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If you aim to make an impact in reducing plastic usage, you might want to start with yourself. During our journey in starting the Plastic Soup Nudge Unit so far, we came to realise how much plastic we were actually using on a daily basis. That’s when we decided that we should put our money where our mouths are and find ways for plastic free living ourselves. In this blog series, we will take you along on our journey to make the switch and substantiate this with behavioral insights.

This week, Kim will share her experience with Seepje, a brand that I now use to do my dishes and the cleaning in my house! 


The first encounter with Seepje

Having no dishwasher and a lot of dishes to do, I use a lot of dishwashing detergents. The first time I heard from Seepje was around march/april 2020. Seepje was one of the (lucky?) few scale-ups that did not get into trouble because of COVID-19. As a matter of fact, they were making extra hours to make sure there was enough soap in stock in every shop they were selling their products. That’s it. I just knew they sold hand soap, and I knew that they did it differently than all the other brands. 

And then, one day, when I was doing my groceries and was looking for dishwashing detergents, I saw the brand Seepje between the Drefts and Dubro bottles. I must admit that by starting the Plastic Soup Nudge Unit, I’m even more aware of the amount of plastic that we use in our household. And maybe that was in the back of my (unconscious) mind, because I decided then and there to give Seepje a try. Not because I knew a lot about the brand, not because they claim they use no plastics in the packaging of their products (they do actually), but because somewhere I had heard that they work environmentally friendly and I wanted to play my part. 


About the switch

When you live in the Netherlands, purchasing Seepje is quite easy. That’s because they managed to get their products into your local supermarket! Within a radius of 10 KM, I found multiple locations where their products are on the shelves. 

The ease of purchasing their products is super important when trying to make a sustainable behavioral change. Later in this blog I will share the behavioral science behind easiness. 

When looking at the shelves in the supermarket, Seepje’s products are noticeable because of their packaging. The shape of their bottles is different, the wraps around their bottles with the communication are different and yet, they still fit into our image of a bottle of dishwashing detergent. Our brain associates dishwashing detergent with the typical plastic bottle, and Seepje’s bottle fits that image, but still manages to stand out. 

It doesn’t take me more effort to buy a product of Seepje and the products still fit in my image of how they should look like. But what about the storage of the product? In our first ‘Put your money where your mouth is’ Dirkje wrote about storing the shampoo bars differently than storing a shampoo bottle in the bathroom, which could be a barrier for behavior change. With Seepje this should not be a barrier, because it does not need a different storage solution for their products. 

They look pretty much the same, you can store them the same. But do they actually work the same?


The product and it’s experience

The user experience with Seepje is no different than any other product I buy in the supermarkets. You just buy and consequently use it right? One thing that stands out is the cardboard wrap around the bottles. Seepje makes sure you feel good and green about your purchase. The fact that the wrap is made of cardboard already gives me the feeling that I’m doing a good job. After taking a look at the messaging at the  cardboard wrap, it tells me that this bottle consists of 97% recycled plastic. Now I feel super nice, eco-friendly and like a hero. THIS IS AWESOME!! 

Often when switching to a plastic free alternative there’s also a switch in user experience, but not with Seepje. In using the product, I experience no difference compared to the previous dishwashing detergents I used, which is a good thing! I chose the lime scent, which smells just as nice as any other detergent. The only thing I experience differently is that I now use more of the product than I did when using Dreft. However, I’m not under the impression that my bottle empties faster than with Dreft. 


Behavior change techniques

And now, the part of this blog that we believe is the most fun: behavior change techniques. 

When you want consumers to switch towards plastic free, you want them to change their behaviors. Just introducing your product isn’t going to cut it. You need to think about habits, the moment of decision making and how you can influence that decision. Not every customer will be intrinsically motivated to make a change towards green, or plastic free. So how do you attract the mass? 

Seepje did a really good job in putting themselves on the shelves at Albert Heijn, Etos and many more retailers. This way, I don’t have to put more effort in purchasing their products than I previously did when buying from the competition. Making the green decision is made super easy for me. This has to do with a psychological phenomenon we call the ‘law of least effort’. Basically this states that we humans, and therefore consumers, are pretty lazy. When action A costs me more effort than action B, chances are pretty high that I will perform action B. Seepje taps into this by being easily available at the moment I normally buy products that they offer. I don’t have to put in more effort when buying their product than buying from their competition. 

Next, as I described before, the usage and storage of their products does not take me more effort either. Out of intrinsic motivation I can be willing to do more effort for buying a plastic free or green alternative. But when the user experience sucks, I will not be motivated to choose this product again. Bad user experience therefore will not lead to sustainable behavior change. 


The next challenge for Seepje

Although the experience is very positive and the purchase and usage is similar to that of the competition, products of Seepje are in general more expensive than, less green, alternatives. In my case, I am intrinsically motivated to make a difference and “wealthy”enough to buy more expensive products in order to do so  (please don’t get me wrong, I remain a true Dutchie when it comes to sale and getting stuff for free). But this is not the case for every target group. Especially not for the target group who wants to have the most value for the least amount of money and does not have environmental impact as their highest priority. 

Therefore, the next challenge for Seepje would be to try and appeal to a larger group of consumers and become more mainstream. Instead of pushing behavioral change techniques and convincing people with these techniques to buy from Seepje, an interesting subject to investigate is why people don’t buy Seepje in the first place? What is holding them back? Is it the intention-behavior gap? Or because they know Dreft from tv commercials and their grandmother always used it? Or maybe because Seepje is still new for this target group and they don’t know if similar people were happy with the product? 

When you know what barriers hold specific customers/target groups back, you can make up strategies to lower or remove these barriers for your customers. Within these strategies, there are a lot of behavioral change techniques that can be used, that Seepje doesn’t use nowadays in their communication. 


In short 

Overall, Seepje offers greener products with the same ease of buying and using them. Additionally they make you feel happy and heroic about saving the environment. This positive feedback is something that will make the consumer more likely to purchase their products again. 

I am very curious about the future developments of Seepje. In the meantime, as environmental impact is high on my personal priority list, I will definitely continue to use their dishwasher detergent, and when there’s a 1+1 free offer at my local Albert Heijn, I’ll try their liquid detergents to wash my clothes with as well ;-). 


Overall evaluation: 

Easiness to switch: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The product itself: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer experience: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Use of behavior change techniques: ⭐⭐⭐