Three Key Findings for Retailer Marketers - Six Months After Bag Charge England Introduced

It's been 6 months since Bag Charge England was introduced and data is starting to be realised. Early figures show that plastic bag use has plummeted - so what marketing & branding opportunities does this present for retailers?

Three Key Findings for Retailer Marketers - Six Months After Bag Charge England Introduced

An article in Guardian Environment, Six Things We Know About The Plastic Bag Charge in England reflects on the effects of the 5p carrier bag charge that was introduced to England six months ago (October 2015).

The article covers 6 main things we've found out since the charge was introduced. These range from the factual to the humorous - the media reports of 'chaos' were highly exaggerated and never quite materialised!

For us at Smartbags, we're always keeping an eye on bag charge developments and looking at how they provide opportunities for business.

In this article, 3 findings jumped out as key opportunities for retailers looking to use Bag Charge England (or Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland for that matter!) as a marketing & branding tool for their retail business:

1. Plastic Bag Use Down = Bag for Life Use Up

The main reason the bag charge was introduced was to cut the number of plastic bags that end up as litter, polluting the environment and causing a problem for wildlife. So, it's great to see this objective is being achieved.

"The overwhelmingly good news is that bag usage has slumped by around 80% and remains static. The UK’s largest retailer Tesco said in December that the number of bags had been slashed by 78% since the charge was introduced, while at Morrisons, plastic bag consumption was down 80% across its stores." (Rebecca Smithers, Guardian Environment, 6th April 2016)

These figures reflect those that were released after Northern Ireland and Wales introduced the charge - Carrier Bag Charge Helps Raise Bag for Life Use by 70%. As consumers ditched plastic they turned to reusable bags to save paying the bag charge.

Take advantage of this a retail marketing opportunity and create a branded reusable shopping bag for your business. It will get your brand out there and raise brand awareness each time the bag is reused. Don't leave it to the large retailers, reusable bags are something that retailers of all sizes can benefit from.

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2. Charities are benefiting - team up with a worthy cause.

In the article, Rebecca flags up that the government hopes that the 5p charge will raise £730 million over 10 years for charities. Tesco's 'Bags of Help' community initiative is expected to donate £20m just this year - the largest amount donated ever in a single year.

Aiding charities has a lot of benefits - it looks good on the retailer and shows them as a 'caring' brand. It also provides valuable PR and increased footfall instore. This strategy can be implemented by small, local retailers too.

Team up with a local charity, sell co-branded reusable bags to raise funds and awareness. Organise in-store events, get customers involved in fund raising - anything you can think off to market both your retail brand and your chosen charity.

Read more about using promotional bags to raise awareness & funds for charities

3. A Bag for Life = Best Seller!

Consumers are looking for ways to avoid the 5p charge and in doing so reusable bags are becoming best sellers in their own right! As noted in the article:

"Homeware retailer Lakeland has reported strong sales of colour-coded bags that fit in supermarket trolleys, while manufacturers of wheeled shopping trolleys have also enjoyed buoyant sales."

Bag for Life sales have soared since the bag charge was introduced, so it's worth considering adding them to your stock range. Sell them as part of a customer loyalty scheme like craft beer retailer, Beer Cavern, or just have them available to purchase at point of sale to create a new stream of revenue!

These are just some of our ideas for making the most of the Bag Charge. For more ideas, check out our Ideas by Industry - Fashion, Retail & High Street for related blogs and case studies.

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