Looking into the packaging lifecycle

Published 9 February 2018
How does packaging fit the different ways and habits of everyday life, and which factors affect the choices we make while grocery shopping? We have got some insights through our consumer study. Turns out the packaging journey varies a lot depending on culture and geographical location.

Since the earliest stage in-store there are clear differences between consumers depending on where they live. In the UK, consumers pick packaging that looks appealing and delivers taste cues. Taste and price are top-of-mind factors while very few think of recycling and the ease of storage at this point.

To attract the Germans at the store shelf, the packaging needs to look untouched. Freshness is an important property, which is why German consumers tend to choose packaging with transparent windows to ensure an appetizing appearance of the product. Just like the UK consumers, they don’t really think of storability or recycling yet.

In China on the other hand, consumers think one step ahead: they want small packaging that is easy to carry home. When in need of bigger items, they prefer to order online with home delivery service.

In the shopping cart

There are also slight differences in how consumers place the packages in their shopping carts. They all separate their packaging in the cart but in different ways and for different reasons. The Germans think about stability and therefore place heavy packaging at the bottom followed by light packaging on top. In China, consumers want to separate dry, frozen and fresh food in the cart. They also think how to protect fragile products, which means they put them in the inner part of the cart. The UK consumers don’t seem to care that much about the trolley at all. They might simply sort their packaging by type of product.

Using it

When using the food products, the UK consumers prefer easy-to-use packaging and they want to avoid food waste. They believe the issue can be solved by using squishy, squeezable plastic as packaging material; however, this is now being challenged by the concern for the plastic ending up in the oceans, and we can expect consumers switching to other packaging materials such as paperboard instead.

In Germany, the consumers find it a hassle to pour from plastic bags in box. Moreover, they tend to think perforated tears are too often tearing in the wrong places. Resealability without hassle is key, which is why German consumers often create their own solutions with rubber bands or clips.

Consumers in China want to reseal packaging before they place it in the fridge. They also organize food in the same category and/or similar shape together.

When recycling

Even the last point of the packaging lifecycle seems to be somewhat different. In China, there is no government recycling program and therefore the knowledge regarding recycling is rather low but still the Chinese consumers tend to empty the trash and recycle it on a daily basis.

German consumers commonly follow recycling regulations and want to take concrete actions to protect the environment. For example, they do not wash out yoghurt cups as it burdens the environment by wasting water.

In the UK, recycling is a fairly new habit. The Brits prefer minimum amount of packaging to avoid waste and single material packaging for easy recycling.

Naturally, all the consumer insights need to be considered if you want your brand and packaging to be selected by consumers, at the first sight as well as next time.

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