Consumers are increasingly satisfied with their overall experience with packaging, which has increased by 46 percent over six years, according to the 2018 Packaging Matters study from WestRock (westrock.com), a leading provider of differentiated paper and packaging solutions. Findings from the study indicate brands are keeping up with — and responding to — consumer preferences.
Conducted online by researchers at Reputation Leaders among 5,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, the study identifies three key components of packaging that matter to them and impact shopping decisions: functionality, trust and aesthetics.
WestRock’s Packaging Matters study reveals 84 percent of consumers indicate a top driver of packaging satisfaction is the package’s ability to ensure the integrity of the product, with 77 percent reporting that packaging that promotes easy emptying of the contents is also important.
A primary component of functionality, consumers indicate that packaging must keep products safe. In fact, 75 percent of consumers say that a key component of their purchasing decision is whether the packaging is made from materials that prevent the product from leaking or breaking. In addition, consumers indicate secure delivery is essential to satisfaction, with 75 percent of consumers indicating delivery features (for example, being securely closed) are important. More women (74 percent) than men (68 percent) value packaging with features that help keep them and their family safe.
While safety is a non-negotiable factor of best-in-class packaging, convenience is also critical to ensuring positive experiences:
- 76 percent of all respondents report they want packaging that is easy to open; among these, 80 percent of women and 71 percent of men value packaging that is easy to open.
- Resealability is also an important factor in satisfaction, according to 76 percent of respondents.
- 20 percent more millennials than other generations value packaging that is easy to find on a shelf.
- Packaging that is easy to store at home matters more to millennials (80 percent) than other generations (69 percent).
Although functionality determines how consumers interact with packaging, trust is a major factor in how those interactions translate into positive brand and product perceptions. According to the Packaging Matters study, consumers are more likely to trust products if the packaging protects against tampering or contamination (79 percent), are made with safe materials (71 percent) and clearly and honestly indicates the contents’ ingredients and potential dangers. Consumers trust packaging for medicine and non-alcoholic beverages the most (73 percent) and online food service delivery packaging the least (59 percent).
Although the Packaging Matters study reveals that packaging satisfaction is most closely tied to benefits that connect back to consumer values — functionality and trust — purchasing behavior is influenced primarily by packaging’s appearance. Since the first Packaging Matters study, the percentage of consumers who purchased a product because of the innovative nature of the packaging increased by 45 percent, and consumers who compared different products’ packaging to make a purchase decision increased by 43 percent.
In fact, the study revealed aesthetics are the primary driver impacting a consumer’s decision to try something new, buy something again or switch brands. Findings include:
- 81 percent of consumers said they have tried something new because the packaging caught their eye.
- A packaging’s appearance or aesthetics compelled 63 percent of consumers to purchase a product again.
- 52 percent have changed brands from a product they have purchased in the past because of new packaging.
Understanding what motivates today’s shopper to complete a purchase is critically important. As brand marketers and retailers weigh where to invest money and time, the Packaging Matters study reveals that packaging features including functionality, safety and aesthetic appeal have significant implications for consumer perception and behavior. Modern consumer shopping preferences and the changing role of the retail store are actively transforming interactions with packaging and creating new opportunities and challenges that require increasingly agile packaging strategies that capitalize on these core components.