Retailers Seek To Boost Sales Of ‘Green’ Products – Part II
The plastic bag problem
As with so many other Western countries, a growing concern in America is the widespread use of plastic shopping bags in just about every corner of retail. Plastic bags consume valuable petroleum resources during their manufacture and then become a nuisance and environmental hazard once they are discarded.
Several cities and some States are already working on legislation to ban the use of plastic bags. However, some retailers prefer not to wait for legislative action, and they are encouraging the use of re-usable shopping bags by selling them at cost or even giving them to customers. A particularly innovative idea employed by Simon Shapiro, owner of Tags Hardware in suburban Boston, involved crediting customers 25 cents on their purchases each time they bring in their imprinted Tags bags. It’s a clever idea because consumers like to use them when shopping, and they serve as good advertising for the local retailer.
Labelling programs and initiatives
The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement chain, created a lot of buzz when they launched the Eco Options line in April 2007. To date the product line includes no and low VOC paints, cleaners, high efficiency toilets, organic plant food and other ‘green’ lawn care products.
In April this year Depot also created a 3-member Green Tem in each store to ensure that employees and customers are continually updated about Eco Option products. Its store recycling program has the potential to divert 95 million pounds of trash from landfills in the coming year. However, many other chains have also released their own green labels and initiatives.
Here is a selected list of programs.
- Ace Hardware exhibited a label called ‘Helpful Earth Choices’ at its Spring Market. The exhibit featured 12 new end caps and five new header signs, as well as new plan-o-grams for environmental products.
- True Value call their equivalent program ‘Greener Options’. They claim to have identified 2,200 relevant products so far, which are classified into one of four categories: Water Saving, Energy Saving, Clean Air, or Environmentally Friendly Home. True Value also feature ‘green’ products in circulars developed for dealer distribution, and they also provide point-of-sale banners and signing for retailers to use on end caps and elsewhere in the store for ‘green’ products.
- Do It Best is a chain that features ‘EnviroLink’, with five categories in all: Save Energy, Save Water; Recycle, Reuse; Conserve Resources; Safe & Healthy Home; and Energy Star-Qualified. Do It Best say they have identified 2,000 products so far.
- Orgill identified more than 1,300 similar products. Retailers can obtain a POP kit with banners, hanging signs, perfboard and shelf talkers, and green products will be promoted very heavily at this coming Fall Market
- ICI Paints launched a new ‘green’ paint line this spring, exclusively with Home Depot. Freshaire Choice paint is free of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and is available in 66 colours.
- Rona, a large Canadian firm, introduced a line of Rona Eco products in April. Cleaning products and biodegradable bags were among the first offered through its 680 corporate, franchised and affiliated stores.
- Like Depot, Wal*Mart is incorporating energy-saving practices into new stores and is retrofitting older stores to conserve energy, achieving a 12% energy-saving in established stores last year. Wal*Mart’s new stores apparently use 34% less energy than those built before 2003.
- A growing number of retailers are also beginning to function as recycling centres, especially for compact fluorescent bulbs that contain mercury. They also collect and recycle fluorescent tubes, batteries, cell phones and other products like aluminium.Some promotional ideas
Here are some potential ideas witnessed in other US stores.
- At least one hardware retailer offers a five percent discount each time a customer returns a previously purchased bottle of store-bottled water to be recycled.
- Be a recycling centre for CFL bulbs, fluorescent tubes, batteries, cell phones, or even cardboard and packaging plastic or aluminium cans.
- In an effort to reduce emissions a New Jersey electric utility offered a 50% cash discount through local independent retailers to anyone buying an electric lawn mower instead of a gas mover.
- Another retailer celebrated Earth Day in its store this year by giving away 1,000 white pine saplings and a 10% discount on any of its 1,000 ‘green’ products. It also had environmental specialists on hand for a weekend to answer consumer questions.