Small yet significant: labels are critical to dialogue

Avery Dennison’s Director of Marketing Strategy and Sustainability, LPM EMENA Alena Maran believes that labels, small though they may be, are a key strategic tool to drive consumer conversations and deliver on brand sustainability goals.

Labels are critical to creating a dialogue between the brand owners and their consumers: from the identity of the brand, the values of the company, the ingredients and user instructions for the product, to the sustainable means of disposing the packaging through the appropriate channels. They may be small but in the battle for an ever-discerning market share, they’re central to enabling crucial communication and giving a clear brand advantage.

In the ever-competitive home and personal care industry, how we communicate with consumers has evolved. Yes, shower gel still needs to get you clean but it also needs to make a statement - be it about lifestyle, the environment or how we translate outward appearance through the lens of social issues. All of this is conveyed through an effective labeling strategy. Yes, I just said labels and strategy in the same sentence. Labels are your brand identity, your marketing tool and your shelf appeal all at once so if you don’t have a strategy attached to them, it’s time to consider one. 


 From incentivizing desired behaviors - such as recycling - and motivating continued purchases, to tracking the package from cradle to grave, we can use digitally-enabled labels to build on the consumer experience while simultaneously increasing market share and supporting crucial sustainability goals. Imagine a future scenario whereby a combination of the physical and digital label can give a consumer a full history of the company, of the product, or of the preferred recycling options - and that’s on every shower gel bottle. 

At the same time, they also need to endure the product’s lifespan, often in challenging environments such as the shower, under the sink, next to other corrosive or degenerative household solutions. It’s why there’s not a one-size-fits all solution. We don’t have, for example, a ‘most sustainable option’. A label that enables sustainability on one package, could hinder it on another.


Crucially, the burden of the enormous packaging footprint shouldn’t all be on the consumer. They play a role in the process but without clear instructions, there’s a risk that incorrect disposal of packaging can contaminate batches of otherwise recyclable waste. According to a recent Guardian article, “It’s rare to see step-by-step recycling instructions printed on the side of a jar [...] with 48% of consumers agreeing with the statement: 'Knowing what I can and can’t recycle at home is confusing.'"

In a social environment where the appetite to do good is growing, the onus is on industry to support the end-user, not the other way around. With the right strategy, the small - yet undeniably significant - label will provide a gateway to the consumer that can deliver an evolved and value-led conversation, giving the consumer the information they need, the brand the dialogue they seek, and supporting the myriad of goals set, be they financial, practical, or for the benefit of the planet.

Learn more about sustainable labels

Discover our "Small. Yet Significant." guide to navigating sustainable labeling for HPC brands to learn how you can incorporate material choices, EcoDesign best practices and innovation into your packaging decisions.


For further information on how you can adopt a holistic approach to EcoDesign, download our “Small. Yet Significant.” guide to navigating sustainable labeling for your home and personal care brands.