home PACKAGING For Europeans, packaging can be Sexy and virtuous!

For Europeans, packaging can be Sexy and virtuous!

This is the first lesson to be drawn from a Europe-wide (France, Spain, Italy and Germany) survey, conducted by OpinionWay from 16 to 21 May 2012 for EMBALLAGE (Comexposium). Furthermore, packaging is considered as a “solved paradox” that can reconcile a number of opposites: sexy and virtuous, beautiful and useful, economical and pleasurable… to the consumer’s utmost satisfaction.

Can packaging now be qualified as “good” insofar as it combines all the performance criteria?
A symbol of our consumer society since it is omnipresent, both in supermarket facings and at home, and more so after use when it becomes waste, packaging is often criticised as wasting materials, wasting space and wasting product when the container does not empty properly. All these defects make us forget the essential advantages of today’s packaging: transporting goods safely, protecting them prior to consumption, providing the user with information in a transparent manner, and more.

In a very short time, packaging has become virtuous insofar as it is wholly recyclable: raw materials are cut down to the strict minimum and manufacturers use their best endeavours to make increasingly complex information available, to attract and win over customers, and to incorporate the new consumer codes and habits.

Packaging, the perfect reflection of our society, can no longer be locked up into a one-dimensional caricature.

How do today’s consumers view packaging? Are they still prone to the same idea, namely to consider only one aspect of the product, rather than two? The OpinionWay survey of four European countries (France, Spain, Italy, and Germany), carried out in May 2012 for EMBALLAGE (Comexposium), revolves around this issue.

Welcome to the “all in one” packaging world
The good news is that packaging can be both:

•    “Sexy and virtuous” for 65% of Europeans
•    “Economical and environmentally friendly” for 92%
•    “Economical and pleasurable” for 91%
•    “Beautiful and useful” for 65%

Ronan Chastellier, author of Tendançologie, sociologist and lecturer at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, has analysed the survey results for EMBALLAGE (Comexposium).

The main lessons drawn from the survey

Reconciling virtuous and sexy? Only the Germans are divided on this issue
“Virtuous and sexy”, potentially the most offensive ambivalence, goes down well with young people, who are probably more open when it comes to a totally new aspect of packaging. The combination of sexy and virtuous creates a sort of unexpected short circuit.

Three of the sample countries agree on “sexy”and“virtuous” but Germany makes a clear distinction between the two categories (43% against). Is this a reflection of German austerity? Conversely, in the other European countries interviewed, the principle of pleasure was universally felt to underlie packaging.

The principle of virtue: an idea shared in Europe
Europe agrees more closely on the principle of virtue than on the euro crisis… environmentally friendly, recyclable, reusable, etc. There are a few slight differences, though. Spain (home to the Baroque) cannot understand the relationship between virtuousness, simplicity and minimalism (11%) whereas this aspect of virtuousness is the most important for the Germans (37%). “Made in France” seems to be quintessentially French(18%) since the other countries do not attach much importance to this particular concept. Likewise, the notion of “ecological footprint” seems to be typically French and not European.

In spite of the crisis, environmental responsibility is still on the agenda!
At a time when the cost of “green products” is increasingly a topic of conversation and there are doubts about environmentally responsible consumption, Europeans are not eco-resistant and, if anything, particularly aware of their eco-responsibility. This environmental aspect of the product is, in their view, an appealing scenario that gives packaging a more symbolic meaning.

End of the ordinary days
The ordinary seems to have powerfully dominated packaging to date in order to promote concrete, useful features over all others. Then the ordinary gave way to the beautiful, opening up a host of new meanings for the consumer. This is the theory of aesthetic functionalism – that the beautiful is what suspends and disturbs everyday functions. Today, European consumers want a minimum of aesthetic expression in their daily lives!

To download the full country-by-country results:

1,300 exhibitors, 500 brands represented and 89,000 visitors expected.
A COMEXPOSIUM exhibition,
Held in conjunction with MANUTENTION

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