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The Bag Charge: 4 Sales and Marketing Opportunities for Small Retailers

Small retailers in England don't have to charge customers 5p for carrier bags, but there are many advantages of doing so. It could help generate revenue, market your brand and gain valuable PR for your retail brand.

The Bag Charge: 4 Sales and Marketing Opportunities for Small Retailers

If you live in England you couldn't have missed the news on the 5p bag charge when it was introduced during October 2015. There was certainly mixed feelings about it and it didn't escape the attention of the Twitter-sphere - but now the dust is settling and consumers are getting used to carrying reusable bags with them to avoid the charge.  

Unlike retailers in the rest of the UK, small English retailers don't have to comply with the charge. However,there are many advantages of doing so. The bag charge provides an opportunity to generate revenue, gain customer loyalty, advertise your retail business and gain some valuable PR whilst raising money for a good cause. 

Sound good?! Here's how retailers can take advantage of the sales & marketing opportunities:   

1) Generate sales revenue by selling branded reusable shopping bags.

Since the plastic bag charge was introduced in Wales and Northern Ireland there has been an 80% reduction in the amount of plastic bags used  .  Customers have got into the habit of carrying reusable shopping bags with them to avoid the 5p charge.  But if they forget their bag or need a new one, make it easy for them to pick one up!

By adding a range of reusable bags to your product offering which can be sold at a profit, you are creating an additional stream of revenue for your business, as well as providing a service!

Read: Carrier Bag Charge Raises Bag for Life Use in the UK

2) Give away reusable bags as a customer gift

We all like a freebie and customers will love being given a free reusable bag. This works well if you have a particular marketing campaign in mind such as an opening, birthday or milestone in the business or to generally create buzz around your brand. 

A giveaway rewards your customers, which improves the customer experience which hopefully, will result in increased customer loyalty, recommendations and sales.

Read: Let's Get Physical - Promotional Gifts Win the Race to Attract Customers

3) Let reusable bags act as marketing tool

An added bonus of selling or giving away a reusable bag to your customers is that the bag will act as a walking advertisement.  A well-designed bag will be used again and again and each time it’s reused it will be spreading the message about your retail business & brand. It also provides a relatively low-cost way of marketing to a wider audience.

When you give away bags to your customers and improve their customer experience, you are also helping to create brand advocates. People who will tell others how wonderful your retail outlet and products are. Word-of-mouth is one of most powerful marketing tools there and is the  holy grail of marketeers.

Read: Pardon! this Case Study: Brand Identity & Driving Sales

4) Team up with a worthy cause and raise awareness

Retailers will be expected to donate revenue from the bags to a charity of their choice. This can be taken one step further by forming a marketing campaign/partnership with a local or small charity.

You could sell co-branded reusable bags with all profits going to your chosen charity. You might also want to organise some in-store events with all proceeds being donated. Which type of event will depend on what type of retail business you manage but you will receive valuable PR, increase footfall and do a good turn all at the same time!

The bag charge has raised a huge amount in the rest of the UK. Asda have already donated £360,000 to charities in Wales with proceeds from the Welsh bag charge.  It provides a wonderful opportunity for local charities to get funding they may otherwise miss out on, so get creative and think how you could benefit a local charity.  

These are just a few ideas on creating sales & marketing opportunities from the introduction of the plastic bag charge. You might have a few ideas of your own. How does your retail outlet plan on making the most of the plastic bag charge?

Further Reading

Plastic Bag Charge Set to Benefit the Environment

It’s in the Bag

Carrier Bag Image: Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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