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Excess packaging causes frustration for Scottish consumers

By Kirsty Brown

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The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has warned brands that they are risking reputational damage if they fail to adopt more sustainable packaging practices.

It follows a study commissioned by group which found consumers in Scotland are most likely to complain to their peers about excess packaging, with almost 90 percent stating that they think companies use too much packaging when delivering or selling in store.

The study, which gathered responses from 2,000 consumers across the UK, revealed that nationwide 88 percent think their shopping comes with more wrapping than is required, with children’s toys, mobile phones and cosmetics most likely to come in over-elaborate packaging.

And it’s not just e-commerce shops which are believed to over-do it, as a sixth believe in-store food shopping also uses more plastic than is required.

CIM Scotland chairman Joe Pacitti said: “Consumers are clear they want to do their bit to help tackle plastic pollution of the natural environment, so it should come as little surprise that sustainable packaging continues to be a growing concern for shoppers.

“The study clearly illustrates that consumers don’t want excess packaging and as the conversation about sustainability evolves, marketers must recognise that packaging is an issue which can make or break brands’ relationships with their customers.”

The study highlights that brands, big and small, must be prepared to face judgment from their customers on packaging alone.

Almost a third of people admitted they have been ‘put off’ ordering from the same company again due to the amount of paper or cardboard which came with it.

Overall, 36 percent of people judge a brand’s ethics based on their packaging and a sixth have complained to a company because of this; a further four in 10 said the amount of excess packaging used often puts them off shopping online.

Across the UK, more than a quarter of respondents would be willing to spend more on a product if they knew the boxes, paper and envelopes used were sustainable.

Those who make the conscious decision to be green are prepared to spend on average 20 percent more.

Worryingly an eighth of consumers admitted to throwing away the excess wrapping which gets sent to them, while 70 percent recycle it and a tenth even claim to reuse it to protect personal deliveries.

It also emerged half the nation believe sustainable materials are used more now compared to 10 years ago and almost three in five said brands are using more ethical alternatives.

A hopeful seven in 10 of those who were polled think there will be a time when companies no longer use additional wrapping for products.

While four out of five individuals take their own bags shopping to do their bit, 83 percent would like to see more plastic free and zero waste stores in their town.

Joe Pacitti added: “What we’re experiencing is a reputational tipping point for brands, where packaging and sustainability initiatives weigh heavy in the minds of the consumer.

“While it’s encouraging that the public broadly think brands are doing more now to tackle avoidable waste, the onus is on the marketing industry to take what consumers are telling us, and help organisations fully buy-in to sustainability led strategies.

“Furthermore, it is fantastic to see that organisations such as Zero Waste Scotland are supporting businesses in this endeavour to try to minimise the impact of plastics with support and advice.

"The technology steps and advancements from some disruptive companies such as CuanTec looking at alternative sustainable materials for packaging are also encouraging signs that we can use the growing market demand and voice of consumers to help grow new businesses here in Scotland.”

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