We’re measured in the eyes of the public by our efforts to be environmentally responsible. And in the field of promotional marketing, those green expectations can be tough to measure up to. It’s worth having a critical eye on the environmental trends – and non-trends – to see where tangible differences can be made.
Web based promotions began to replace traditional sampling programs a full decade ago. The rationale seemed sound – product given away only to those who express interest. And best of all for marketers – a database of those interested consumers, who sign up to get free samples or coupons. This seemed as environmentally friendly as possible – less waste, lower bulk transportation.
So ten years later, what have we learned? Well, that this is a successful strategy in the right circumstances. Those circumstances depend almost entirely on your target audience demographics.
• Females 25-35 are perfect for web based promotions, and seem to have the patience to await the arrival of their samples by mail.
• Both males & females under 25 are responsive to texting – not web - based promotions, provided there is some sort of instant gratification attached – reward points, for example.
• Men have less patience than women, and are less likely to participate for goods to be delivered later.
• The higher the income levels, the lower the responsiveness to either web or text promotions. And that isn’t the case with sampling in general. Sampling of luxury goods (e.g. perfume, boutique foods) has always been a prime means of marketing.
Whether they hit the public through direct mail, in-store sampling, bundled with complementary products, or other localized distribution, physical samples need packaging. And that’s where the environmental rubber hits the road, because to many, packaging=evil. But a necessary evil that protects product from damage, and keeps foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals etc from potentially harmful contact with plastics, inks and more.
So change-up in the packaging materials is called for to make this alternative greener.
• Cellulose based films and soft plastic. Econopac uses this fully compostable material for overwrap film. Heat sensitive shrink wraps are also available.
• Corn based hard plastics. These are used primarily in blister packs and clamshells.
Most plastic film doesn’t bio-degrade, it photo-degrades, which means it breaks into smaller, but equally toxic pieces of plastic. Cellulose based film, however, completely degrades to a molecular level because it is plant matter.
Corn based hard plastic shells share the same compostable qualities. Issues of heat-resistance remain for this, however, because it melts at lower temperatures than standard blister-pack materials. For products which will be subject to more controlled environments, this remains an excellent alternative.
Sampling is effective. Period. Whether you receive a sample in-store, or request it on a website. The effectiveness of the method of delivery for a campaign is entirely dependent upon the target audience. For packaging materials, go as green as you can. The awareness of your environmentally friendly efforts can be a significant a factor in product selection. Just check the ever-expanding organic food section of your local market for the proof.
Econopac's full range of environmental packaging materials encompasses film - both clear and over-printed; shrink wrap; blister shells, inserts based on recycled/unbleached materials; and vegetable based inks.