Checking the green box

Brands are weighing the business value of sustainable products and packaging. Here’s what consumers think.

Previously, in “How many deliveries are too many?” we found that just over half of consumers were frustrated about the number of packages piling up on their doorsteps. But when we asked why, sustainability concerns weren’t top-of-mind. Only about 1 in 4 adults told us they felt the high number of package deliveries was wasteful and environmentally unfriendly.

To ring in Earth Day this year, we decided to revisit the topic of sustainability & ecommerce logistics. Here’s what consumers told us:

  • More than 1 in 3 consumers (38%) are sustainability shoppers – those who actively look for (10%) or are more inclined to buy (28%) products based on environmentally-friendly features such as sustainable materials, sustainable packaging, or a portion of proceeds going to environmental causes.
  • Other demographics of sustainability shoppers:
    • Nearly half (47-48%) of younger, more affluent consumers, as well as parents and urbanites
    • More men (41%) than women (35%)
    • Those living in the West (43%) more than other US regions (Northeast, 38%; Midwest, 36%; South, 35%)
    • More than half (56%) of those who identify as politically liberal compared to more than a third (35%) of moderates and more than a quarter (29%) of conservatives 
  • That said, for the majority (59%) of consumers, sustainability is not a factor in purchasing decisions
    • 17% say they don’t notice sustainability features 
    • 41% say sustainability has no impact on their shopping behavior

50 shades of green

We also asked consumers what kinds of sustainability features had the greatest impact:

  • Environmentally-friendly manufacturing and use of sustainable materials both drive the greatest impact for online conversions—influencing purchase behavior for nearly half of consumers (42% for each feature).
  • Carbon offset programs (29%) and low-carbon-output delivery (e.g., electric vehicles used for delivery—32%) are notably less impactful than the features above, which consumers can more directly observe and verify. 
Sustainable features driving purchase behavior

How much green is green worth? 

One of our favorite (and most requested!) types of survey questions are Price Is Right-style hypothetical scenarios, where we ask consumers how much they think an ecommerce product or logistics feature is worth. (Exhibit A: the Value of Unboxing.) 

This time, we asked consumers to imagine being presented with 2 boxes, each containing the same product (a pair of shoes). One was shipped using sustainable packaging and the other one with ‘traditional’ packaging.

  • 67% of consumers said sustainable packaging costs more; about 1 in 4 (28%) thought they cost the same.  
  • On average, consumers believe that sustainable packaging is worth $5.70 more than ‘traditional’ packaging—so not premium, but a nominally greater value.



Recent advances in sustainable packaging have opened the door to more economical materials and renewable processes. Combined with consumers’ perceived value of sustainable products and packaging, along with a higher propensity to convert—brands are starting to have something to cheer about this Earth Day.

BOXpoll™ by Pitney Bowes, a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture,and ecommerce logistics. Conducted by Pitney Bowes with Morning Consult //2094 US consumers surveyed March 2021.© Copyright Pitney Bowes Inc.

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