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Change Is on the Horizon

On Aug. 1, Amazon will launch an expanded version of its Frustration Free Packaging program, which calls for all items larger than 45cm by 35cm by 8cm or weighing 9 kg or more to be certified as ready to ship. The new stricter requirements are spurring significant changes to retailers' packaging.

In a viral clip from the popular HBO show “The Newsroom,” Will McAvoy, the grizzled TV news anchor played by Jeff Daniels, tears into millennials, calling them the “Worst. Generation. Ever.” But a growing body of market research suggests that McAvoy had it all wrong. The kids, now young adults, turned out all right.

Millennials care about social impact and transparency, and favor organizations that share their values. Building a brand that stands for both presents an opportunity for companies to increase brand loyalty and build a positive corporate story to share with consumers.

Savvy companies already have gotten the hint, with so-called cause-sponsorship spending expected to total $2.23 billion in 2019, up 4.6 percent from 2018 and triple the figure from 2000. By either partnering directly with a nonprofit or charity, or contributing more broadly to a specific worthy cause, companies can greatly influence and enhance customer perceptions.


Companies Are Expected to Care

Research from Viacom’s Marketing and Partner Insights team shows that two out of three millennials feel obligated and excited to do their part, with social media making them more aware of what’s going on in other parts of the world and helping them to take action more easily.

Viacom’s research also shows that when compared with members of Gen X, millennials are 43 percent more likely to start a charitable fundraiser, 16 percent more likely to sign an online petition, and 8 percent more likely to repost or share an online fundraiser on social media. Further, a whopping 86 percent of millennials say a brand’s activism affects their likelihood of buying that brand’s products.

With younger Americans, there appears to be a penalty for corporate inaction. Nearly two-thirds of millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, prefer brands that have a point of view and stand for something, according to Kantar’s 2018 “Purpose 2020” report.

Moreover, 76 percent of young people say they have purchased or would consider purchasing a product because of a brand’s support for an issue, and 67 percent have stopped purchasing or would consider doing so if the company behaved in a way that betrayed their values, according to DoSomething Strategic’s 2018 Survey of Young People and Social Change.

“Whether retailers use Amazon or keep order fulfillment in house, there are many reasons to re-evaluate their packaging processes in light of the Frustration Free Packaging program.”

Making a Statement Through Packaging

Pregis makes it easy for retailers to show they care through its partnership with Uzima, a nonprofit that supplies water filters to communities around the world that lack clean water.

Since 2018, Pregis has donated a portion of sales revenue from its water-blue-colored AirSpeed HC Inspyre packaging to Uzima, with the goal of bringing clean water to 50,000 people. The durable hybrid cushioning comes in a wide variety of colors that can help connect a company’s commitment to any number of worthy causes, such as pink for breast cancer research or black for veteran organizations.

Retailers can also increase their social impact by reducing packaging waste with the use of poly bags, which eliminate the need for a large box for a small item. The poly bags can be branded to communicate a commitment to just about any cause. Poly bags can also be printed with a brand’s logo, color scheme and marketing messaging. And for brands like Warby Parker or TOMS, which donate one product to charity for every product sold, spreading the word about their cause and mission to give back can make customers feel good about their purchases.

Packaging materials can do a lot more than just protect shipments throughout the delivery process. They can signify what a brand stands for, driving customer lifetime value and making each purchase more meaningful to socially conscious consumers – including millennials, who are surely proving McAvoy wrong with each purchasing decision they make.


To learn more about Pregis’ partnership with Uzima and its efforts to provide clean drinking water to communities around the world, visit