Canadian Packaging

Europeans and the packaging experience: their expectations

Exclusive findings of a major European survey commissioned by ALL4PACK Paris and conducted by ObSoCo.

July 20, 2016
by Canadian Packaging staff

PARIS—With four months to go before the opening of ALL4PACK Paris—the leading trade show for the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) zone in the packaging and intralogistics markets—the event organizers have published findings of an exclusive survey into the “packaging experience” of European consumers.

Conducted with the support of ObSoCo2 in four countries (Germany, Spain, France and Italy), this survey reveals in particular that expectations with regard to packaging, whether in terms of shape, the emotional impact it creates or the information it bears, vary according to the country examined.

Another finding is that a generation effect also appears to affect consumers’ attitudes to packaging, most notably as regards innovation and reducing the environmental footprint.

While there appears to be some form of consensus on some points examined, the survey highlights the influence of cultural traits in its results. A certain disparity can thus be observed between the French and Germans on the one hand, who seem to have a more functional approach to packaging, and the Italians and Spanish on the other, who are more sensitive to how packaging looks and acts on emotions.

Useful packaging for the French, eco-friendly for the Germans
The survey reveals that while the French are more skeptical about innovation and the packaging “experience”, greater numbers consider packaging to be a source of useful information, to help them buy the “right quantity”. The French have a chiefly “utilitarian” approach to packaging in which economic considerations are central.

  • 32 percent of the French see packaging mainly as “a source of useful information about products”.
  • 18 percent consider packaging as something that helps them “buy the right quantity”.

As for the Germans, a greater proportion of them say they prefer packaging which reduces environmental impact, whether as lightweight packaging to reduce the volume of waste or as packaging which can be given a second life. According to the data collected, German consumers appear to be more sensitive to the environmental impact of packaging, whether in its design or its recycling.

  • 33 percent of Germans say they prefer “lightweight packaging” which, when used in e-commerce, reduces the volume of waste.
  • 29 percent of Germans say that packaging should be “recyclable” or “reusable”.

“Aspirational” packaging for the Italians and Spaniards
Italian and Spanish consumers are considerably more sensitive than French and Germans to the “experiences” offered by some forms of packaging. Overall, they are more optimistic with regard to innovation and the development of connected and customized packaging which constitute a “genuine advance” for more than two thirds of them.

  • 75 percent of Spaniards and 66 percent of Italians consider connected packaging as “a genuine advance”.
  • On a scale of 0 to 10, the Spanish give 6.5 points to the “wow” effect of customized packaging, and the Italians give 5.1. The average mark for the “wow” effect across the entire sample is a mere 4.8.

A generation effect also appears to influence consumers’ attitudes to packaging, most notably as regards innovation and reducing the environmental footprint. Two generation categories point to specific expectations in this survey.

“Light and connected” for the 18-24 age range
In the four countries studied, the younger respondents are unsurprisingly the biggest fans of connected packaging which they consider as a source of progress for health, product safety and reduction in environmental impact This category of the population is a segment for which innovating in packaging is essential!

  • 71 percent of the 18-24 age range think that connected packaging constitutes a “genuine advance” (compared with 57 percent across the sample).
  • 36 percent of the 18-24 age range say that in e-commerce they prefer to see packaging that is “light so as to reduce volumes of packaging-related waste” (as against 28 percent across the sample).

“Robust and reusable” for the 55-70 age group
The older respondents in the sample are more interested in packaging which ensures that the product is well-protected, as more than two thirds of them cite this as the number one property. Furthermore, the 55-70 age range is more likely to prefer e-commerce packaging which can be reused or recycled. The ideal form of packaging for this generation appears to be sustainable, made from materials which provide robustness and protection of contents and which might be reused or recycled at the end of its life.

  • 37 percent of respondents aged 55-70 think that packaging is above all “a guarantee of product protection”.
  • 32 percent of the 55-70 age range say that in online shopping they prefer packaging “which can be reused or recycled”.

About The Survey
This survey, conducted by ObSoCo on behalf of ALL4PACK Paris, aimed to gain insight into the “packaging experience” of European consumers, in both its functional and emotional aspects. The survey was conducted in May 2016 on consumers in four key countries: Germany, Spain, France and Italy, reflecting European consumer trends. A sample of 2,186 people was queried evenly weighted across the four countries studied.

Five main attributes of packaging were examined:

  1. the development of connected and smart packaging,
  2. packaging in online shopping,
  3. information displayed on packaging,
  4. the “wow” effect associated with limited edition or customized packaging,
  5. the main properties of packaging.

Six main findings emerged:

  1. The majority of respondents approve of the development of connected and smart packaging;
  2. In the area of e-commerce, two seemingly contradictory expectations emerge, with robust packaging to protect products on the one hand, and lightweight packaging to reduce the volume of waste on the other;
  3. Also on the subject of e-commerce, more than half of the respondents rank the reduction in environmental footprint as the main criterion;
  4. With regard to information displayed on packaging, expectations converge around the manufacturing process;
  5. As regards limited edition or customized packaging, there is a strong divergence between the French and Germans on one side and the Italians and Spaniards on the other;
  6. With regard to the main function of packaging, consensus appears between the four countries regarding the guarantee of protection.

Read the comprehensive findings from the survey HERE

all4packparisALL4PACK Paris trade show takes place November 14-17,. 2016 at the Paris Nord Villepinte, France, Halls 5a, 6 and 7. It will feature 1,600 exhibitors and brands represented from the packaging, processing, printing and handling sectors, including 50 percent from outside France. The show expects a visitor attendance of 98,000 professionals, including 35 percent from abroad with about 100 countries represented.

The COMEXPOSIUM Group, who re putting on the ALLPACK Paris event, are a  world leader in event organization, involved in more than 170 consumer and trade events, covering 11 different sectors of activity such as food, agriculture, fashion, homeland security, construction, high-tech, optics and transport. COMEXPOSIUM hosts 45,000 exhibitors and more than three million visitors in 26 countries around the world. Comexposium is developing worldwide through its activities in around thirty countries: Algeria, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

For more information on ALLPACK Paris, visit

Category Captains 2019