Consumer survey shows online retailers need to focus on packaging sustainability and reduce overpacking

Dylan MacdonaldMacfarlane Group, Macfarlane Packaging

Almost a third of online shoppers want their purchases to be sent in more environmentally friendly packaging and they’re prepared to pay more for it – that’s the main finding of Macfarlane Packaging’s Annual Unboxing Survey, the results of which are published today. Asked for the first time about the green credentials of the packaging they received, 39% of internet shoppers classified it as “not environmentally friendly” and this was particularly evident among fashion shoppers where the figure was 54%. Overall, 29% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for greener packaging, with those buying Health and Beauty products leading the way at 33%. Macfarlane Packaging, who undertook the research, is the UK’s leading distributor of protective packaging to a broad range of sectors. Elsewhere, the Macfarlane Packaging Unboxing Survey revealed that retailers are using too much packaging.  23% of respondents reported too much packaging for their purchases, with Health and Beauty once again being the biggest culprit with 43% of shoppers reporting this.

Results at a glance:

  • 39% stated that the packaging was “not environmentally friendly”
  • 29% are willing to pay more for greener packaging
  • 23% of respondents reported inappropriately sized packaging eg: packaging too large or small for product
  • 23% of respondents reported there was too much packaging for their purchases eg: overpacking

Laurel Granville, Marketing Director of Macfarlane Packaging, said: “What we can see from the survey results is that the public’s conscience is resulting in a demand for greener packaging and while there are improvements in other areas there is still work to do.

Too much packaging remains a current focus and major challenge for retailers as they balance the need to ensure their product arrives undamaged while managing customer demands for more sustainable and appropriate packaging.

“With video blogging and consumer reviews on the increase, retailers are under pressure to ensure the unboxing experience lives the brand values in all ways. At Macfarlane, we can help retailers in their choice of packaging to ensure it cost effectively addresses the sustainability concerns of their customers.”

The Annual ‘Unboxing’ Survey looked at packaging performance across a wide range of online retailers with over 200 surveys completed.  The surveys covered goods in the Fashion, Health and Beauty, Home and Garden and Food & Drink sectors, with goods ranging from candles and perfume to a large furniture. This year, Macfarlane Packaging also asked shoppers about the environmentally friendly attributes of packaging and assessed consumer attitudes towards paying more for more sustainable packaging.

The survey was carried out across summer 2019 and was designed to provide retailers with valuable feedback from consumers. Full details of the survey returns can be found here:

Macfarlane Packaging’s Innovation Lab has a full library of un-boxing videos where retailers can address their packaging challenges and offer solutions –

Download the full press release here.