Full Article: Eco-Friendly Strengthens Your Brand

Check out our infographic for a quick summary of this research.

Packaging matters in the retail world. It’s the first impression of a product! And the big brands know this, which is why they spend billions of dollars on packaging.

But ecommerce businesses often overlook their packaging. They may think – “our customers have already ordered from us by the time they see our shipping packaging” or “our customers don’t care as long as their order arrives”. But the truth is that online shoppers do notice how you ship products to them. It influences their perception of your brand, their likelihood of ordering again, and whether (and what!) they tell their friends about you! Here are facts.


Do online customers care about packaging?

A Harris Poll found that about half of all consumers (48%) feel that packaging reflects the value of the shipment – the better the packaging, the better the product inside. Another survey, conducted by Dotcom Distribution, found that 52% of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases from an online merchant that delivers in "thoughtful packaging" and over 40% said it makes them more likely to share a product image or video on social media.

What do customers care about in shipping packages?

The top three things customers notice are (1) whether or not their items were delivered in good condition, (2) custom branding and design, and (3) how environmentally conscious the packaging is.

That’s right, "green" or "eco-friendly" packaging is a TOP THREE concern!

In a study commissioned by Pro Carton, an astounding 75% of customers emphasize their desire to receive products in eco-friendly packaging. DotCom Distribution found that green packaging is important to 57% of customers!

What does “green packaging” or “eco-friendly packaging” actually mean to your customers?

When asked what they mean by “environmentally friendly” packaging, customer answers vary. Recyclability and recycled content emerged as most important. Over 75% of Pro Carton survey respondents indicate that “environmentally friendly” means packaging that can be easily recycled and that it is made from recycled materials. Reusability and biodegradability followed suit, ranking as important to over 50% of those surveyed. 47% felt that over-packaging was a pet peeve given how harmful it is for the environment.

How does eco-friendly packaging and shipping affect my brand?

And, can it hurt my company to NOT use eco-friendly packaging?

Even if you’re skeptical that eco-packaging can strengthen your brand, evidence indicates that you should at least consider the negative impact of not using green packaging. 48% of all Dotcom Distribution respondents said they would consider switching brands if a product they received contains excessive or unsustainable packaging. And Forum for the Future, found that 90% of consumers would stop purchasing from a company if they learned about irresponsible practices.

Take note – this is not just lip service on a survey. We operate in an era when consumers are more likely than ever to vote with their dollars, seeing this as one of the most powerful and direct ways they can affect change. If you haven't already, you should check out: #GrabYourWallet, #VoteWithYourWallet or #WastefulPackaging? These are now prolific on social media. People actually call out brands that don’t meet their ethical or environment standards, encouraging their entire social community to avoid these brands.

Here are three examples (one is hilarious!) from angry customers and bloggers lamenting about shameful, wasteful, environmentally unsustainable packaging of products they ordered.

Okay, I get the message. But what does all of this REALLY mean for my business?

Should I use eco-friendly packaging?

We obviously don’t know your exact business. But, with the above information, we think it makes sense to at least evaluate the cost / benefit of earth friendly packaging for your business.

Here’s the quick 4 Question Quiz to help determine if green packaging could be good for your business.

1. Do you produce or sell:

  • High end or luxury items?
  • Items that intend to be durable, long lasting and/or uniquely high quality?
  • Health and wellness items?
  • Skin or hair care items?
  • Unique art?
  • Unique jewelry?
  • Quality apparel and/or gear?
  • Home goods

2. Are your customers:

  • Millennials?
  • Moms?
  • Outdoor enthusiasts?
  • Adventurers?
  • Naturalists?

3. Is your brand an important part of your company's growth and success?

4. Does your brand stand for ethical or environmental values?
Are you focused on building your strong social media strategy and presence?

Did you answer YES to any of the above questions? If so, going green in your packaging could:
a) lead to a measurable improvement in your brand, sales and revenue
b) provide some easy protection against negative publicity

Here’s a scenario to see how numbers might play out.

Baseline Scenario: Let’s say that with your current, conventional packaging, an average customer buys $50 worth of stuff. This week, you acquired 100 new customers. Of those customers:

  • 25% never order again
  • 50% order one more time
  • 25% order two more times

You just acquired $10,000 this week – right on!

Eco Friendly Packaging Scenario: Remember: 48% of customers may decide not to reorder from a company for using un-ecofriendly packaging and 52% of customers would be more likely to consider reordering from a company that uses eco-friendly packaging. So, let’s just cut those numbers WAAAY BACK, and say that only 5% (vs ~50%) actually take action. Then, with eco-friendly packaging, you find that:

  • 20% of your customers never order again
  • 45% order one more time
  • 35% order two more times
  • What’s more, your eco-friendly packaging has inspired three of these customers to post on social media, which generates five new referred customers.

In this scenario, you just acquired $11,288 this week!

That represents a 13% increase in sales due to eco-friendly packaging. And that 13% improvement happens every single week – just by continuing with the eco-friendly packaging!

Is that what will happen for your company? Let’s find out. It might be higher, it might be lower. It depends on countless factors of course. But the point is that the decision to explore eco-friendly packaging is, in large part, a branding and marketing decision. Moving to more thoughtful packaging, especially if your company is already rooted in ethics and sustainability, can strengthen your reputation and your brand. This drives more sales and real long term value.

How do you get started with Eco-Friendly packaging and shipping?

Eco-friendly packaging can be easy. And no, it does not necessarily cost more. Whether your products need to be shipped in boxes, poly mailers or “poly bags”, paper mailers, or something custom designed – EcoEnclose can guide you to the most effective eco-friendly shipping solutions. Whether you’re a startup, high growth or large company – we will work with you to evaluate your products and business and make recommendations.

Even with the right product, your customers STILL need to see and hear about your efforts. Your "Eco Story" must be integrated with your packaging and immediately recognizable if you want to drive a positive response with your customers. We try to make this easy by providing branding, language and materials that promote your sustainable packaging - in the shipments themselves, on your website, and on social media.

Here are some examples: Simply Natural Baby Store showcases their eco-friendly shipping commitment on their website, Hometalk describes their efforts on their shipping container box, the EcoEnclose logo immediately conveys a commitment to sustainability and the We Care Cards (free of charge!) tells customers that You Care.

Simply Natural Baby Store describes eco packaging on website.

Finally, if you want to take your brand to the highest level, when the time is right, you will want want to brand your packaging. Most eco-friendly materials can be branded just like traditional packaging supplies. EcoEnclose has worked to make this very easy by allowing you to check pricing and submit orders for custom packaging right through our website. Don't let the convenience cause doubts - the packaging still turns out beautifully, as you can see below.

As business owners ourselves we know that operating an ethical, responsible company is tough. But the thing we LOVE about eco-friendly packaging is that for many ecommerce companies, earth friendly packaging helps you grow your brand and sales, while simultaneously doing right by Mother Earth! Everyone wins!

Please reach out to us at; or call 888-445-6575. Together, we can strengthen your brand!

Want to start on your own? Check out our Guide to Finding the Right Eco-Friendly Shipping Solutions to learn what kinds of packaging may work best for the specific products you sell.


Dotcom Distribution |
Sealed Air, research conducted by Harris Poll | Packaging for E-Commerce Success
Forum for the Future |
Pro Carton |
Nielson |