There is a push for green products – be it because it makes economic sense or because you want to tap into the market that thinks and wants green.  So enters green marketing. So you come up with a great idea. BUT…Peter White, Procter & Gamble’s head of sustainability says….

“There are some people who will buy green because that’s one of their core consumer needs. Then there’s a mainstream that will behave in a sustainable way if you make it easy for them and don’t ask them to make compromises.”

This is an important concept to think about, especially when you hear how providing a green alternative, while a great idea, never captured the consumer’s commitment.

Minimised packaging is not new territory for P&G. But the company learned the hard way that consumers put convenience first, White says, when they decided to strip down bottles to plastic refills.

“We pioneered the use of refills back in the nineties. We put liquid detergents in pouches so [consumers] could fill their bottles at home … Consumers at the time didn’t want that. It was less convenient. The stores didn’t like it because the pouches didn’t sit right on the shelf”.

So what do consumers want from a green product? “They want products that are packaged efficiently, they don’t want excess packaging. They want packaging that can be recycled. They like the idea that it’s made of recycled material. But they also want convenience.”

As for zero-packaging ideas, such as consumers refilling their bottles in store, White says: “It makes a lot of mess and it takes much longer to do your shopping … it doesn’t work.”

So even using recycled plastic is often not a viable alternative because recycled plastic is a dirty grey – and consumers want nice shiny  packaging.

The next step for P&G is encouraging people to use cooler water in their washing machines (for which they have a product (in attractive packaging).


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