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Younger Generations Prefer Sustainable Labeling

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Go to your favorite supermarket and take a look at what is printed on the packaging, especially the labels. Look specifically for sustainability and recycling information. Chances are you’ll find it on many different kinds of products, because it’s just one part of an overarching marketplace shift in consumer attitudes that points to an emerging preference for sustainable products made more from natural products and fiber instead of difficult to re-use plastics. As North Americans increasingly factor sustainability into their purchases, it’s crucial for brands to offer label and packaging choices that match consumer demands. And there are data to back that up.

According to a recent U.S. study by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Jakarta, Indonesia, American consumers want to see sustainability information on product labels across a host of industries.

While the aggregate demand is relatively high, it becomes more interesting when examined on a generational basis. Why is that important? Because according to the Pew Research Center, baby boomers, which currently account for some 74.9 million U.S. consumers, are about to be surpassed by 75.3 million millennials, who are currently 18 to 34 years old. And those millennials can be particularly attuned to environmental issues. By comparison, the Gen X crowd, which spans 35 to 54 years old in 2015, won’t outnumber boomers until 2028.

Clearly, millennials are the demographic group brand owners need to be thinking about with regards to sustainability and recyclability. According to the APP study, 67% of millennials say they would like to have sustainability/environmental-related information on product labels, compared with 54% of Gen Xers and 60% of baby boomers.

Yet interestingly, only 34% of millennials regularly check for sustainability/environmental information on labels when making purchasing decisions, compared with 25% of Gen Xers and 20% of baby boomers.

Some 64% of millennials said brands that include environmental-related information on labels influence their perceptions of a company, compared with about half of Gen Xers (51%) and baby boomers (54%).

About 59% of millennials are more likely to recommend a brand or product if it includes sustainability/environmental-related information, versus 46% of Gen Xers and 48% of baby boomers.

Altogether, 56% of millennials say including sustainability information on product labeling can influence whether they purchase a product, compared with 42% of Gen Xers and 47% of baby boomers.

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