Jacqui Vear

Posted on 18th August 2023
by Jacqui Vear

What do your contacts think of paper?

This is an important question when you’re considering how you communicate with your contacts and package your products. People get passionate about paper, in the context of sustainability and their preferred format for receiving information and deliveries! When your approach to using paper is aligned to the preferences of your target audience, you’ve got the potential to improve engagement in your messages and advocacy of your brand.

There’s historically been some myths to bust in respect of paper and print, principally the misconception that the industry is causing deforestation. In fact, worldwide its agriculture that is the leading cause of deforestation, primarily in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. (1) The European forests that supply wood for paper making are, in contrast, increasing in net area at a rate equivalent to 1,500 football pitches every day. (2)

Paper perceptions in 2023

We’ve got new insights from the 2023 Trend Tracker Survey, commissioned by the not-for-profit organisation, Two Sides Europe. So, what other insights can inform the many and varied paper purchases that you make for your organisation? We’ve got the headlines ready for you:

1) 67% of European consumers agree that it is important to use paper products from sustainably managed forests

Action: When you’re investing in a paper product you should be seeking assurances that you are making a responsible purchase. FSC® certification is key. Endorsement by the Forest Stewardship Council ensures that the raw material of wood fibre is sourced from forests where land is responsibly managed, natural habitats of plants and animals are conserved, and the rights of forestry workers and local communities are respected. These assurances should be passed onto your contacts, who will value the effort that you have gone to. We can support the generation of messages that you can use, either directly on paper products or in other communications that reflect on the sustainability of your purchasing decisions. Use our expertise to ensure you communicate clearly and accurately, green-washing, that is ‘attempting to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is’, needs to be avoided at all costs!

2) 37% pay attention to forestry certification labels when purchasing paper-based products

Action: A picture paints a thousand words! There are several logos that can reflect sustainable paper and print products. Love Paper® branding is one example, and its being used by a growing list of leading brands. We’re eligible to help you use this logo within your artwork, when we certify that your paper project meets certain sustainability criteria. We’ve got more information about Love Paper® on this link.

An example of Love Paper branding in use on printed literature

3) 67% of consumers believe that only recycled paper should be used to make new paper products

Action: So, there is lots of kudos for recycled stock, which is an option for many of your print specifications. Yet there’s arguably a gap in awareness here; paper from virgin fibre remains a positive choice as paper’s core component of wood fibre is a natural and renewable resource. 49% of the fibre used in the European pulp and paper industry comes from recycled paper. (3) On average, fibres can be recycled 3.5 times, (4) there is a point where they degrade and no longer bond together to make new paper.

4) 41% would consider avoiding a retailer if they were not actively trying to reduce their use of single-use, non-recyclable packaging

Action: The packaging of an item is often the first physical interaction that the recipient has with your brand, and it sets the tone for the relationship moving forward. Its long been a requirement that your packaging is eye catching, you must now add sustainability to the list of considerations. Beyond material choice, packaging should be minimised and end of life considerations made. As with earlier references, messaging and logos applied to your packaging should reassure and guide your contacts as they interact with your packaging. Here’s a link to some more guidance.

5) European consumers who prefer to read printed magazines is now 51%, up from 35%

Action: Since 2021 the preference for reviewing printed rather than digital information across magazines, catalogues, books and newspapers has increased! Think about improving the engagement of typically high percentages of your target audience by sharing information in the format they prefer. These publications no longer need to be printed in long runs to be cost efficient.

To conclude…

As you factor paper into your plans and purchases let us know if you need any guidance. We have access to lots of industry insights that can inform effective and cost-efficient paper projects.

More about the Trend Tracker Survey

In January 2023, a global study of 10,250 consumers was commissioned by not-for-profit organisation Two Sides, and conducted online by the independent research company, Toluna. This biennial survey explores changing consumer preferences, perceptions, and attitudes toward print, paper, and paper-based packaging. It reached consumers in 16 countries across the world, from South America and the United States to South Africa and Europe.



  1. www.wwf.org.uk/10-myths-about-deforestation
  2. UN FAO Data, 2005 – 2020
  3. CEPI Key Statistics, 2022
  4. European Paper Recycling Council Monitoring Report, 2021

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