Three of the brand’s successful shower gel references are currently available in bulk fountains tested in three points of sale in Germany and Spain. For the first purchase, the price of the aluminium bottle and its content is the same as that of the commonly found shower gels packed in plastic bottles. The following fillings save 25% and are also less expensive than the ecorefill.
“We aimed to help our consumers adopt more virtuous consumption habits and see how they would react, but also how our advisors would receive this new proposal, because it gives them more work to do, since they have to refill the products. Also, we wanted to see how the fountain technology would behave,” explains Corinne Fugier Garrel, Packaging Development Director of L’Occitane en Provence.
After 12 months, sales results are encouraging, so the brand can deploy the strategy.
New product offering and points of sale
“Our consumers approved this move and many asked us about our perhaps doing the same for other products. So, we have decided to broaden the offering to two other references, a shampoo and a conditioner,” says Corinne Fugier Garrel.
Sales for the three references concerned have slightly increased, and the operation also creates more added value and traffic. “The best news is the fact that consumers go back to our stores to refill their products: consumption patterns are definitely changing.”
Likewise, our beauty advisors gave us very positive feedback: for them, it is an opportunity to create privileged moments with their customers. They can take the time to explain our strategy and commitment.
As the brand is willing to keep making improvements, the technology will be enhanced for the deployment planned for phase two. “We will make it possible for consumers to take the initial plastic bottle back to their store, so it is refilled. The new technology can do that. The idea is to give the project the best chance by providing as many options as possible. We aim to include over 30 points of sale across Europe and Asia,” she explains.
Hunting for plastic
Obviously, refills have become a significant part of the group’s packaging reduction strategy. “We try to improve in this area with as many formulas possible. 25 references are already available with ecorefills, including two body care products,” adds Corinne Fugier Garrel.
L’Occitane has also been working on reducing the glass weight of skincare ranges and launching solid products minimizing packaging.
As for plastic, on the one hand, the hunting season is open to anything useless, like cellulose and spatulas. The next Advent calendar will be made of thermoformed cardboard. On the other hand, the use of recycled materials is now a priority. “We have been using recycled plastic for a long time in all our PET bottles. The average quantity for all our bottles is 35%. We aim to reach 100% by 2025,” explains the Director.
To achieve this, L’Occitane has partnered with Canadian company Loop Industries: they own a chemical recycling technology which helps obtain an rPET material of the same quality as the virgin material.
In addition, the group has committed to integrating 50% recycled materials to other plastics. “We also aim to use more recycled PE and PP in our packs, but the material is more difficult to obtain with a food grade. It is a challenge to take up.”
Lastly, to Corinne Fugier Garrel, it is also necessary to work on product recyclability. “Unfortunately, some materials are still composed of multiple layers, so they can’t be recycled. As regards this particular point, it is up to our suppliers to develop and push for single materials. We are much concerned about this, so we have been working together with our suppliers to make progress,” she concludes.