A Social AS-IS Observation On The Retail-to-Consumer Package-Bags Relationship

So I am currently doing market research on how to reduce plastic-bag waste, and the ease-of-adoption of environmentally friendly alternatives in Accra, Ghana.

Now I’m required to use the Political Economical Social Technological Environmental and Legal tool fondly called PESTEL to understand this new market.

My key area of focus happens to be the social aspect, so for my qualitative market research, I decided to try out a social experiment and naturally observe the current AS-IS scenario already in existence in Accra.

The article aims to invite another inquisitive entrepreneur to use this qualitative social experiment as a quantitative social market research into understanding the research topic I mentioned above. And this entrepreneur should in-turn provide another social-experimental data that would be relevant to another inquisitive entrepreneur.

My findings

I previously identified 6 stakeholders from my quantitative market research namely:

Stakeholders

1. Governmental organizations

2. Nongovernmental organizations

3. Waste collection businesses [startups]

4. Plastic recycling facilities

5. Low-middle income retailers/consumers

6. Middle-high income retailers/consumers

The retail-consumer relationship

For this social experiment, I broke down this relation into the two key parties that need to be present for this relationship to take place.

And they are:

· Middle-high income product retailers

· Middle-high income consumers

Social experiment Location:

A&C Mall is a privately owned business that provides mixed-use retail shopping centers in Ghana. And I chose this as my location for my social experiment.

Observation and ethnography focus areas:

· Plastic-bag functionality for retailers

· Plastic-bag functionality for consumers

· Plastic-bag sentimentality from the consumer’s perspective

· Package-bag motivations for functionality [aesthetics] from the retailers perspective

· Package-bag motivations for functionality [aesthetics] from the consumer’s perspective

· Package-bag purchase sizes in-relation to types of retailers

Observation from the middle-high income product retailers:

Retailer type: grocery store

Plastic-bags are used by grocery-stores to package items purchased by customers from their store; to provide the customers with ease-of-carriage of these items out of their store and to their various locations. And ease-of-carriage is this retailer’s sole functional purpose of offering these plastic-bags to their customers. For a grocery-store aesthetic does not play a huge role in their motivation for using the package-bags, rather their motivation is more about having various sizes of their package-bags to package their products.

Retailer type: pharmacy store

Plastic-bags and paper-bags are used by pharmacies to package medications and light-weight cosmetic/lifestyle items purchased by customers from their store to provide their customers with a handy medicine-bag type storage-ease. And safety and storage is this retailer’s sole functional purpose of offering these package-bags to their customers. For a pharmacy, aesthetic does not play a huge role in their motivation for using the package-bags rather their motivation is more about the thickness of their package-bags in-terms of after-purchase storage.

Retailer type: clothing and jewelry retailer

For clothing & jewelry retailers; their use of plastic-bags is almost non-existent, which could also mean that the more established the brand becomes; their need for plastic-bags drops. And they provide their customers with a variety of paper package-bag options that resembles a fashion accessory or gift-box; to proudly showcase the customer’s spending-power. And the customer’s purchasing power is this retailer’s sole functional purpose of offering these plastic-bags to their customers. For clothing & jewelry store their aesthetics; specifically in the area of promotional branding plays a huge role in their motivation for using the package-bags.

Observation from the middle-high income customers:

Retail customer persona groups:

a) Those that arrived with their means of transportation to the retail stores

b) Those that arrived without their means of transportation to the retail stores.

Retail customer type/retail section: Type A [grocery store]

Customers seem indifferent and in a hurry to make payment for the purchased item from the grocery store, focusing more in search of a cashier with fewer people on her queue or who seems the most efficient in getting them out of the store. There is a sense of urgency in getting over with the payment-phase [package-phase] so less attention is giving to the packaging option type offered by the store.

Because this customer only has to consider a 10-minute walk to their vehicle to drop all their purchased items; he is less sentimental about the package-bag option offered, pays little attention to its functionality and has no aesthetic attachment to the plastic-bags.

Retail customer type/retail section: Type A [pharmacy store]

Customers seem worried and hopeful to get the pharmacists’ full attention; in search of a solution; and takes time to make a purchase; just-in-case they forget/remember to purchase another item while they are still in the store.

There is a sense of calm in going-over the payment-phase [package phase]; as it requires the customer to pay full attention to the items purchased along with the medication-advice attached to each item.

Because this customer already plans to guard the items in this package-bag; by placing it close to him in his waiting vehicle; he is sentimental about the package-bag option offered, pays close attention to its functionality, but has no aesthetic attachment to the plastic-bags.

Retail customer type/retail section: Type A [clothing store]

Customers seem curious and excited to look around the store, and takes time to make a purchase; enjoying the attention that the store-keeper is showering them with; as they haggle prices and chat over what else to purchase on their next visit.

There is a form of customer-retailer loyalty bonding that occurs during the payment-phase [package-phase]; which could affect the retailers’ package option to suit the customer’s specific preference from the different package-options available

Because this customer already plans to show off their purchased item; via social media; from the store to their waiting vehicle and usage, he is sentimental about the package-bag option offered, pays close attention to its functionality, and forms an aesthetic attachment to the package-bags.

Retail customer type/retail section: Type B [grocery store]

Customers seem concerned but also in a hurry to make payment for the purchased item from the grocery store, focusing more in search of a cashier with fewer people on her queue or who seems the most efficient in getting them out of the store. There is no sense of urgency in getting over with the payment-phase [package-phase]; as all items must be properly accounted for and packaged properly, so a lot of attention is giving to the packaging option type offered by the store.

Because this customer has to consider their means of transportation to their location, he is very sentimental about the package-bag option offered, pays close attention to its functionality/durability, but has no aesthetic attachment to the plastic-bags.

Retail customer type/retail section: Type B [pharmacy store]

Customers seem worried and hopeful to get the pharmacists’ full attention; in search of a solution; and takes time to make a purchase; just-in-case they forget/remember to purchase another item while they are still in the store.

There is a sense of calm in going-over the payment-phase [package phase]; as it requires the customer to pay full attention to the items purchased along with the medication-advice attached to each item.

Because this customer already plans to guard the items in this package-bag; by sealing it securely in their bags as they seek the next means of transportation he is sentimental about the package-bag option offered, pays close attention to its functionality, and has a little aesthetic attachment to the package-bags.

Retail customer type/retail section: Type B [clothing store]

Customers seem curious and excited to look around the store; while still conscious about the time it takes to make a purchase; the customer still enjoys any attention given to him by the store-keeper; as a form of customer-retailer loyalty-bonding that occurs during the payment-phase [package-phase].

And he is sentimental about the package-bag option offered, pays close attention to its functionality, and forms an aesthetic attachment to the package-bags; as he considers his money well spent.

Now you know what I know, the only question I have for you is: were you able to find a market need?

If you did, then you’re just the person this article was intended to reach, now ideate as many times as you can; till you find a sustainable alternative.

To those that didn’t see it the first time, then scroll up and read again.

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uche orjinta

uche orjinta

Chemical engineering graduate, entrepreneur (self-employed; innovation & Product M consultant, business developer, Creative writer & UX designer).