DALLAS — When it comes to sustainability, the nonfood segment of the grocery industry is still in its infancy, Kevin Maher, marketing director for The Clorox Co., Oakland, Calif., said here during the Healthy Foods International Exposition and Conference.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs and “green” air filters were among the first nonfood items to offer consumers a sustainable alternative to conventional products, and his company's introduction last year of a line of natural cleaning products “is helping to make the movement more visible,” he told SN following a formal presentation.
“What we set out to do was provide greener options to everyone and make the whole pie bigger, and we think we've succeeded in helping to bring green marketing from the perimeter of the store to the center of the store.”
Speaking to a workshop audience here at the inaugural HFI event — which was co-sponsored by SN and New Hope Natural Media, both divisions of Penton Media, New York — Maher said shoppers are often confused about green products, “and because they see the retailer as an information source; that's who they're looking to for help resolving that confusion.”
Accordingly, Clorox worked closely with major retailers to promote its introduction of the new Green Works line, he said.
Kroger Co., Cincinnati, helped promote the line among its health and wellness shoppers by highlighting the products on its website, including a coupon offer for free items; at store level, it allowed Clorox to break out displays of Green Works from the in-aisle cleaner section and onto a custom fixture at the end of an aisle, Maher said.
Costco Wholesale Grocers, Issaquah, Wash., agreed to promote the line with in-store demos during Earth Month in April and to include the products in its mailers and on its website, Maher pointed out.
“As a result, we sold as much Green Works at Costco within the promotional period as we did of Clorox Clean-Up [its conventional cleaning line] without affecting sales of the conventional line,” Maher indicated, “and within two months of our launch, natural cleaning product sales at Costco were up 250%.”
Speaking at the same HFI workshop, Tim Scholler, senior vice president of Mars Advertising, Southfield, Mich., said that, with sales of green products going up, CPG companies need to direct their efforts at servicing sustainability, “and retail is the critical leverage point. Consumers expect the industry to address environmental issues as part of their social responsibility. They want to know what companies are doing, and it's important we tell them because they are willing to reward those who do the right thing.
“Transparency is the key, and actions speak louder than words. We need to engage consumers and give them full disclosure so we can build a foundation of trust.”