The problem with plastics has reached a tipping point. And whether you’re an environmental crusader or just a citizen of the world, the impact on your life is inevitable. As a social impact professional, the consumer behavior implications underlying this movement is one to watch, no matter your impact area of choice.
Whether it’s California imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores, companies like Starbucks pledging to eliminate plastic straws or the appearance of products resourcefully produced from ocean plastics, companies and consumers alike are starting to feel the pressure to change daily plastic use habits.
We all know that consumer behavior change is notoriously tricky to achieve. Social impact golden child Unilever is trialing a variety of ‘refill and reuse’ options around the globe to determine the most feasible ways to help customers become more conscious consumers.
A few of their active projects include:
An app-powered dispensing system for home care products in Chile.
Shoppers buy reusable containers for laundry and dishwashing detergent, create an online account and then arrange a free visit of an electric tricycle to make a home visit to refill their product containers. When the tricycle arrives, consumers simply dispense the desired amount and pay per weight.
A mall-based “Refillery” for hair care products in the Philippines.
Launched in three shopping malls across Manila, the pilot gave consumers the opportunity to buy or refill their regular Unilever shampoo and conditioner brands without additional packaging waste. The stations also functioned as upcycling hubs where consumers could drop off their used plastic bottles.
Refills delivered directly to consumer doorsteps on LOOP in Paris and New York City.
Nine Unilever brands are trialing reusable packaging innovations on LOOP (a global waste-free shopping system created in partnership with the world’s largest CPG companies). Consumers buy online and products are delivered in a reusable tote. Once finished, LOOP picks the product container up from their home, replenishes the products and returns the refilled shipping tote back to the consumer’s doorstep.
Whether you’re involved in environmental issues such as the impact of plastics or not, the trend is clear: consumer behavior change can make a significant impact on a wide variety of causes.
The companies and nonprofit organizations that will ultimately earn consumer attention are those that help make these behavior changes a bit easier to adapt by effectively leveraging innovative partnerships and available technologies.
Is there a consumer behavior change you’d like to see that would make a difference in a cause you’re involved with? How can you make it easier for consumers to ‘nudge’ their behavior in a positive direction?