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Strategy

New Opportunities in Refill Packaging.

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Refillable Packaging Design

The throw-away generation is quickly coming to an end. More and more consumers expect brands to package their products using sustainable materials to support a better environment. According to research, 37% of consumers are actively seeking out products packaged using environmentally friendly materials and are willing to pay 5% more to get them! 

Sustainability isn’t just a packaging design trend anymore; it’s an expectation. Of course, using environmentally sustainable packaging is a challenge for some brands. Beverage or cleaning supply manufacturers need plastic for packaging. Glass spray bottles would be quite cumbersome, and paper soda bottles would get sticky in no time. So, what can these companies do to adhere to the wishes of consumers? Here is some information on how brands are using refill packaging to boost sustainability.

What Is Refill Packaging?

Think about beverage companies. They’re notorious for using single-serve plastic bottles. Research shows that over 20,000 plastic bottles are sold every second worldwide. Of those millions and millions of plastic bottles, only 7% were ever recycled into new bottles. You don’t have to be a mathematician to see that this is bad.

Now, what if manufacturers could produce the same, wallet-happy plastic bottles but make them in a way that people don’t want to throw them away? Make them convenient enough that consumers will want to use them time and time again? This is refill packaging.

Refill packaging is the idea that instead of using a container once and throwing it away, you keep it around, refill it, and continue using it in the future. This idea is taking hold in major industries like beverages, cosmetics, perfumes, and cleaning products, and it’s drastically reducing the amount of plastic waste caused by traditional “throw-away” packaging. It offers some great marketing benefits as well.

The Benefits of Refill Packaging 

Of course, the main benefit of refill packaging is to reduce waste, but businesses need more than that to make it justifiable. They need hard numbers and proven facts. They need to know that it makes an impact on buyers.

Well, it just so happens that refill packaging offers a lot of benefits besides sustainability. It can help position your brand as environmentally-friendly, build long-term customer relationships, and reduce packaging costs. How’s that for justifiable?

Capitalize on the Sustainability Movement

As stated, 37% of consumers actively seek out environmentally friendly products. As time goes on, that number is sure to rise. For instance, 83% of Millennials try to be environmentally conscious, compared to 77% of older generations. 

By using refill packaging, you’re showing the world that your brand thinks about the environment. This helps you break into the sustainability consumer market share. Even if you still use plastic in your packaging designs, refill packaging can position your brand as a hero to the environment. 

Build Long-Term Consumer Relationships

What’s the best kind of customer? A repeat customer. 

When you make a product with refill packaging, you’re giving consumers incentive to come back and do business again. If a consumer buys your refillable product and runs out, she has to come back to get refills. And who is she going get refills from? You.

Not only does refillable packaging promote long-term customer relationships, but it can help you beat out the competition. If someone already has your refillable package, he’s not even going to pay attention to your competitors. He’s going straight for the refills that work with your system.

Reduce Packaging and Transportation Costs

Which is cheaper: producing a million single-use plastic bottles or 100,000 refillable bottles? Just think, if each consumer refills a package ten times, you can cut production costs exponentially. While it might cost a little more to design and produce higher quality refillable packaging, you won’t need to produce as many. This will give you some serious long-term cost savings.

For major producers that ship large quantities of products, refillable containers can significantly reduce shipping costs. Products like beverages, perfumes, and cleaning solutions are mostly water, which everyone has at home. If you turn your product into a concentrate (just add water!), you can eliminate the excess size and weight. 

Two cleaning supply companies, Blueland and Dazz, switched from single-use bottles to reusable bottles and dissolvable tablets. Without the need to ship so many water-filled bottles, they were able to cut transport costs by nearly 80%

Sustainability vs. Convenience

Just because refillable products are better for our environment doesn’t mean this will be enough to persuade consumers to buy. Your packaging needs to be as convenient as it is sustainable. If it’s a pain to refill your containers, nobody is going to buy them. Poor refillable package design can drive customers away more than if you just kept your single-use packaging.

Refillable packaging needs to be well thought out and well designed for convenience and ease of use. Drop a tablet into a reusable bottle and add water: perfect. Require six different products mixed together and a chemistry degree: no one will buy it. If you make your refill packaging too hard to use, you just ruined the brownie points you earned from sustainability. 

To reap the benefits of refill packaging, your design needs to be convenient to refill and durable enough to withstand long-term use. Otherwise, you’re just producing more expensive single-use packaging.

Focus on Sustainability with Refill Packaging

With the sustainability movement gaining momentum, it’s time for brands to rethink the way they package products. Refill packaging is an opportunity for brands to promote sustainability and establish themselves as friends of the environment. But just remember, if you want to reap benefits like long-term customer relationships and reduced shipping costs, you need to create a packaging design that’s convenient for consumers to use.

There are certainly opportunities for brands to ditch single-use packaging for something more sustainable. If done right, it could attract a larger, loyal consumer base.

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