Sonoco study: “Natural-looking” packaging drives consumer purchasing

Sonoco study: “Natural-looking” packaging drives consumer purchasing

15 Oct 2018 --- Consumers are more likely to buy organic, premium brands if the packaging is “natural-looking,” research by global diversified packaging supplier Sonoco has found. The study shows that packaging that offers a distinctive natural look – such as Sonoco's own EcoTect packaging board – enhances product attributes such as “organic” and “natural,” which in turn help brands stand out on the retail shelf.

According to the USDA, since it set formal standards for organic foods the market has taken off, posting growth of 10 percent or more each year for most years since 2000. Sonoco's focus group research revealed that 89 percent of consumers purchase organic or all-natural products at least once a month, and one in three buys these products at least once a week. This consumer preference is driving market growth and increased competition – making factors that affect purchase decisions, like packaging, increasingly important.

Click to Enlarge
Sonoco’s EcoTect packaging board used
for Pura Vida Organic Cereals

In addition to focus group research, Sonoco conducted a study at Clemson University’s CUshop that evaluated three product categories packaged using Sonoco’s natural-brown, 100 percent recycled fiber, EcoTect Uncoated Recycled Paperboard (URB). Eye-tracking data in a simulated grocery setting, as well as survey response data, were collected from 60 participants.

On average, the EcoTect-packaged products captured consumers’ visual attention faster, longer and more frequently than the control products. Participants purchased EcoTect packaged brands more often, showing that heightened visual attention correlated with which products ultimately ended up in shoppers’ carts.

EcoTect paperboard is made from 100 percent recycled fibers (85 percent post-consumer, 15 percent post-industrial) with a smooth surface for image fidelity and a brightness that makes images and colors pop.

Click to Enlarge
Sonoco’s EcoTect packaging for
Organic Grains Brown Rice Pilaf

During the recent FachPack show in Nuremberg, Germany, Sean Cairns, Vice President and General Manager Sonoco Consumer Products Europe, explained to PackagingInsights: “I think consumers have woken up to the impact they can have on the world as individuals and it’s driving companies like Sonoco to look at more innovative and sustainable solutions – that can’t be a bad thing.”

“Beyond sustainability, we are targeting ease-of-use and also a ‘natural look.’ The finish on the mymuesli packaging look like a ‘natural’ finish and we are really trying to emphasize the natural contents of the product inside.”

“But with 30 – 40 percent of food being thrown in the bin, we also need to do something to reduce food waste. So in our design, we are looking to find that compromise between barrier properties, shelf-life and sustainability,” he adds.

Brands can access the study at here or at Booth S-1509 at Pack Expo 2018 in Chicago, October 14-17. Sonoco will feature a variety of new and customer-tested innovations at the show, including its e-commerce packaging solutions (and Amazon APASS certification), expanding fresh food packaging portfolio, consumer-driven center-store innovations, and wide-ranging foodservice packaging solutions.

Read about Sonoco's "natural-looking" mymuesli cans here.

By Joshua Poole

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