Chic trash cans wear black bags

Marketplace Staff Nov 4, 2010

Chic trash cans wear black bags

Marketplace Staff Nov 4, 2010


KAI RYSSDAL: If you’ve taken out the kitchen trash lately, you may have considered the color of your garbage bags. Or you may not have. I mean, who cares what color your trash bag is?

The folks at Hefty sure do. They’re launching a whole new product next year hoping consumers are vested in the color of the bag they carry to the curb. And that color is black. After we read the story today in Ad Age, we called Hefty to ask ’em why they’re doing this, but they weren’t available.

So we’ve called Kit Yarrow. She teaches consumer behavior at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. Kate, good to talk to you.

KIT YARROW: You’re too kind.

RYSSDAL: So listen, do you care about the color of your trash bag?

YARROW: I actually kind of do.

RYSSDAL: Come on! Seriously?

YARROW: I wouldn’t spend more for a different colored trash bag. But I’ve got to say, if there’s a variety to choose from, I might go for the black.

RYSSDAL: Well, so Hefty’s tag line on this thing is, “Keeping garbage in the dark.” What might the appeal be?

YARROW: Well, you know, people do have issues with their garbage. There’s a lot of shame in waste. It’s untouchable, full of order, and a lot of revelations about what you’ve invited into your home. Plus a new layer of shame around environmental issues, so I think people do want to keep it into the dark. But mostly I think people are going to be attracted to those trash bags because they match a lot of the new decor in kitchens today.

RYSSDAL: Yeah, so I saw that. The whole stainless steel appliances versus the white appliances. So now black looks better with stainless steel — is that the deal?

YARROW: Yeah. And apparently even garbage looks better in black.

RYSSDAL: Do you think Hefty’s going to be able to convince people to make this switch. I mean, they’re risking a whole product line on this.

YARROW: You know, when you buy a trash bag you’re literally buying something to throw out. So given that, I don’t think people are going to get really wiggy about garbage bags. They’re not going to, I think, ever rise to the challenge of making this a big, huge conscious decision. I think trash bags are always going to be a fairly rote purchase. They’re going to be driven by price and familiarity above everything else. That said, this is something completely different. So maybe there will be a little more consciousness in the minds of consumers around what they’re buying. It probably will give them an advantage, although I think not a huge one.

RYSSDAL: So here we are. We’ve finally come full circle. We’re talking trash bag marketing on Marketplace. Kit Yarrow teaches consumer psychology at Golden Gate University up in San Francisco. Kit, thank you so much.

YARROW: My pleasure, Kai. Thank you.

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