Influencing sustainability… nudge, nudge!

Nudge marketing is a fascinating theory. This concept can be utilised to positively influence the behaviour of people, based on their own free-will, to help them make a, more eco-friendly purchasing decision, as Philip Yorke discovered.

 ‘Nudge Marketing” a more sustainable step forward?

This is not a new initiative as it was developed 12 years ago and you certainly face it without knowing it.  Even though Nudge marketing can be used to improve consumer decision-making about sustainable packaging, it is not so prevalent in the packaging industry. Many examples exist in the hotel sector and are used there to save water, energy, or the number of towels to wash.

In the same way, there are several examples of Nudge marketing in public places such as transport and restaurants to improve cleanliness. So why not use it for promoting sustainable packaging?

The Right Packaging company considers Nudge marketing to be equally beneficial when used to encourage source reduction, recyclability, compostability or the use of bio-sourced packaging. Applying a logo or having a slogan written on the packaging to indicate that the packaging is recyclable or renewable is not sufficient and not efficient enough. The secret of Nudge marketing is how it is able to encourage the individual consumer to act differently, without forcing him or her to do so. However, it must be done in a transparent way and should never be misleading to ensure that there is no risk of manipulation.

Let’s look at the following example. It’s Saturday morning, you are going to your supermarket and you look at your shopping list on which you wrote: Liquid detergent. Having arrived at the shelf offering detergents, you look at the range of liquid detergent products on display. As a customer, you may have the option to choose between two bottles of similar detergent, the first is priced at € 2.42 with no message relating to sustainability and the second is priced at € 2.45. This one has the following message written on the pack:  “97 % of our liquid detergent customers consider that it is important toreduce plastic waste”

The smaller package does not indicate any savings in terms of metric tons of plastic, or recyclability or the percentage of renewable material used, only a clue about what most people prefer.

Obviously, a lot of other parameters can be considered, but in this case, most of the customers will choose the smaller packaging based upon their subconscious beliefs, which are responsible for the majority of a customer’s everyday decision making.

In addition to this example, many companies assume, often wrongly, that sustainable packaging will be at a premium price. For example, as a result of costs incurred by replacing non-recyclable material with recyclable material, and fossil-based material with renewable sourced material. However, making a choice for sustainable packaging in line with consumer preferences can also help to support and drive sales forward. An attractive presentation of environmentally friendly packaging, combined with Nudge marketing, can offer a competitive advantage, particularly when two or more claims exist for similar products.

At “The Right Packaging” company we believe that a little Nudge marketing can be used effectively to increase local recycling rates and to boost consumer awareness in order to help customers make the correct, and more eco-friendly decision.

Written by Kevin Gambrill