Consumers around the world overwhelmingly prefer foods and beverages in glass to other packaging materials, but new research commissioned by Owens-Illinois, Inc. (NYSE: OI) suggests consumers struggle to find their favorite brands packaged in glass on store shelves.
In a global research study conducted by Siegel+Gale, one of the world's premiere strategic branding companies, more than 2,900 consumers in nine countries were polled about their preferences regarding food and beverage packaging. Designed to gauge how consumers choose among the various packaging alternatives and weigh criteria for packaging, the study found the preference for glass packaging is strong: 93.5 percent for wine to 66 percent for non-alcoholic beverages.
"For the first time ever, we confirmed what we've theorized for some time - consumers recognize the advantages of glass and prefer it over other packaging materials," said Carol Gee, chief communications officer, O-I. "We were very pleased to discover what the data shows. If given a choice, consumers will choose a product in glass first versus a product in another type of packaging."
Consumers worldwide rate glass as superior to other packaging materials on five key factors: purity, safety, quality, versatility and recyclability.
"We found amazing consistencies, country by country, in how people make their product choices. Shoppers care not only about what is in the package but about the package itself," said Rolf Wulfsberg, Ph.D., global director of research, Siegel+Gale. "It appears consumers make their packaging choices based on safety, versatility and ability to preserve the contents of what's inside. Ultimately, glass packaging supports each of these preferences."
Although the data demonstrates consumers prefer glass, glass packaging may not always be available on store shelves. Results from the food category show that 91 percent of consumers indicate they prefer glass, but glass only holds about 10 percent of the market share for packaging in the food category.
"This strongly suggests that glass packaging is not as widely available on store shelves as consumers would like, either because their preferred brand does not use glass or their favorite store does not carry it in glass," Gee said. "We hope food and beverage producers pay attention to this new data and bring more glass packaging options back to consumers."
Additional data reflected preferences in individual food and beverage categories. The data shows 84 percent of respondents prefer glass as a container for beer, particularly in European countries. The demand for preserved foods packaged in glass is also strong. Approximately 91 percent of consumers surveyed prefer food packaged in glass, especially in Latin America (95 percent). Finally, glass is preferred by wine drinkers over any other packaging, by as much as 98 percent.
Siegel+Gale utilized advanced technology and statistical modeling, through its proprietary EyeOpener Brand Decision Analyzer, to conduct the research and analysis. EyeOpener clarifies buyer behavior by identifying how people make decisions, not just on how they perceive, or think about, a brand (packaging material).