How many times has this happened to you: – you arrive at the grocery store and realize that you have left your growing stack of reusable bags at home AGAIN, and short leaving a trail of loose carrots and dented tomato sauce cans leading to your door, you are forced to capitulate to the shame of plastic bags.

It’s not your fault. It’s all about triggers. This is just one of the theories in the bestselling book Contagious, Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger. The author contends that the strongest mental triggers reminding you to take your bags don’t occur until you get to the store – and by then it’s too late. If you want to remind people to bring bags, this activity should be related to (and triggered by) something at the beginning of the shopping experience. (Like making the list, for instance)

London Drugs recycling bagsSo how can this theory affect recycling uptake? Canadian retailer London Drugs has a great recycling program, taking back everything from TV’s and computers to CFL light bulbs and small appliances. So we thought, why not trigger the reminder to recycle (and visit LD) at the outset of the shopping trip?

Unicycle Creative designed a large, robust recycling bag, featuring animated characters that represent a wide variety of take-backs. There’s also a cheat-sheet on one side panel, and links to the London Drugs info site on the other.

The idea is that consumers will be reminded to take their recycling in to London Drugs, just as they prep for their shopping trip.

The bags (which contain recycled content and themselves are recyclable) have been rolled out over the course of the first quarter at London Drugs events and special occasions. So far, anecdotally, they have had a great visual impact.

So next time you have a reminder for people, consider the power of triggers, and focus on keeping them relevant and immediate to the heart of your audience and their stages of participation.

Oh, and if you want any illustrated triggers as well, let me know.

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