According to a recent study of TNS by Henkel (April 2012), sustainability is one of the most relevant criteria to determine the purchase of a product. This survey shows the increase of confidence towards a brand with social and eco-friendly responsibility. For 70% of Italians the first barrier of purchasing is still the higher price, comparing a green product with a traditional product but for 39% of them the problem is to understand which products are more environmentally friendly than others.
In short term, the issue is going to became crucial in the relationship between brand, product and consumer. The real competition between brands is played on the shelf. How? We’ve analyzed some markets cathegories to understand how the package becomes the way to apprise the decrease of the environmental footprint, as well as how green products are different from the standard ones, and which are the principal models of communication through the label.
Simply speaking the Carbon Footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases produced by industrial activity. The most important companies balance the production of CO2 in different ways and communicate it on the pack. A symbolic case is made by Tesco brand that personalises the back of products with an illlustrative label and the famous footprint icon.
At the same time San Benedetto water uses EcoGreen packs, marked by the colour green and a label on the back illustrating the chosen offset programme. From one hand Ecogreen symbolises the “green” inclination of San Benedetto and must be in line with their brand indentity, on the other hand it must be easily identified to avoid internal cannibalization.
It is proven that for many consumers is be difficult to recognize eco-friendly products from the standard ones. That is the reason wht for some brands it is necessary to preserve their identity and recognition also when going towards green. An example is the Plant Bottle label of Coca-Cola - a PET package made with a percentage of vegetable origin substances - that is not different from the standard Coca-Cola bottle; at first sight the bottles in RPET have the same characteristics of those in PET. The innovation of the material is communicated on the front and on the side of the label.
Another interesting sample is given by Panten, which uses colours to identify the bottle made with vegetable origin materials (60%) and differentiate them from the normal bottles, keeping the label’s layout unvaried. The outcome is a better characterisation but the difference it is still unperceivable.
When green is associated with a cool brand we often find ourselves in front of a rebranding case. The label mantains its icons but redefines the eco version to create a powerful message which grabs consumer’s attention. Innocent juice in RPET, entirely made with recycled plastic, has changed into an ironic way their own icon with the recycle symbol. On the shelf the differentiation is guaranteed!
If the goal is a surprise effect, the label will closely reflect the layout of the standard label even if what is cointained will be rewritten to communicate the eco-sustainability.
Heinz created a product made from RPET, the label maintains the iconic authenticity but transform the content. On the shelf this is unnoticeable, you will discover the trick at home, surprising all of them are convinced to have bought an “usual” kecthup bottle.
The environmental responsibility can be effectively communicated through the launch of a product-testimonial characterised by a different illustration. The label keeps the language of the brand but it totally changes for the launch of the product. Jack Daniel’s launched a product with the objective to partecipate to a reforestation programme with donation coming from sale.
Give Water is a brand involved in different charity projects, devolving 10% of the amount to charity. One of their projects includes it to the environment. The bottles, certified by OXO, are fully biodegradable and they promise to the consumers the total destruction in 10 years. The image of the product is in line with the brand but they choose the green code and the distinctive OXO’s logo.
According to this model the product preserves its own identity but just changes the color. A symbol of this strategy are the products that take part in (RED), the aid project fighting HIV in Africa: the products are exactly the same but red color.
In terms of sustainability, this is the model implemented by Sant'Anna with its BioBottle. This is produced with natural materials gained from the fermentation of plants' sugars. Both the bottle and label are identical to the ones of the brand's standard line but green in colour. This is done to make sure that the responsible consumer doesn't get confused!