An interesting thing happened to me in the bathroom of a Brunswick bar recently.
I was happily getting on with business when something caught my eye. Who gives a crap toilet paper®.
I have to confess it wasn’t the first time I’ve seen Who gives a crap® toilet paper adorn the cubicles of Melbourne locales, it’s just that, well, being toilet paper I never really paid any attention.
This time, however, perceptual fluency weaved its magic. Ferraro, Bettman, and Chartrand (2008) described how, repeated mere exposure through incidental consumer brand encounters (ICBEs), can inadvertently bring about positive brand associations and increase the likelihood of purchase.
And so it was that in time, Who gives a crap®, with its distinctively colourful packaging and captivating brand name, was able to snare my attention and lead me on a quest for more information.
So who is Who gives a crap®?
Who gives a crap® toilet paper is specifically aimed at those who do give a crap.
A for profit organisation, Who gives a crap® uses environmentally and socially responsible practices to differentiate itself from its competitors. Offering eco-friendly toilet paper manufactured from 100% recycled paper, it donates 50% of its profits to WaterAid©, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving sanitation in the developing world.
With baby pastel coloured packaging to remind us of the children dying from diarrhoea every day, conspicuous motto’s, and a brand name which makes for interesting dinner table conversation, Who gives a crap is adept at its use of sensory brand stimuli to create an affective brand experience.
Toilet paper as a speciality buy?
Gazing at the online order form, I pondered on my decision.
Generally speaking, toilet paper could be considered a convenience buy with low-level customer involvement. Most people likely don’t care enough about toilet paper to invest much thought into the buying process. In these instances, marketers tend to rely on price discounts and extensive distribution channels to sell products (Iacobacci, 2013, p. 16).
So why would anyone contemplate purchasing a brand three times more expensive than the scores of alternatives available in their local supermarket?
Has social responsibility become a sought after attribute of toilet paper?
For some consumers, it appears so.
The shift in consumer motivations
Research conducted by Becker-Olsen, Cudmore & Hill (2006), proposed that ‘consumers expect firms to be involved in social initiatives and may reward them for their efforts through purchase behaviour.’ This hypothesis appears to be corroborated by more recent research, suggesting that consumers are increasingly taking social responsibility into consideration when making purchase decisions.
After surveying 30,000 consumers across 60 countries, Nielsen found that 55% of respondents stated they would purchase from environmentally and socially responsible companies even if it meant paying more.
Soon after, JWT Intelligence described the arrival of ‘Third Way Commerce’ (think TOMS® Shoes), underlining that consumers were ‘increasingly making purchase choices based on ethical and sustainable behaviour’.
Evidence indicates that consumers globally are becoming more altruistic in their purchasing decisions, willing to trade-off dollars in exchange for products promising a better social and environmental impact.
And it seems companies are taking notice.
The rise of the socially responsible enterprise
The Australian Financial Review recently published an article on the decision of Australian Ethical to divest from fossil fuel in an attempt to attract the growing market of environmentally conscious millennial investors.
Their decision came on the back of a report finding that millennials are twice as likely to invest in environmentally & socially responsible companies.
Companies are observing this shift and taking action.
The evidence is visible in Melbourne. Supermarket chains stock Fairtrade® coffee. Thankyou® products can be found in retailers across the city. We can dine at socially responsible establishments such as Long Street Coffee or Feast of Merit.
And of course, we can now buy socially responsible toilet paper online!
Posted by Angela Colantuono 216002314 (acolantu)
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Brakus, JJ, Schmitt, BH, & Zarantonello, L 2009, ‘Brand Experience: What Is It? How Is It Measured? Does It Affect Loyalty?’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 73, no. 3, pp. 52-68. DOI: 10.1509/jmkg.73.3.52.
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Smith, M 2016, Australian Ethical taps millennials for new growth, Australian Financial Review, retrieved 26 March 2016, http://www.afr.com/business/banking-and-finance/hedge-funds/australian-ethical-taps-millennials-for-new-growth-20160311-gngbvg.
Who gives a crap 2016, Our Impact, Who gives a crap, retrieved 26 March 2016, http://au.whogivesacrap.org/pages/our-impact.
Who gives a crap, 2016, Our Toilet Paper’, photograph, Who gives a crap, retrieved 26 March 2016, http://au.whogivesacrap.org/pages/our-toilet-paper.