Green Packaging

Topics: BusinessMarketing

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Last updated: April 16, 2019

Large product containers and lightweight refill packaging reduce the overall quantity of packaging per unit of product, thus reducing our solid waste stream and pressure on land fills.Why then, doesn’t a “green” company like Planet offer products in large economical sizes or refill packages?”Green” cleaners are not produced by major companies with large promotional budgets. Their sales volumes are significantly less than those of traditional mainstream brands and, consequently, supermarket chains generally consider them to be “niche” products.Planet is a small independent company. It would incur major development and logistical costs if it moved to offer each of its products in several package sizes, or even if it shifted the entire line to a few non-standard sizes.

Worse, beyond the direct costs, there are serious doubts about how such a project would be received in the marketplace. Retailers and consumers must both be willing to accept the larger sizes. To replace smaller packaging with larger is more easily said than done.

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When stocking, stores tend to place larger than standard products on more spacious bottom shelving. There, near the floor, they sit unnoticed except by informed, motivated customers. Consequently, sales are low and the product fails to meet the stores’ turnover targets. Ultimately, the product is doomed to be discontinued — all because of bottle sizes and shelf placement! Marketing gambles like this are too risky for Planet, so we have adopted industry standard sizing.

Consumer price sensitivity is another factor in determining bottle sizes. On a per unit volume or per unit weight basis, larger bottles or cartons can be priced more cheaply than their smaller brethren — hence the term “economy size”. Nonetheless, the fact remains that each bottle or carton is more expensive. And many people, when presented with a choice between infrequent large purchases and frequent small purchases, opt for the latter. They can save in the long run by buying in volume, but the smaller package represents a smaller immediate expense.

Frequently the short run “saving” wins.Customer convenience also figures into the relative market acceptance of different sizes of packaging. Larger sizes are sometimes not as easy or convenient to use. Many people find large bottles to be heavy and awkward to transport or handle.Summarizing then, Planet Liquid Laundry (for example) in 50 fluid ounce bottles means better consumer acceptance, better shelving, more frequent repurchases, and better turnover for stores. In contrast, Planet Liquid Laundry in 100 fluid ounce bottles would mean less than half the rate of repurchases, and would therefore increase the risk of being discontinued.Simultaneously offering two sizes, or one regular size and a refill, in the same retail outlet, would likely result in both being discontinued because the sales would be split between them.

Interestingly, most stores do not aggregate the turnover numbers for a particular product; they count different sizes of the same product separately. Thus, having only one package size per product helps to ensure that stores will continue to carry our products.It is an apparent contradiction for a self-proclaimed “green” consumer products company to be shunning large containers and lightweight refill packaging when they clearly reduce the overall consumption of packaging materials. Ultimately, the packaging issue is decided for us by consumer purchasing decisions at the stores, and by buying decisions of the major grocery chains.Unfortunately, it is true that in a mass market the environment does not always win out against convenience or lower prices. In order to keep our household cleaners on the shelves and available, we are sometimes forced to compromise. We sincerely believe that it is better to have products like ours available with some excess packaging than not to have them available at all!Keep in mind, we do make all our bottles from 50% recycled HDPE plastic which is, in turn, recyclable.

It is important to note that this means they are made from reused material. Many brands label their plastic bottles as being “recyclable”, but that does not mean that they have used any actual recycled material in manufacturing it.The above arguments notwithstanding, we do want to eventually offer larger packages and refills in our product line. As Planet’s sales and its resources grow, we hope to be able to introduce some larger economy sizes and refill packaging.

This may initially occur through “alternate” distribution channels (e.g. mail order).

Then you, our customers, will have more choices, and we can all score a small but important win for the environment.

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