Move away from plastic products presents an opportunity for housewares retailers
There is a growing move away from plastic products in the water bottle and food container sector and this presents an opportunity for housewares retailers
Bad for the planet
In the UK, over the last 12 months there has been an increased awareness of how disposable single use plastic is littering our oceans and countryside. This is causing a backlash against plastic products and influencing the materials being used for new kitchenware designs, including water bottles and lunch boxes.
When injection moulded plastic products first entered the market, it seemed like the perfect material for water bottles and food containers. It was easy to produce in volume, strong (long life), cheap, versatile and recyclable. However, the cheapness and resilience of plastic has also been its downfall. Too often they have been used for single use disposable products, so people are used to throwing them in the bin (often not caring whether they go into landfill or get recycled). This has meant that non-disposable plastic water bottles and food containers are devalued and hold little long term value.
There have also been safety fears in relation to harmful chemicals leaching into our water and food from poor quality plastics. Consumers may not know what BPA (Bisphenol A) is or why it is harmful, but they do know they don’t want it contaminating their food or water!
Designed to last
The other challenge with most commonly used plastics is that they do not age well. If you look in an antique shop at old products that are made from wood, leather, metal or glass, you could say these items have taken on a patina through use and age. The same cannot be said of plastic, which due its toughness, does not age or wear in the same way, and will most likely fade, scratch or break over time.
With the growing consideration for the environment and move away from single use cheap plastic, consumers are increasingly wanting products which will last and age well. The ‘buy once, buy well’ mantra is beginning to resonate, and this presents an opportunity for designers to use higher value materials like metal, glass and wood. More consumers are now prepared to pay more for water bottles and food containers that will last and age well.
Why this trend is good for retailers
With our own stainless steel lunchboxes and water bottles, we are seeing a retail trend that is resonating with consumers. In June, we were recognised.by Scarlet Opus, the specialist trends forecasting company, as an Eco 2.0 trend for 2019, celebrating environmental awareness by the consumer. When we designed these non-plastic products, we set ourselves the brief that we wanted them to age well and get better through use. Too often this long-term thinking has been ignored and in this category especially. This presents a massive opportunity for retail social media and digital marketing, to be able to tell consumers about this benefit. Consumers want and deserve more from the products they buy. By supplying customers with a product which will last and be enjoyed for many years to come, you create a loyal bond. This isn’t to say that plastic is no longer of value, but it does mean it needs to be used in a more considerate and responsible way. Consumers are becoming more discerning about the products they buy, and retailers and designers need to respect and respond to this demand.