Is sustainability on the road to becoming a criterion of choice when purchasing luxury goods? For nearly one in four French consumers, a luxury product’s packaging should be environmentally friendly, according to Shopper Luxe*, a recent study published by French organization Citeo on consumer expectations in the area. A further sign of this emerging commitment: 79% of respondents say they would avoid buying from a brand if it does not address its ecological impact, showing that even in the luxury market, the green trend is taking root. “Luxury is a world apart in the consumer environment and we wanted to know the role that packaging plays in the content-container relationship,” explains Catherine Barucq, head of research and foresight at Citeo.
Among the definitions of a luxury product, those “designed with an environmental component” is a criterion for 24% of respondents, followed by packaging made with recycled materials for 19% and a product with “minimal” packaging for 12% of consumers.
The study revealed that consumer expectations when it comes to eco-design focus on three main topics: the recyclability of the product (53%), the materials used (42%) and its ingredients (23%). In the perfumes and cosmetics segment, a refillable product is paramount when it comes to eco-design. Indeed, within skincare, 52% of respondents would like to have the option to purchase refills while for 38% refillable lipstick and mascara would be a priority. This figure is even higher for fragrance consumers: 59% express the desire to buy a refillable fragrance.
Consumers appear to be listening to brands’ messaging on environmental issues with 84% of respondents disagreeing with the claim “when I buy a luxury product, I don’t want to hear about the environment”. This percentage climbs to 90% for consumers under 35.
From a purely aesthetic point of view—and not surprisingly—gilded and gold color schemes remain the most associated with luxury (34% of respondents), followed by black (20%), silver (18%) and white (12%).
In addition to market research, Citeo supports brands in their eco-design efforts in three main areas: packaging reduction (reuse, refill, lightweighting and removal of components); recyclability, by encouraging the use of mono-resins and recyclable resins (PET, PE, PP); and an assessment of the materials’ origins to encourage the use of recycled materials. The company also offers free tools on its website, including TREE, a packaging recyclability test.
*Citeo surveyed 500 consumers in France in retail areas including branded boutiques, perfumeries, department stores and wine and spirits merchants.