Evidence is growing among market researchers there's a willingness for consumers to pay more for better packaging. In a recent survey among Lebanese consumers published by Emerald Insight, 73 percent of respondents said they were willing to pay more for higher-quality packaging. This survey reflected individuals from backgrounds in higher education and higher income.
Paying More for Premium Packaging
Other studies point to consumers being willing to pay more for eco-friendly packaging. Tetra Pak published a recent study of consumers from 13 countries on milk packaging. They found that 47 percent of consumers will pay as much as 5 percent more for more sustainable packaging. European studies in the past decade have reported similar findings, as consumers also relate healthy imagery on packaging with healthier food.
People who embrace environmental safety want to contribute to the solution of more sustainable packaging and are willing to pay more. More educated consumers tend to have a deeper knowledge of environmental issues and are always looking for ways to participate in going greener.
Consumer Awareness Levels of Perceived Value
Even though a significant number of consumers are willing to pay more for what they perceive is better packaging, consumers typically will not pay a premium price if they suspect the quality of the product is weak. They might base this conclusion on any number of scenarios from reading reviews to subconsciously disagreeing with the packaging design.
Just like in sports or music, a packaging designer must play for the crowd. It may be tempting to just look at consumer opinion statistics and formulate packaging ideas from there. But a designer must still inject actual values expressed with emotion into the design to be effective. Packaging design is just as much an artistic endeavor as a commercial undertaking. A consumer's emotional response is driven by identifying with familiar personal and cultural themes embedded in the package.
When it comes to food and beverages, consumers generally expect safe packaging. They perceive certain packaging materials as safer and more sustainable than others. Metals are typically perceived as strong packaging materials. While some metals have limitations, aluminum is resistant to rust and corrosion and is a top choice for packaging among various foods and beverages.
Innovating Toward Better Quality Packaging
Packaging designers can tap into consumer values on a more personal level by using higher-quality and more eco-friendly materials. New ideas for more sustainable packaging are emerging every year. Designers shouldn't worry about consumer trends as much as consumer values, which have more staying power and are part of a continuum.
While the concept of better packaging is different for every individual, you can make generalizations that a certain number of consumers support specific values. These values are what attract them to products and can be reflected in the packaging as well. The brand can win loyal support the more followers associate it with values they care about.
The reason aluminum and tinplate are often mentioned in sustainable packaging is that they both offer strong protection for keeping food safe, plus are durable and recyclable. Both are also easy to mold into any shape imaginable, which can influence the perception of innovative packaging.
Going more green is a more likely path to success compared with trying to play upon consumer perceptions. There must be a dimension of authenticity that connects the consumer with what the package communicates. In other words, creating an innovative new package designed to be perceived as better quality is more than a game of capitalizing on popular perceptions.
The idea of paying more for packaging quality is similar to someone paying more to see their favorite band rather than musicians they've never heard before. It's also like tipping a professional for good service. Purchasing products with recycled or recyclable packaging is an easy entry into sustainable solutions for consumers who genuinely want to go greener.
Brands have the opportunity to increase profits by offering consumers better-quality packaging in which they're willing to pay more. Sustainability is concept organizations are integrating into their business models for economic and environmental stability. The environment and healthiness have become heavily pronounced market values in recent years. Moving in the direction of more sustainable packaging cuts costs and waste while generating a more positive impact on the environment.
 Food packaging design and consumer perception of the product quality, safety, healthiness and preference (2020), by Christelle Bou-Mitri, Marilyn Abdessater, Hani Zgheib and Zeina Akiki