The survey, conducted by RetailX, is the most in-depth study to date, with 1,000 consumers each in France, Germany, Poland, Sweden and Turkey. For the first time it also includes an analysis of generational differences in online shopping patterns.
‘We want to be at the forefront of understanding what consumers want when they are shopping online, and what they expect from the packaging protecting their purchases,’ commented Nedim Nisic, e-commerce director at Mondi Group. ‘This research has revealed five macro trends shaping the growing e-commerce packaging market, providing useful insights as we partner with leading retailers to co-create the most sustainable packaging solutions for their needs.’
With three-quarters of customers in the five markets shopping online at least once a month and spending an average of 12 to 120 EUR a month, knowing why they choose to shop online is important, as is understanding the e-commerce features, they value the most. Fashion is the strongest product segment, followed by homeware, consumer electronics and beauty products. The survey confirms that across generations and countries, the top drivers for online shopping are lower prices and convenience, specifically saving time and direct delivery to homes.
Trend 1: protection of goods and environmental considerations continue to be two of the strongest customer requirements
Ninety four percent of consumers cite protection of goods as their most important factor, especially when it is a product of value. This is followed by ease of closing for returns, which has increased from 74 percent in 2019 to 88 percent this year.
‘As customers have seen the growing availability of easy-close packaging, so they have also realized how well it fits their needs, both in terms of the convenience of being able to easily reseal without hunting for the packing tape but also the sustainability aspect of reusing packaging,’ said Nisic. ‘Packaging being environmentally friendly (84 percent) and easy to dispose of (80 percent) were the next most important factors.’
Trend 2: overpackaging is costing more than expected
Oversized packaging annoys 86 percent of consumers, up from 79 percent in 2021, and excess internal packaging annoys 78 percent of customers. In fact, more than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents across the five countries said that overpackaging would put customers off buying from the brand.
‘Overpackaging is not sustainable or cost-effective. The research now also shows that it can influence buying decisions, with customers choosing not to support retailers that get it wrong,’ commented Nisic.
Trend 3: the unboxing moment matters
Packaging is not just about functionality; it is about the total experience. This survey found that awareness of ‘unboxing’ is rising in many markets. In Poland, for example, in 2019, 32 percent of consumers had heard of ‘unboxing’, compared to 66 percent this year. In 2021, 46 percent of those surveyed said that a unique unboxing experience inspired by standout product packaging due to packaging would convince them to order from the same retailer again. This year, that has risen to 78 percent.
‘The concept of unboxing is more than just a customer unwrapping their order,’ said Nisic. ‘It’s about using the opportunity to give customers a brand experience they will remember for all the right reasons.’
Trend 4: consumers are increasingly willing to pay a small premium for packaging that meets their needs
Consumers say they are increasingly willing to pay around 1 EUR extra for packaging that best suits their needs. Willingness to pay for best-fit packaging rose from 48 percent in Poland in 2021 to 81 percent this year and from 56 percent in 2021 in Germany to 70 percent in 2022. Overall, in the five markets, 72 percent of consumers are willing to pay for packaging, with Generation Z (80 percent) and Millennials (74 percent) being the most likely to agree.
Trend 5: the behavior and trends of Millennials are driving the market
These are customers who are shopping online with the greatest frequency and are the most likely to be buying online at least once a day (8 percent) and more than once a week (37 percent). They are also spending heavily across sectors. Their views are also some of the strongest, with Millennials the most likely to rate the various packaging characteristics as being crucial to them when compared to other generations. They are also the generation with the greatest willingness to pay extra for packaging that suits their needs.
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