A recent report by global packaging major Amcor states that today’s shoppers are more aware than ever of the impact of their choices, and they expect to be empowered to make buying decisions that reflect their values. European pet owners are in line with consumers generally, in saying they are prepared to pay more for more sustainable choices. But consumers find sustainability information confusing, so brands have a role in helping to make sustainability claims clear.
Amcor’s report is based on a survey it did with more than 4,000 consumers across five European countries to discover their views on sustainability. Through a combination of in-person interviews and online surveys in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, and Sweden, the Amcor Market Insights team found that consumers are more aware than ever of the environmental impact of their choices, and they expect to be empowered to make buying decisions that reflect their values.
As part of this research, Amcor took a deep dive into pet owners’ views on sustainability claims on packaging and how this impacts their purchasing choices in the pet care category.
Sustainability matters to pet owners
According to the report, more than 95% of all respondents are concerned about the environment while more than two-third of pet owners across France, Germany, Italy, and the UK said climate change and plastic pollution matter most.
Interestingly, concern about carbon footprint, gathered only 10% of voters, showing that the link between climate change and carbon footprint is not always clear for consumers and that the wording matters, the Amcor report stated. Italy is the exception, where a ¼ of pet owners are concerned about carbon footprint.
The report further stated that consumers expect brands to take responsibility when it comes to sustainability. They believe recyclable packaging should be the industry standard. Clearly demonstrating the pack’s sustainability claims is crucial, while there’s opportunity to attract new customers with strong claims that really differentiate the brand.
Consumers expect more sustainable packaging
While consumers agree that more sustainable packaging is important to them, there are differences of opinion in which solution is right. Amcor’s research showed different views from consumers in different markets, and this could link to the information, promotion and practical access (such as recycling facilities) available to people in their home countries. However, recyclability and the use of recycled materials to create new packaging were popular choices for pet owners across all countries.
For example, 20% of consumers in France thought that packaging made with recyclable material was the least damaging to the environment, with 17% in Germany and 16% in the UK and Italy agreeing. While the majority of German consumers felt that plant-based packaging was the most sustainable approach.
Pet owners are willing to put sustainability above price
According to the report, 90% of pet owners say they are willing to pay more for a more sustainable packaging solution. And 50% say they are ready to pay as much as 33% more.
Food quality will always be a priority for pet owners, but the idea of reducing the environmental impact is starting to overtake price as the next priority factor for many, the report stated. Up to 75% of consumers say they are willing to switch brands to get more sustainable packaging. This provides petcare brands an opportunity to establish themselves as sustainability ambassadors, the report said.
Pet food shoppers need better information
One important piece of information that the report threw up was that consumers find packaging particularly confusing. The research found that people often don’t understand the various symbols found on packaging.
The report argues that this confusion could lead to consumers unintentionally making a less sustainable packaging choice. Pet food shoppers need guidance and education around packaging sustainability, at a category level. Pet food packs are complex due to inherent properties and performance, it said. Despite this confusion, 50% of respondents across each surveyed country do check sustainability logos to understand which products are better for the environment.
To achieve the more sustainable outcomes that consumers want, petcare brands should use clear and visible logos and messaging to help consumers understand the sustainability credentials of the different packaging choices on offer, the report said.
Sustainability credentials could make more impact by explicitly stating how the packaging helps reduce its effect on climate change and plastic pollution. Petcare brands can play a vital role in educating consumers about the most sustainable packaging solutions, and clear, simple labelling could help. Brands willing to take the lead on this will win favour with consumers, the report stated.