Millennials are putting a higher priority on sustainability than any generation before them, and they will reward brands who offer food and beverages in packaging that is sustainable. That is the finding of the 11th annual EcoFocus Worldwide US Trends Survey that identifies the key steps brands can take to meet this generation's pressing concerns about sustainable food and beverage packaging.
Compared to other generations, millennials see the strongest connection between being eco-friendly, being healthy, and having a better quality of life. Being eco-friendly is a way to improve their quality of life according to 80% of millennials, nearly 10 percentage points higher than baby boomers. That kind of eco-attitude transfers directly to their shopping habits and expectations.
The EcoFocus Trends Survey shows a majority of US shoppers feel healthier foods and beverages should meet healthier and more sustainable packaging standards. For example, shoppers expect clean label products to use healthier packaging that offers an alternative to plastic and is packaged with renewable, or plant-based materials.
Social media-savvy millennials have a demonstrated ability to effect changes in business practices. The EcoFocus Trends Survey indicates that the millennials' focus on longer-term sustainable solutions will be a game-changer when it comes to packaging. Food and beverage brands have a unique opportunity to stand out to millennials by making it easier for them to buy their favorite foods and beverages in sustainable packaging.
The baby boomer generation feel positive about choosing products or services from companies whose packaging aligns with desirable practices such as recycling. The millennial generation looks beyond recycling and is calling for packaging that supports sustainable practices–particularly recyclable packaging made with renewable materials, or that is biodegradable, compostable or plant-based. For details, see the whitepaper.
They are also seeking more education and information from manufacturers and retailers. For example, nearly 75% of millennials want companies to do a better job of:
- Telling them how to recycle or dispose of a package
- Making recycling directions and information more prominent on packaging
The EcoFocus Trends Survey shows that more than eight out of ten shoppers agree that reducing waste and pollution is "Common Sense." But common sense and financial motivation don't always align. This time, for millennials, it appears they do!
A majority of shoppers, including millennials, say they are trying to save energy and water as a part of their everyday life. While millennials are on par with other consumers on these issues, what sets them apart in a dramatic way is that 64% of millennials say that "to them it is worth paying more for eco-friendly products,"compared to just 38% of baby boomers.
Millennials see value in doing business with companies that share their priorities and who are helping them to have choices that align with those priorities. Brands will be challenged to find sustainable and economically viable packaging choices that offer real value to consumers.
The millennial generation will change packaging because they are making sustainability a priority and want brands to offer sustainable choices.
Where will your brand stand in meeting the millennial's expectations?
Download the whitepaper, "2020 Food & Beverage Sustainable Packaging Trends" from Evergreen Packaging, to learn more.
Evergreen Packaging makes and supplies paper and paperboard products globally, including gable top cartons. Fiber used in Evergreen Packaging products comes from forests in the US where responsible forestry practices are used and where overall growth exceeds harvest. Evergreen Packaging cartons contain protective layers of plastic (including cap and spout). The data presented here is not intended to suggest that Evergreen Packaging products have all attributes discussed in this piece. This publication presents data on consumer perceptions because consumer perceptions matter when shoppers choose which products to purchase.
The EcoFocus Trends Survey is an annual tracking study conducted since 2010, examining wellness and sustainability trends impacting the food and beverage industry. The study is conducted online annually among 4,000 adults. The data is nationally projectable to the US adult population ages 18 to 65 years with a margin of error of +/- 1.55 points in 2019.