Oct 11, 2021

New consumer research highlights packaging frustrations and delights

We take a closer look at a recently published white paper from Essentra Tapes that explores how attitudes to packaging and its functionality have changed over the past seven years.
Elisabeth Skoda

How attitudes to packaging and its functionality have changed over the past seven years, based on a detailed survey of 1,000 UK consumers, is the subject of a new White Paper from packaging tapes provider Essentra Tapes.

The full results, based on a detailed survey of 1,000 UK consumers, were first revealed at a recent webinar.

While the survey showed a 15% decrease in consumer packaging frustrations during this time, at 70% the figure remained high, with difficulty in opening packs still a major gripe among respondents. However, environmental concerns and the huge growth of e-commerce have had a significant influence on consumer opinions, and overpackaging is now seen as the number one frustration.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also had an impact, with the hygienic benefits of packaging becoming more important.

Age was still a key factor, and the research confirmed that ease of access continued to be a particular problem for the over 55s. Access was also the deciding factor behind consumers’ most and least favourite pack styles. The three most frustrating packs all lacked opening devices with the hard plastic clamshell retaining its top spot from 2013, while juice cartons with screw caps and cans with ring pulls were the number one and two most pleasing packs.

In addition, consumers highlighted the importance of sustainability within packaging and ranked recyclability as their number one issue. Packs that are easy to recycle are what consumers care about and providing simple, clear instructions and the necessary infrastructure to help with this is key. It also appears that consumers are starting to expect packs to be designed to be more sustainable, with only a third saying they would be prepared to pay more for sustainable packaging.

“Our latest research shows that the image of packaging among consumers has improved somewhat since 2013 but there is clearly still work to do,” commented Beresford. “In particular, it underlines the need for packaging manufacturers to continue to adapt their solutions in line with current market trends and consumer attitudes to sustainability, making it easier for them to make the right choice.

“It is also clear that the need to meet this wide variety of consumer needs means that packs often have to be multi-functional. For example, a tear tape for easy-opening can also provide a means of communication between a brand and its consumers; a resealable pack can combine user-convenience with product protection, portion control and the minimisation of food waste.

“Such additional benefits can help to reinforce positive perceptions about a product and support brand image and positioning.”

Key findings from the survey included:

• Too much packaging is now the number one frustration with 58 per cent of consumers highlighting this issue, an increase from 49 per cent in 2013.

• 57 per cent of those surveyed cited ‘Difficult to open’ as their top frustration and 48 per cent said that they had to use knives or other tools to get into packs. This compares to 61 per cent and 69 per cent in 2013.  

• 56 per cent of respondents said there was too much packaging in home delivered goods and 40 per cent highlighted the amount of waste this generates.

• Over 50% of consumers are very or extremely concerned about the hygiene of goods in supermarkets and takeaway food deliveries as a result of the pandemic.

• The top ten most frustrating and pleasing packs were:

Essentra Tapes says that it is continuing to promote ‘Packaging with Purpose’ that not only enables brand owners to satisfy the need for functionality but also delivers additional benefits that will help to strengthen a brand’s relationship with its consumers.

“Packaging is the key medium by which to communicate the brand, and our research shows that consumers respond positively to packs that serve a clear purpose,” concluded Beresford.

“When packaging works, it makes people feel good about the product; conversely, a poor pack can have a deeply negative effect on their perception of the brand, affecting re-purchase decisions.

“Packaging solutions that focus on opening, closing, informing and protecting can resolve many of the typical consumer pack frustrations and at the same time deliver added value and enhance brand image, to the extent of becoming an integral part of the brand experience.”

The Essentra white paper is available to download free at

Elisabeth Skoda

Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!
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