The world’s oceans contain more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic debris, which threaten the plants, animals, and food chains critical to our health -- and the health of the planet. With growing concerns over climate change and the impact of ocean-bound plastics, consumers are increasingly aligning their shopping habits and purchasing decisions with their personal anxieties about the environment.
To address the profound negative consequences of ocean plastics -- by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish -- SC Johnson is launching bottles made entirely from recycled ocean plastics collected by the non-profit Plastic Bank. The NGO will also donate proceeds from the initiative to communities struggling with poverty in its areas of operation -- Haiti,the Philippines, and Indonesia -- directly connecting them to the purchasing power of consumers of SC Johnson products worldwide.
As soon as Spring 2019, Windex Vinegar home cleaning products – one of SC Johnson’s most popular items – will be 100% made from recycled plastics sourced from the ocean. Nearly 8 million units of the product will be sold through retailers such as Target and Walmart, marking the beginning of a larger effort that includes the rollout later this year of a 100% “Social Plastic” Windex bottle also made from plastic recovered from the ocean by Plastic Bank.
Though Windex bottles have been made from 100% post-consumer plastic since 2015, SC Johnson’s new line of non-toxic and cruelty-free products made from recycled ocean-harvested plastics represents a global strategy to create products that resonate with a changing, more environmentally focused consumer mindset.
But are these consumers willing – if required – to pay a higher price point to help rid the oceans of plastics? Have today’s consumers reached an inflexion point where eco-friendly products are no longer a “nice to have” but a planet-saving “must have”? Will long-established companies with venerable reputations be able to win over a new generation of eco-conscious consumers who demand on having their concerns addressed?
What We Found
Suzy reached out to our panel of over 1 million consumers to gauge how often they recycle; TK were asked, and the majority of the respondents expressed a strong inclination to recycle, with 38% indicating they “Always” recycle. Surprisingly, a combined 14% of respondents claim they seldom or never recycle, representing a notable opportunity to increase awareness and change behaviors.
How often do you recycle?
We then retargeted those respondents who recycle and asked them how likely they were to purchase a recycled plastic product over a non-recycled plastic product. A whopping 85% of respondents indicated that, given the opportunity, they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to opt for the recycled product, demonstrating the eco-oriented values of modern consumers.
How likely are you to purchase a recycled plastic product over a single-use non-recycled plastic product?
Respondents not only showed a high affinity for recycled products, but also indicated a strong preference for products that have an environmentally friendly provenance. Three-quarters of respondents revealed that knowing where and how products are sourced and manufactured is a leading driver in their purchasing decisions.
How likely is it that a product’s environmental footprint will influence your purchasing decisions?
We then asked the respondents if they were confident that long-established companies with entrenched business practices were capable of meeting the expectations of environmentally conscious consumers. The majority of respondents indicated that they are reasonably confident that legacy companies possess the ability to address consumer behaviors that are increasingly influenced by the idea of environmental stewardship.
How confident are you that traditional companies with legacy brands will be able to adjust to a new era of environmental consciousness?
Suzy then asked respondents if they would be willing to pay a premium for products that were sourced and created using sustainable methods over similar products made from less sustainable practices. The responses revealed a robust willingness to pay more, with a combined total of 63% of consumers who are “likely” or “extremely likely” to spend more of their money on products that align with their personal values and interests in protecting the environment.
How likely are you to pay more for a product that is sourced by verified environmentally conscious practices over a similar product made from less-sustainable practices?
Concerns about the environment have gone mainstream and are directly impacting the way people shop, how much they spend, and their motivations for buying specific products. Companies that once simply put products on shelves now must contend with a new generation of consumers that are hyper-connected, informed, and mindful of their purchasing decisions and personal role in an important global issue.