Global consumers demand better packaging

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Packaging2020Global consumers are guided by product packaging in their buying behavior, not least in India. We reject products in plastic packaging and feel guilty when we throw away plastic water bottles. We worry about the amount of packaging consumed by society, and when shopping online we might consider having goods delivered in simple standard packaging instead of the original packaging if it makes them cheaper. These are the results of an international study by Innventia, Packaging 2020, carried out in association with Kairos Future.

The report describes seven global forces and their impact on the packaging industry and the packaging of the future. The conclusions are based on a survey carried out among consumers in the US, India and Sweden. A clear majority of the 1,500 respondents see major problems with society’s consumption of packaging. There are particular concerns about the environmental impact of packaging in India, where 60 percent are prepared to go so far as to avoid purchasing a specific product if the packaging is seen to be environmentally unfriendly. The corresponding figure in Sweden is 20 percent. Plastic packaging is deemed to be the biggest environmental villain among Americans and Indians, while it is mainly aluminum packaging that Swedes shy away from.

There are demands for tougher quality controls and stricter environmental legislation, and a clear majority of consumers in all three countries would like to see somewhat stricter or much stricter environmental legislation.

Global consumers – particularly those in Sweden – are keen to see more innovative packaging. For example, three out of five (63 percent) would like to be able to scan goods to find out more about their origin and delivery, as well as detailed information about the content.

“A growing global middle class, an aging population, limited access to raw materials an intensified urbanization are a few of the megatrends posing challenges for the product and packaging industry,” says Fredrik Rosén, manager of the market and consumer insight group at Innventia. “We’re seeing purchasing decisions being guided by the packaging material itself, not just the appearance of the packaging. We’re also seeing a clear demand and a great need for smarter packaging. In the future, stricter demands will be placed on packaging materials that come into contact with foodstuffs. The growth in online shopping will bring both challenges and opportunities for the packaging industry.

“For example, will the brown cardboard boxes that products are usually shipped in today still be as brown and boring in the future, or will they become an important part of branding? When it comes to the packaging value chain, as the quest for high quality raw materials intensifies, recycling players will occupy a significantly stronger position. And it’s not unlikely that we’ll see structural collaboration, whereby recyclers become involved in other parts of the value chain.”

Highlights of findings

• 56 percent of consumers in India say that recycling is extremely important to them, compared to 32 percent in Sweden and 37 percent in the U.S.
• When shopping online, 94 percent of Swedes would consider paying less for goods delivered in simple standard packaging instead of the original packaging.
• 20 percent of Swedish consumers worry very often about packaging containing harmful substances. The corresponding figure in India is 43 percent.
• In India, 50 percent think that much stricter environmental legislation is needed.
In Sweden, 17 percent take the same view, while 43 percent think legislation should be somewhat stricter.
• 60 percent of consumers in India avoid purchasing goods if the packaging is perceived to be environmentally unfriendly. In Sweden, the figure is 20 percent.
• 8 percent of Swedes worry that food may have thawed out on its way to the shop.
The corresponding figure in India is 77 percent.
• 65 percent of Swedish consumers think that plastic is the least environmentally friendly material, compared with 47 percent for aluminum and 4 percent for paper (multiple answers were possible). In India, 30 percent think that paper is the least environmentally friendly material.
• 80 percent of Swedes think that requiring consumers to wear plastic gloves when handling fruit in a food shop is a bad idea, but 65 percent of consumers in India think this is a very good idea.
• 29 percent of Americans buy food online at least once a month. The corresponding figures are 35 percent in India and 5 percent in Sweden.
• 81 percent of Americans over the age of 55 say that the most irritating thing about packaging is difficulties opening it.
• 63 percent of Swedes say that they would be interested or extremely interested in being able to scan goods to find out more about their origin and delivery, and/or detailed information about the content.
• 44 percent of Swedish consumers have chosen one product over another in the last month, simply because it has been produced locally. The corresponding figure in the US is 32 percent
• 87 percent of Swedes taste milk before discarding it once it has passed its best before date.

The report can be ordered from

For more information, please contact Fredrik Rosén, manager of the market and consumer insight group at Innventia,, +46 (0)8 67 67 334.

About the survey
A quantitative survey was carried out in order to measure the attitudes, feelings and behaviors of the public in relation to the issues dealt with in the report. The survey was carried out in October 2012 using access panels with respondents in India, Sweden and the U.S. There were 500 respondents in each country, and the results were weighted to increase representativeness in terms of gender and age. Since the survey was carried out using internet panels, the Indian responses do not correspond to the population as a whole but rather to the Indian middle class, which was the intention of the survey.

Innventia AB is a world-leading R&D company within areas including pulp, paper,
graphic products, packaging and biorefinery. For more information, visit

Kairos Future is an international consulting and research company that helps businesses to understand and shape their futures. For more information, visit

Source: Innventia