Pure Beauty

Beauty recycling schemes are now vital to brand loyalty – and retailers are missing out

By Amanda Pauley | Published: 7-Mar-2023

With consumers taking advantage of the rewards associated with drop-off your empties initiatives, is this the way to attract shoppers going forward?

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With UK shoppers embracing more sustainable buying habits than ever before, in-store beauty recycling schemes could be the solution to securing, and maintaining, customer loyalty – in 2023 and beyond. 

As the industry continues to tackle its ongoing problem with hard-to-recycle cosmetics, in-store ‘drop-off your empties’ schemes by retailers – where empty beauty items are sorted by material type before being recycled or repurposed – are becoming more mainstream.

UK retail giants such as Boots, Harrods, Deciem and Space NK all have initiatives that enable shoppers to drop-off cosmetic packaging into recycling boxes, offering discounts and extra points to encourage customers to take part. 

It is a timely move when 45% of UK beauty shoppers are interested in returning packaging if they can take part in a reward system, according to industry analyst Mintel. 

It takes around two months to create a new habit with a consumer
– Karl Taylor, Sales Director at Loyalty Works

Meanwhile, 84% of people globally are more inclined to buy from a brand whose values align with their own, found e-commerce marketing platform Yotpo, which means tapping into the eco-conscious consumer could be an easy win.

“Recycling can be a key driver of loyalty because it shows your shoppers that you care about the same causes and values that they do,” says Fiona Stevens, Director of Marketing at LoyaltyLion, an ecommerce customer loyalty and engagement platform. 

“But how effective these schemes are currently at driving loyalty is more of a question mark because I am not sure anyone has got it 100% right.” 

Deciem is one of many retailers offering 'drop off your empties' boxes in store

Deciem is one of many retailers offering 'drop off your empties' boxes in store

At the moment, only a fraction of beauty retailers are transparent about the data behind their recycling schemes. Luxury brand L’Occitane, for example, is an anomaly when it boasts that 70,000 items were recycled at its stores last year – and there is no wider data available about how schemes can increase customer loyalty in general. 

Fiona Glen, Director of Projects at beauty branding consultancy The Red Tree, believes it is because the schemes are still in their infancy. 

“I think it is a pretty small percentage of people whose retailer loyalty is being driven by that recyclability element,” she says. 

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