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Are Marketers Bowing to Positive Peer Pressure?

What percentage of the wrapper does the Terracycle invitation take up? That's some serious real estate!

Teenage drinking = bad peer pressure.

A first-grader learning to do a cartwheel for the first time because of the encouragement of her classmates on the playground = good peer pressure.

Marketers calling themselves “green” or “sustainable” because everyone else is doing it = bad peer pressure.

Marketers switching from traditional to compostable packaging because others have been successful with it = good peer pressure.

What’s my point? My free samples of Boulder Canyon chips arrived today. Across the top in a two-inch banner read, “Compostable Packaging!” Seriously, it’s probably the first thing you see. Nor can you miss it on the SunChips bag, where it takes up the top quarter of the package. Even my Keebler chocolate chip cookies container asks consumers to “Turn this wrapper into a good cause,” an invitation to get involved in upcycling (keeping cookie wrappers and other packaging out of landfills by turning them into new products) wrapped in a 2 1/2″ x 4″ green leaf that fairly leaps out of the brown and caramel package.

100% compostable packaging is relatively new, but upcycling has been around for awhile. What’s news to me, though, is how consumer products companies are now putting these programs front and center. When I say the leaf on the Chips Deluxe package catches your eye, I’m not kidding. The leaf is bigger than the chocolate chip cookies Keebler is selling. It’s bigger than two of them.

Do you know what a big deal this is? The front of a product package is one of the most precious pieces of real estate a consumer product company has. For them to devote 10% or even 20% of that real estate to some kind of sustainability initiative really says something. For them to give more space to sustainability marketing  than the product itself, that’s astonishing.

Is it just me? Or has anyone else noticed? If it’s due to positive peer pressure, let’s keep that peer pressure going!

By the way, I’m planning to plant that compostable Boulder Canyon packaging once I’ve polished off the chips. I’ll keep you updated on its decomposition.

Also, Keebler, if you’re listening, “details on back” (inviting consumers to turn the package over for details on the Terracycle program) works in the store, but not after consumers have opened the crackle-y, flappy cookine container at home. If you’re going to invite people to turn over the package, you need to make it resealable. I’ll leave the unfortunate results to your imagination. Let’s just say the dog had a great night.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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