The habits and preferences of Millennials have dominated news headlines and been a major focus for marketers. While Millennials recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living generation in the United States, it’s important to remember Boomers are not far behind in numbers and – perhaps more importantly - have the largest purchasing power of any generation. Not only is this aging demographic delaying retirement and living longer but Boomers are predicted to spend $15 trillion worldwide by the end of 2019. Retailers and manufacturers must ensure they are meeting the needs of the crucial Baby Boomer generation, especially when it comes to product packaging. Here are three key considerations:

Maintain the cost

According to recent research from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), Baby Boomers are the most cost-conscious generation. Sixty-three percent of Boomers surveyed indicated cost was the most important factor when purchasing sustainably sourced paper products / packaging, compared to 58% of Gen Xers and only 51% of Millennials. Furthermore, only 14% of Baby Boomers indicated they would be willing to pay more money for sustainable paper / packaging products. This underscores that sustainable packaging options must also be affordable.

Make it functional

In addition to cost, functionality is critical. Baby Boomers want product packaging to be convenient and easy to use. In fact, according to the APP study, 45% of Baby Boomers ranked functionality as the most important factor when making food or grocery purchasing decisions compared to only 34% of Millennials. It’s important for manufacturers to keep close tabs on the purchasing decisions of Boomers because packaging functionality preferences will likely change as this demographic continues to age.

Focus on environmental impact

Finally, the environmental footprint of packaging must be taken into consideration. Out of all generations surveyed, Baby Boomers (39%) are more likely to select a product based on its overall environmental impact. This demographic would also consider purchasing sustainable options for paper and packaging products if they had the ability to reuse or recycle the product (48%) and if the brand is known for offering sustainable options (30%).

In today’s day and age, having sustainably sourced packaging is no longer “a nice feature” to have, it’s a necessity to attracting and keeping consumers. Brands should explore the range of sustainable paper and packaging options available in the marketplace, including sustainable virgin fiber sourcing from rapidly renewable plantation trees. The availability of this type of product is especially important when it comes to food product packaging, which often doesn’t allow for strictly recycled options.

It’s more important than ever for retailers and manufacturers to appeal to one of the largest consumer segments – Baby Boomers – especially as their preferences continue to evolve.  Manufacturers already know the impact sustainability can have on a company’s value and bottom line. The challenge now is to focus on making that product’s packaging cost effective, functional and environmentally friendly to meet the wants and needs of Baby Boomers.