Over the last 40 years or so, environmental groups have taken marketers to task for their handling of product packaging. Environmentalist complaints have been well documented with most of their focus being on the negative impact packaging has on the environment. While early on many marketers ignored these criticisms, the need to understand packaging's impact on the environment has led nearly all companies to take into consideration these consequences when designing the materials that holds their products. Essentially this has led companies to consider three options for the material that surrounds their products: make it recyclable, make it returnable or make it biodegradable.
Marketers, not surprisingly, have turned these three options from a negative to a positive by turning these into promotional opportunities (e.g., highlight how their product is good for the environment). Well now there appears to be a fourth option that marketers should consider when making packaging decisions – make it repurposable. Using the repurpose option, marketers can suggest that once their product is consumed the packaging can be used in other ways. An excellent example is presented in this story from Advertising Age. It discusses how Coca-Cola is actively promoting ways its used plastic bottles can be turned into new products with the addition of add-on items. Coca-Cola is offering 16 screw-on tops that can be used to create such products as pencil sharpeners, water squirters and paintbrushes.
Currently, Coke is only promoting these repurposed products in Asian markets. Yet, if consumers in these markets buy the add-ons, expect Coke to expand the idea to other parts of the world. Also, expect to see more add-on options.