Airing My Dirty Laundry

AllBottles.jpgThe biggest challenge facing new consumer products isn’t competition. It’s habit.

Habits are decision-making shortcuts, especially for low-involvement products. Our brains just don’t have room to make rational choices about everything we do every day.

Or so I’d like to think. Because my wife and I have been buying the same giant-sized bottle of laundry detergent for years. Even though a smaller, cheaper, more eco-friendly 3x concentrated size was available.

Call it the “Costco effect,” perhaps. We’re trained to think monster sizes are monster values. Even when they are a monstrous waste.

Well, stores are pulling the jumbo bottles off the shelves, so we were forced to learn what we probably already knew: The “small and mighty” bottle works just as well. Our habits just got in the way.

The Irish seem to get it. Earlier this decade, Ireland was using an estimated 1.2 billion plastic grocery bags annually. Nothing disrupted that habit until the government imposed a 33-cent-per-bag consumption tax. In no time, usage dropped by more than 90 percent

Doing the right thing isn’t such a hard thing at all. It’s just that sometimes we need a little nudge to get us started.