Unilever partnered with Wal-Mart to help educate shoppers on how they could use Suave’s soaps, shower gels and shampoos in a more eco-friendly way, earning SN's Supplier Leadership Award for Sustainability.
Unilever and Wal-Mart have more than their trading partnership in common; in an effort to reduce their respective carbon footprints both have addressed the consumer-use stage of their products’ life cyles.
So when Unilever sought a retailer to help educate shoppers on how they could use Suave’s soaps, shower gels and shampoos in a more eco-friendly way, it needn’t look very far. Wal-Mart, after all, had made it a priority to change the care labels on its apparel lines to a cold water wash and taken other steps to encourage sustainable home-use behaviors that not only helped consumers do their part for the environment, but also saved them money.
“Because of Wal-Mart’s similar commitment to environmentally responsible goals, Unilever approached the retailer in 2011 to partner on the Suave Turn Off the Tap initiative to help us make a larger, positive consumer impact in a faster way,” David Ruben, Unilever’s brand building director of U.S. haircare, told SN.
The manufacturer sought to make a significant dent in its goal to cut its overall carbon footprint in half by 2020, by teaming the world’s largest retailer with a brand so pervasive it’s found in more than half of all U.S. households.
Since the majority of greenhouse gas emissions associated with Suave products result from heating consumers’ showers, Unilever encouraged Wal-Mart shoppers to modify their showering and bathing habits. In keeping with Wal-Mart’s “Save money. Live better” campaign, Turn Off the Tap also highlights how taking small steps can impact a household’s bottom line.
On Suave shampoo and conditioner bottles, the campaign communicates that by turning off the water while washing and conditioning hair, the average family can save up to 3,200 gallons of water and $100 per year. On packages of body care products, users are encouraged to shorten their shower time by two minutes to save up to $150 and 4,600 gallons of water each year. And with Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo — a product that’s sprayed on the hair rather than used in the shower — they can cut back on shower washes and refresh their hair in between.
Shelf signs convey a similar message in-store, as do off-shelf promotional activities at Wal-Mart, according to Ruben. Shoppers can save even more money by taking the Turn Off the Tap pledge to commit to environmentally friendly shower behaviors on the Suave Beauty Facebook page.
“Consumers who take the pledge are rewarded with coupons for savings on select products,” Ruben explained.
While Unilever cannot comment on the program’s impact on sales, it was pleased with last year’s results and looks forward to continuing Turn Off the Tap with Wal-Mart through the remainder of the year, Ruben said.
A new addition to the campaign will be a yet-to-be announced digital component executed in partnership with Wal-Mart, which has also been pleased with Turn Off the Tap.
“Wal-Mart is committed to selling products that sustain people and the environment, because we know that environmental sustainability is a key part of doing business responsibly and successfully,” said Wal-Mart Senior Director Michael Smith. “Programs like Suave’s Turn Off The Tap initiative help bring this commitment to life for our customers, and educate them on small steps they can take to live more sustainably. We appreciate the work that suppliers like Unilever do to help curb this impact and help our customers save money and live better.”
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