Release: Consumers believe companies use too much packaging

16.12.2020

PRESS RELEASE

Consumer backlash against unsustainable packaging despite industry efforts to improve

  • Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) warns growth in e-commerce behind customer concern about packaging
  • 85% of consumers believe companies use too much packaging
  • Half of people say Amazon worst excess packaging offender
  • Sustainability initiatives embracing innovation

The vast majority of British consumers still think companies use too much packaging despite industry evidence showing a slight reduction in materials used to deliver products.

New research of 2,000 adults across the UK commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), found that 85 per cent of consumers still believe companies use too much packaging, slightly down from research commissioned 12 months ago when the figure stood at 88 per cent.

Amazon has come ranked as the worst offender for excess packaging, with 52 per cent of those polled choosing the online giant. This compares unfavourably with the research from 2019, when 47 per cent identified the online retailing giant.

On the other hand, supermarket chain Tesco saw a drop in the proportion of people identifying it as having the least sustainable approach to packaging, down from 14 per cent to 11 per cent.

CIM’s Director of Marketing, Gemma Butler commented: “We wanted to see how things had changed in the last year, in terms of excess packaging. While it’s positive to see a slight drop in how many people believe companies are over-packaging their goods, there are a lot of caveats.

“We know the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have changed buying behaviours, and there has been a considerable increase in online purchasing which means more home deliveries. So even where companies have improved their packaging, the increased volume and frequency of purchases will naturally push up the amount of packaging in circulation.

“However, with over a third of people saying they judge companies based on the ethics of their packaging, there are still serious implications for brands not living up to consumer expectations, and marketers must take note.”

In 2019, eight in 10 adults (80 per cent) said they would like to see more done by large companies to promote sustainable packaging. However, in 2020 that figure has dropped as low as 62 per cent, as people’s priorities have shifted according to the OnePoll research.

The survey commissioned this year also found a quarter say that as long as their product is protected by the packaging, they don't mind if there's excess packaging. But on the other hand, 35 per cent admit they ‘judge’ companies based on the ethics of their packaging.

Three in 10 of those surveyed say they’re willing to spend more on a product if it comes in more sustainable packaging. And on average, they’d pay 18 per cent more if they knew what they were buying resulted in a more positive on the environment.

Brands, particularly in the retail, beauty and food sector, are leading the charge when it comes to innovative solutions around excess packaging. Three examples of sustainable initiatives recently introduced in this space are:

  • Primark introduced brown paper bags that can be turned into wrapping paper.
  • Co-Op announced that 35 of its stores will be fitted out with eco-refill stations for products such as sanitisers.
  • Adidas partnered with Parley Ocean Plastic to create sustainably made sportswear and committed to use 100% recycled polyester in their products by 2024.

Gemma Butler added: “It’s interesting to see how attitudes towards recyclable packing materials have changed in the last year.

“For many, there is definitely the recognition in the need for companies to make a difference, but this continues to be offset against the convenience factor that consumers have become so used to. It is clear that there are huge opportunities for brands that can offer innovative ways to help customers reduce, reuse and recycle their plastic and excess packaging consumption.

“As ever, the responsibility should lie not entirely with the consumer, companies need to continue to take the lead in developing sustainable solutions and work closely with their marketing teams in communicating these initiatives both informing and educating consumers and driving more responsible behaviours across all parts of the stakeholder chain."

The study of 4,000 adults (2,000 in 2019 and 2,000 in 2020) found:

Worst offenders in the eyes of consumers for using excess packaging in 2019:

  1. Amazon- 47%
  2. EBay- 15%
  3. Tesco- 14%
  4. Sainsburys- 13%
  5. Asda- 11%
  6. ASOS- 9%
  7. Boohoo - 8%
  8. Pretty Little Thing- 8%
  9. Ocado- 7%
  10. Etsy sellers- 7%
  11. Misguided- 6%

Worst offenders in the eyes of consumers for using excess packaging in 2020:

  1. Amazon- 52%
  2. eBay- 14%
  3. Tesco- 11%
  4. Sainsburys- 10%
  5. ASOS - 10%
  6. Asda- 10%
  7. Pretty Little Thing- 8%
  8. Boohoo - 7%
  9. Etsy sellers - 7%
  10. Missguided- 6%
  11. Ocado- 6%

ENDS

 

Notes to editors:

For further information please contact the Chartered Institute of Marketing press office at Good Relations on CIMTeam@goodrelations.co.uk

About the survey

Onepoll carried out the nationally representative survey of 2,000 adults during 28 November and 1 December 2020.

About CIM

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is the world’s leading professional body for marketing, with over 28,000 members worldwide, of which there are over 2,500 Chartered Marketers. CIM’s mission is to create a marketing advantage for the benefit of professionals, business and society with a focus on export, data and skills. CIM believes marketing is the critical factor in driving long term organisational performance.

CIM provides members and organisations with five key benefits: 

  • Partnership – CIM is a professional and organisational partner to support performance and career development
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For more than 100 years, CIM has supported, represented and developed marketers, teams, leaders and the profession as a whole. There are 120 CIM study centres in 32 countries and exam centres in 132 countries worldwide. In the last year, over 7,500 people registered at over 230 UK CIM events. Find out more about CIM by visiting www.cim.co.uk.

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