Walmart has been one of the world’s largest companies for good number of years and it enjoys a reputation as the world’s most successful retailer.
Constant innovation and improvement helped create exponential growth compared to its rivals. And the company is loath to rest on its laurels. It’s latest challenge is to lower the use of the ubiquitous plastics that are part of retail packaging. The goal is to cut usage and create more sustainable packaging solutions.
Walmart’s sales are greater than the combined sales of Kroger, Target, Costco and the Home Depot in the US. And worldwide, the company’s sales exceed that of Kroger, Target, Costco, The Home Depot, Walgreen, and CVS. Any efforts Walmart takes are likely to have profound effects on how industries behave.
Walmart has been responsible in taking a lead in reducing all wastage in energy and materials. Rivals barely acknowledge having a sustainability program in the US, where many are still debating whether sustainability is something they should begin pursuing.
Reduce Plastics by 3 Billion Pounds
Recently, Rob Kaplan, Wal-Mart director of product sustainability has publicly reiterated Walmart’s pursuit of an advantage in sustainable packaging. Kaplan himself said “If it doesn’t pay, it’s not sustainable.” The intent is obviously to use sustainability to create a business advantage.
This time, Walmart wants to reduce its post-consumer plastic packaging by 3 Billion pounds. Probably just a rough estimate to shock people, but it could be that plastic waste and cost is giving them significant problems.
Innovations and efficiencies in sustainable packaging has an intial price and Walmart has the financial might to handle that cost in materials, sales, supply channel disruption, and recycling. It won’t be long before they see a return in profit on their program.
It’s a good thing they’re leading the way, otherwise, government would have to be more active in sustainable packaging legislation. And, the public will for that does waffle. In Florida, they don’t even have residential recycling programs, whereas here in Ontario local municipalities are getting stringent.
It’s a different playing field, which may why these big international companies are waffling on sustainability. How do you handle product pricing in the midst of cost differentials for retail stores?
On a closing note, Kaplan also said: “Wal-Mart’s size also means the company needs to stay away from any potential unintended negative consequences that a push for higher post-consumer recycled content might bring. Those problems could include stripping supply, growing too fast, and pitting suppliers against one another”, the product sustainability director said. “Those things we are really cautious about.”
There are plenty of issues regarding cost, competitiveness, packaging design, or supply chains, but with Walmart pushing for change, it should level the playing field for everyone. Let’s hope sustainability in packaging and business processes continue growing!
Time to stretch your marketing dollars. See our tips on maximizing your budget in 2014.
Do you need to do a packaging rebrand? Every 5 years, a brand can go out of style and that means competitors can make inroads if you’re not upgrading yours. That’s one more reason why a rebrand is a good idea.
After your rebranded design and packaging style is complete, consider how you’ll improve shelf -impact with your POP displays, use new technology such as NFC and QR codes and digital coupons to power up trial purchases and stay top of mind.