustainability: CPG Marketing in a Green World."
The gist: consumers have not pulled back from buying green, slow economy, decreased purchasing power, or not. That goes for products as well as packaging. Here's the thing, though, sustainable products and packaging are still not the primary purchase motivator among consumers. However, when analyzing competing products, consumers are more likely to purchase one that offers sustainability features over ones that do not.
While less than a quarter of consumers, roughly 22% consistently buy "green," fully 54% of shoppers are weighing sustainability issues according to the GMA-Deloitte findings, as reported in Environmental Leader.
The Hartman Group's recent "Sustainability Outlook: The Rise of Consumer Responsibility" points to consumer expectations where packaging is concerned, as well. An excellent Brandweek article summarized the firm's survey findings in a concise, informational manner.
What it all boils down to:

  • Consumers are increasingly aware of sustainability and willing to purchase green products/packaging even though they cost more and the economy is tough.

  • Consumers have increasing expectations that brands/companies will offer greener products and incorporate greener practices, in general. However, they are finding it hard to identify green products/packaging on the retail shelf in many cases.

  • Consumers are confused about claims made and unsure in many cases about whether or not greenwashing is taking place, making it incumbent on companies to be truthful, transparent and offer solid third party accreditation confirming sustainable practices, if/when appropriate.

  • Consumers need more education on sustainability issues and are turning to companies for more information on websites and packaging. They also need more point of sale information at the retail shelf.


  • Do you agree with the findings in these studies? Would you purchase one product over another if it was more sustainable than the other products on the shelf?

  • Do you think–given the economy at present–you'd pay more for a greener product or prefer to wait until finances improve?

  • Do you have problems identifying green product options on the retail shelf in some cases? What could manufacturers do to make it easier to find sustainable products in your opinion?

  • Which brands do you think do a good job educating consumers about green initiatives on their packaging, point-of-sale materials or web sites?

I'd love to hear from you.

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Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni