Engaging consumers on sustainability

In this column, Megan Timberlake discusses how learning from consumers can lead to positive change and new vectors of growth.

Did you know that 90% of Americans want to live more sustainably, but only 11% consistently
do? As an industry, it’s important that we understand why. Supporting consumers’ desire to live sustainably will unlock new opportunities for growth and new solutions for the planet.

Most Americans think sustainable habits at home are too difficult (82%), too expensive (89%) and sacrifice product performance (73%). But what if making sustainable choices did not have to be hard? What if product innovation and industry partnership could provide consumers with the superior performance they expect and help them to easily reduce their environmental footprint?

As an industry, we know from science-based life cycle assessments that the best way to improve the environmental footprint of everyday products is by reducing the water and energy needed to do the job. But only 18% of consumers understand that reducing energy and water while doing laundry, dishes or showering can have the biggest impact.

sustainabiliy teaser

This provides a meaningful opportunity for retailers and CPG companies to educate and equip consumers with the information they need to lead more sustainable lives without making major changes.

This education can help drive change at scale. Retailers and CPG companies should partner to
engage consumers. For example, P&G activated its “It’s Our Home” campaign for the third year in 2023 to show how easy it can be to save water, waste and energy; products are made to deliver superior performance for consumers and help them reduce their footprint.

Numerous instances from across our industry demonstrate how retailers and manufacturers are working to reduce their own operational footprints while helping consumers do the same. For example, in partnership with Harris Teeter, a subsidiary of Kroger, and the Arbor Day Foundation, P&G aims to plant 60,000 trees across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. When shoppers purchase $50 worth of P&G products, we commit to planting 10 trees. With support from Harris Teeter shoppers, P&G has planted 35,000 trees over the last two years. Harris Teeter and P&G are executing this initiative in 2023 with plans to plant another 25,000 trees in 2023.

In partnership with Walmart, OLAY North America is launching its first 100% recycled jars. Made available for the OLAY Vitamin C + Peptide 24 Face Moisturizer and OLAY Retinol24 + Peptide Night Face Moisturizer, the 100% recycled jars also include cartons made from pulp certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The limited-run jar is the latest in OLAY’s test-and-learn approach to designing more sustainable packaging using 100% recycled materials. Together with Walmart, the new 100% recycled jars are expected to prevent up to 10,000 pounds of plastic waste from entering landfills. With this launch, OLAY further invests in its commitment to Responsible Beauty and P&G’s progress toward 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2030. This partnership between OLAY and Walmart exemplifies both brands’ ability to innovate to meet consumer desire for a more sustainable shopping experience.

In addition to product and packaging innovations, we can test and learn how we communicate with consumers on sustainability topics. For example, P&G’s Tide and Cascade brands have leveraged humor as an approachable way to inspire habit change.

With consumer interest in sustainability accelerating, it is vital for retailers and CPG companies to partner. Listening to consumers and helping them live more sustainably can drive substantial change, spur new levels of sustainable innovation and unlock new vectors of growth for our industry.

At P&G, environmental sustainability is embedded in how we do business, and we believe that innovation cannot be irresistibly superior without also being sustainable. In partnership with retailers, we are dedicated to building a better future, setting a new standard for sustainable superiority and working to make a difference for the planet.

megan timberlake headshot

Megan Timberlake, senior vice president, sales, North America Sustainability and P&G Walmart Team at Procter & Gamble. 

More Blog Posts in This Series

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds