At the 2019 Sustainable Brands Conference in Detroit—which also happens to fall on World Environment Day today—Olay announced the rollout of a program bringing environmentally friendly packaging to one of its best-selling products.
Starting this October through the end of the year, Olay will sell refillable pods for its Regenerist Whip Moisturizer. This cuts down the amount of packaging the brand will need to produce to sell the product in stores, as it’s currently sold in individual plastic jars. Each pod will contain a full jar’s worth of moisturizer to be placed into an empty jar.
The refillable pods are an innovation a year in the making. The idea came primarily from within P&G, Olay’s parent company, rather than from consumer demand, according to Anitra Marsh, P&G’s associate director of brand communications, global skin and personal care brands. The brand chose the Regenerist Whip to start because it was Olay’s No. 1 product in 2018, and because it’s aimed towards a consumer in their late-twenties or thirties who may want a heavier daily moisturizer, but not quite as heavy as Olay’s original Regenerist product.
“We know that millennial women are especially concerned about the environment,” said Marsh. “And increasingly so about the legacy and the footprint that they’re leaving as individuals, but also the footprint that brands are leaving. We wanted to empower them to make a choice as individuals that could be better for the environment.”
Olay went through several rounds of testing to make sure the pods would work no matter the climate or situation and that they were intuitive and easy for consumers to use, sans mess.
“Refills can be a little messy,” said Marsh. “But we wanted to make sure the experience was delightful and easy.”
Initially, Olay is rolling out the pods in a limited run in the U.S. and the U.K. to test out customer reaction and response. “This is a limited edition, so we have to wait and see how it does,” said Marsh. “But if it’s adopted at scale, it could dramatically reduce the amount of plastic waste in the skincare category.”
Marsh said that even with a limited run, she’s glad Olay is debuting this innovation.
“It’s about progress, not perfection,” she said. “A lot of times, it may take a few years to figure something out and have it be perfect. But if we can just get something in market that’s better, that allows us to learn and we can continue to iterate, and that’s what gets us to a better place from a sustainability standpoint.”