Consumers today are weighing different factors in their purchasing decisions. In order to attract and retain loyal customers, brands must understand what those factors are and meet demand accordingly. In order to attract a more modern audience in such a saturated retail landscape, it’s become paramount to improve offerings that bolster product quality and competitive pricing. Two factors that heavily influence whether a consumer shops with a brand are 1) a demonstrated commitment to sustainability, and 2) customer reviews.

Making smart, thoughtful choices about shipping packaging allows retailers and brands to cater to their customers’ preferences on both fronts, earning more repeat business while potentially expanding brand reach to attract first-time customers.

Consumers Demand Eco-Friendly

As people become more environmentally conscious, the desire to minimize their negative impact on the planet is growing. When an opportunity to do so dovetails with an activity they’re already performing — such as shopping — it’s a no-brainer. As such, conscious consumers are more likely to patronize likeminded merchants that can help them meet this goal. This is evidenced by the 77% of consumers who say it’s at least moderately important that brands are sustainable and environmentally responsible, and the 57% who are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce negative environmental impact. Additionally, of consumers who agree these traits are important, more than seven in 10 are willing to pay a premium for brands who demonstrate this commitment.

One area where businesses can demonstrate this consciousness is with shipping packaging. Utilizing recyclable components to secure products for transit can help companies appeal to these purpose-driven consumers. Dotcom Distribution’s 2019 eCommerce Survey supports this, finding that 62% of all online shoppers — and, more specifically, 72% of consumers 18-29 — are more likely to purchase from brands that use sustainable packaging materials. Further proving this point, 2020 data released by Paper and Packaging Board reveals that consumers think more highly of companies that package their products in paper-based packaging.

Shoppers Trust Customer Reviews

As the sea of shopping destinations grows, shoppers have developed more refined ways of gathering information in an effort to make more-informed choices. In today’s age of sharing and transparency, seeking out the opinions and experiences of past customers through online product reviews is standard procedure before making a purchase decision. In fact, 79% of 18-to-34-year-old millennials do so, and 94% of online shoppers avoid businesses upon seeing negative reviews. So, it stands to reason that ensuring customers have a positive brand experience — one worth sharing — is extremely valuable.

Optimizing shipping packaging by creating a memorable unboxing experience is an effective way to establish a positive connection, particularly with e-commerce orders, where opening a package is often a customer’s first physical interaction with a brand. According to an e-commerce packaging study from Package InSight, in conjunction with Seaman Paper Company, 76% of consumers would be more likely to recommend a brand that wraps its package contents in tissue paper instead of other materials. Two out of three participants were more likely to share pictures of tissue-clad packages on social media. This is particularly true among younger generations, with more than half of both Gen Z and Millennial consumers reportedly looking to social media influencers for product advice. The takeaway is that the more aesthetically pleasing a package is, inside and out, the more encouraged customers are to share it.

Cyle Howe is the Art Director at Seaman Paper, the leading global supplier of lightweight decorative tissue papers for retail packaging, consumer products and the foodservice industry. With a philosophy that emphasizes the marriage of form and function, he believes in prioritizing design thinking to foster innovative, creative solutions.

This article originally appeared in the March/April, 2020 issue of PARCEL.