Unilever and Walmart in joint water saving campaign

A Unilever owned shampoo brand has teamed up with American retail giant Walmart as part of a new campaign to encourage consumers to save water in the shower.

According to Unilever, as its Suave shampoo brand is bought by almost half of American households – around 33 million. It therefore, has the potential to play a major role in the company’s target of halving greenhouse gases GHG by 2020 and Walmart’s ambition of cutting 20 million metric tonnes of GHG emissions by 2015.

As part of the ‘Turn off the Tap’ campaign, Walmart held an in-store promotion in June to market the water saving message, which resulted in promotional packs of Suave being sold out in three weeks.

During September 2011 Walmart shoppers were also offered $5 off the price of a Water Doctor water efficient shower head, to help them cut their energy bills and water use even further.

Research by Unilever has revealed that more than 40% of people would be willing to conserve water if they knew it would save money and help the environment.

It is anticipated that the initiative will help Unilever hit the water saving targets outlined in its ‘Sustainable Living Plan’, as Suave has been promoting the potential cost and CO2 emission savings of reducing water use in washing and showering in all US Walmart stores.

The campaign claims that that the average American family could save up to $100 and 3,200 gallons of water per year by turning off the water when shampooing and conditioning hair, while families could also save up to $150 and 4,600 gallons of water per year by shortening their shower time by two minutes.

Meanwhile, Unilever says it aims to reach 400 million people by 2020 with its messages, but adds that it still has many challenges to overcome.

In its plan it states: “Most of our GHG emissions come from the hot water needed to use our soaps, shower gels and shampoos. To achieve our goal we will have to provide consumers with products and tools that will enable them to use less water. We do not yet know how we will do this.

But we are clear that this is the biggest contribution we can make towards limiting temperature rise to two degrees and towards supporting the call for a more ambitious 80% reduction in global GHG emissions by 2050.”

Research to find out how successful Suave has been in persuading people to change their habits is now under way, but Walmart says plans are already in place to repeat the promotion.

Carys Matthews

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