Marketing Lessons From The Plastic Bag Ban

 In Branding and Marketing, Food for Thought

The plastic bag ban has finally come and it is here to stay. Beyond the online news stories and social media posts about abused retail and supermarket staff, society hasn’t crumbled like a single-use bag under a landfill.

This roll-out has sparked yet another nationwide conversation about how individuals can make an environmental impact. Caged eggs, coffee cups and the time you spend watering your garden are all decisions that are ultimately left with the consumer. The problem is consumers will more likely than not take the easier and cheaper option, which puts the strain on the environment. So businesses and government have to step in, and work out a solution. This solution could be a terrible and confusing period of adjustment, before finally the new normal.

To make that adjustment easier, here are two important marketing lessons from tprmedia on consumer behavior.

Be Positive

With all the articles, think-pieces, rants and surveys focusing on the dire state of the environment, it’s easy to lose sight of the intent of a community campaign: to make the world a better place. Campaigns should encourage consumers to make better choices, rather than shaming those for not making the right decision in the moment. 

A clear example of this is the NSW What A Tosser [Link 9] community campaign aimed at reducing litter. Critics of the campaign argued the concept focused too much on unrealistic stereotype of a litterbug. Most people aren’t aware of how much they litter, so creating an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ relationship with your community only makes people more likely to compare themselves to others, instead of objectively self-assessing their actions.

Stick to Your Guns

Businesses have stepped out of line and started marketing themselves as green, self-imposing environmentally friendly practices in order to make themselves the ethical consumer choice. However, changing consumer behavior requires actual change and not just proclaiming you’re ahead of the curve.

Retail giant Target brought back their free single-use plastic bags for customers in 2013, after a backlash against their biodegradable plastic bags they introduced in 2009. While the move was a response to hundreds of complaints, Jon Dee of Do Something! lamented over the ‘step backwards’ in environmentally sustainable business practices.

Other notable examples include American giants Walmart and Starbucks both facing public scrutiny over being caught out on contradicting their own green policy. This can heavily damage a business’ reputation.

While not embellishing your effort to reduce your carbon footprint seems obvious, it might help to survey your business for oversights, to see if your actions truly align with your message.

If you’d like us to help market your message, contact us today.

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