In June of 2021, Genimex explored the rising popularity of sustainable packaging, products, and processes in an extensive article on our website. Since that time, the demand for sustainability has only increased among consumers in developed nations, many of whom are taking an activist approach to purchase. Recently, The Economist Intelligence Unit, the research and analysis division of the media company Economist Group, reported that there has been a 71 percent increase globally in online searches for sustainable goods over the last five years. Meanwhile, a survey by the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company revealed that 66 percent of participants consider sustainability when buying, and that percentage rises to 75 percent among millennials.
This trend, which seems to be more of a cultural shift than a fad, is even trickling down to developing nations. For example, sales of organic and sustainable products in India have increased by 13 percent since 2018. It’s no coincidence that as the economies of these countries improve, giving consumers more buying power, they choose products that align with their values. And consumers in the United States and Europe want to see better stewardship of the environment. Consumers seem to be most skeptical of products made and/or packaged using chemicals and plastics.
If consumers are weighing the environmental impact of a product in their buying decisions, companies must adapt or suffer the consequences. C-Suite occupants are paying attention. More than 50 percent admitted to researchers from EIU that consumer demand is driving them to adopt best practices for sustainability. They are looking to earn “certifications” that allow them to promote their brands as sustainably sourced.
A commitment to sustainability does raise certain costs. However, business leaders believe their sustainability agendas are worth the sacrifice even in the current operating environment.
So, given that the sustainability movement seems sustainable, what is the outlook for 2023? Here are a few trends to look for:
- Circularity — This concept looks at the lifecycle of a product from cradle to grave. Or perhaps from cradle to compost, or from cradle to the recycling center and back to the cradle. The idea is to imagine where the product goes after its useful life is over and design the product so that in its expired state, it does not burden the environment.
- Eliminating PFAS — These compounds are known as “forever chemicals,” because they do not break down over time and can leach out, contaminating soil and water. Unfortunately, PFAS chemicals are commonly used, for instance, to waterproof performance apparel. The industry will either find a cost-effective way of neutralizing PFAS or find beneficial alternatives. Some states in America have already started to ban the chemicals, and 3M, a major supplier for the industry, has vowed to discontinue PFAS by 2025.
- Thoughtful design — Incorporating an eco-friendly message into trademarks and logos is becoming a popular strategy for brands trying to court activist consumers.
- Packaging, packaging, packaging — Consumers have a greater tolerance for non-sustainable products, which they expect to hold onto for years, than they do for single-use plastics they will immediately dispose of. Biodegradable alternatives to Styrofoam are key. Glass containers that can be refilled on a subscription basis not only keep the environment clean, but they build brand loyalty. The days of ritual unboxing are not exactly over but must be transformed to highlight how many ways the brand is using naturally sourced materials in its packaging. If your brand goes fancy, they must do so in good conscience.
Finding the right sustainability solutions for your company can be tricky. Genimex works with suppliers who are at the forefront of this movement, so we can help you choose the best options for your brand and your customers.