I spotted this ad for reusable bags at the supermarket, and I think it's brilliant! After a quick chat with the clerk at checkout, though, I left the grocery store with some mixed feelings about it.
How They Got it Wrong
When I spotted the sign at the checkout counter, I immediately asked the clerk if I could take a picture of it. She was happy to let me, saying I should show my friends who don't bring their own bags.
Then, she said it's a good thing I snapped a picture, since they change out the checkout ads all the time. What do they do with the old plastic signs? According to her, they throw them in the garbage.
That seems more than a little bit incongruous to the whole reusable bag campaign. I wondered how many plastic signs they went through every year. There were around 10 checkout lanes at this store, so if they're changing the signs out weekly, that's 520 signs each year in that location. According to their website, there are 1023 stores here in the U.S., which adds up to over half a million of those little, plastic signs headed to the landfill, if they're all engaging in this practice.
How They Got it Right
What really struck me about this ad is that it doesn't appeal to folks' feelings about the environment. If someone is still taking disposable, plastic grocery bags at this point, the environment is probably not high on their list of concerns.
Instead, it highlights direct, immediate benefits for the person buying the bag: their bigger, more convenient bag means fewer grocery bags to carry. In case you can't read the copy on there, it says, "Three times the groceries in a Publix reusable bag means fewer bags for you to tote home." Simple and elegant!
I think that there's a lot to learn from this marketing strategy. Unfortunately, not everyone is convinced that we're in the midst of a crisis, and we may not have time to change everyone's mind. What other eco-friendly life choices could we frame in terms of immediate, personal benefit, rather than talking about frightening but far off consequences?