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Refill and Reuse: Enticing the consumer to unlock scale

For a reuse model to scale, strong foundations of policy, investment, streamlined logistics and infrastructure are all needed to facilitate a seismic shift in how we use resources. What we often find missing in the conversation is the acknowledgement that consumer buy-in is lacking.

At Root, we always ask the obvious question – “What are the reasons that prevent us, as consumers, from buying into a reuse and refill model?”. We’re going to explore some of the key barriers brands need to overcome in order to unlock scale.

‘Designing in’ Desire

What refillable systems have you seen that truly entice you to try them? What examples of reuse and refill would you say are a pure pleasure to use? What systems keep you coming back for more because it is designed so well?

One of the skillsets often absent in refill projects is design. Most of the reusable solutions we’ve seen are not aesthetically or ergonomically pleasing. They feel industrial and undesirable.

It’s short-sighted to apply single-use packaging principles to a reusable system. It’s a completely different ball game.

Customer First reuse and refill strategies

When we design for reuse and refill today, many brands seem to miss out the ‘use’ phase. They might cover off the functional, commercial and environmental aspects, but who’s considering what the user wants?

It’s important to consider:

• What are your customers’ expectations on delivery, frequency, ergonomics, and experience?
• How do they expect your brand to behave?

It’s short-sighted to apply single-use packaging principles to a reusable system. It’s a completely different ball game. The required high-level ‘system thinking’ of a reuse and refill model can feel intangible to some brands. Their business models were never designed for reuse, so it’s a difficult concept to get their heads around.

Designing a system with the customer in mind will help you drive a clear path towards aligning impact, commercials, consumer and operations. Get it right and reuse and refill initiative will drive lifetime customer loyalty. That’s why we call our approach Design for Life.

The key to success is to ‘design in’ desire to create an effective system, but that may well mean adjusting your entire business model to suit.

Tesco discovered that Accessibility of return systems and fast re-payments are essential to creating a seamless experience that customers want to engage with

Reuse and refill case studies

– Tesco in partnership with Loop

Tesco found that the inconvenience for customers returning packaging and difficulty reclaiming deposits via the Loop app were the two main problems with the Loop scheme. A survey highlighted that the average consumer simply couldn’t see the added benefits of reuse over a recyclable single-use solution.

Accessibility of return systems and fast re-payments are essential to creating a seamless experience that customers want to engage with.

– ‘Designing out’ friction

We recently helped map out a simple refill subscription and collection model for one of our clients, tracking the user journey for the customer across a number of uses. Our learnings fed into working sessions that upskilled their design team and enabled us to ‘design out’ friction and ‘design in’ desire.

If you’d like to learn more about Root’s User Journey workshops, or need support to upskill your design team, email us at impact@root-innovation.com

Get in touch

Root is one of Europe’s leading sustainable consultancies, advising brands on how to use less and transition to becoming a regenerative, inclusive and kinder organisation to people and our planet.

To talk about your requirement please get in touch by email at impact@root-innovation.com or complete the enquiry form