Sustainable, Ethical Marketing Practices at Plaine Products

We try really, really hard at Plaine Products to walk the walk and talk the talk with our sustainability efforts. Our goal has always been to minimize single-use plastics and help others do the same. We’ve thoroughly researched every ingredient, every material, every single part of our business model. We do what we can to encourage people to ship our bottles back. We keep trying every year to minimize our carbon footprint, as seen in our sustainability reports.

But we also try really, really hard to practice sustainability in all parts of our business. Cradle to Cradle, for example, is a design framework that isn’t solely about the product itself, it’s also about the implementation of business products creating equal economic, social and ecological benefits. One of their taglines is “being good is good for business” – and we take this to heart with our marketing.

Here are a few general guidelines we’ve set at Plaine Products to ensure we have sustainable, ethical marketing practices that follow the golden rule.

No retargeting

Retargeting (also known as remarketing) is when a company follows you all across the Internet. For us, we’ve always viewed this as an invasion of privacy. It’s something we don’t ever want to subject our customers to, regardless of how much it might help with awareness.

If you don’t know what it is, retargeting is the magic of pixel tracking and cookies. Basically, a cookie latches on to an Internet user after they’ve viewed a certain website and then when you go to another site that’s within that ad network, it will then show you ads again for that product or site you already visited.

In theory, it could be argued that this is a very useful marketing tactic. It’s great for reminding customers, “Hey, come back and check out this thing you might’ve wanted!” Relevance is useful in marketing and since these people have visited the site and clearly shown interest, then we’re good, right?

But imagine going to a mall and walking by one of those vendors who sells perfume or lotion. It’s easy enough to keep walking when you say “no, thanks” and the sales-person will stay at their station as you walk on by. But retargeting means the sales person is following you from store to store, trying to convince you that you need their product. Which maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Except in this instance, it’s online and without your permission. And most people aren’t aware that it’s going on and how to say “please leave me alone, I don’t want your perfume already.”

It is neat to see how the marketing community has convinced themselves otherwise over the years. This post from 2015 shows how many marketers have told themselves it’s okay to participate in retargeting,

Key Takeaway: Retargeting doesn’t seem to faze the majority of consumers. When ads are targeted specifically enough, they can be regarded as helpful rather than intrusive.

We’ve grown month-over-month, year-over-year, since our inception in February, 2017. With no retargeting. It’s not a must-have.

No sweepstakes without vetting other companies

Recently, we received an offer to participate in sweepstakes with some big brands like Telefora, Uber, White House Black Market and others. It was an exciting opportunity. That we politely declined.

Whenever you see a sweepstakes or a giveaway that Plaine Products is participating in, we have meticulously vetted the partnering companies. If their mission isn’t in alignment with ours, if they perpetuate the waste of single-use plastics or if they aren’t truly in the circular economy – we don’t want to align ourselves with their brand.

Most of the time, when we partner with other companies, we have previously used their products and fallen in love with their stuff. Like Dropps and Pelacase, just to mention two companies we absolutely love. We were already using Dropps and had Pelacases for our phones before we started doing giveaways.

No direct mail

We deal with a ton of junk mail at our own homes that goes directly into the recycling. We’re never going to send direct mail to you as a customer or potential customer. It’s such a waste!

No flooding with emails

We also deal with a ton of junk email at our own homes that goes directly into our trash bins. We do have some automated campaigns through our email service provider to help welcome people to Plaine Products. But we don’t do anything subversive with opt-outs – if you opt-out of our emails, we will completely respect that wish. Some companies only allow you opt-out from one list at a time while they’ve secretly signed you up for 20 or 30 separate lists.

Several times, we’ve had vendors suggest that we email our customers more and we adamantly refuse. We send our monthly newsletter and every so often, we email everyone with a sale or specific news about a new product or scent. Our goal is to keep you in the loop but in a manageable way.

No list purchasing

On that note, we also do not participate in list selling. List purchasing is the act of buying (or “renting”) email addresses with specific qualities that match your target market. Essentially, as a business you can buy up a list of email addresses for 1,000 gardeners in New Hampshire over the age of 50 or 100,000 millennials in Seattle.

We’re proud to have grown our email list of customers and potential customers deliberately and intentionally over the years. If you have ever received an email from us, it is because you either:

  • signed up directly on our website
  • participated in a giveaway that we ran or contributed to
  • purchased something from us

That’s it. We don’t get email addresses any other way.

No pop-ups

We don’t have any pop-ups on our site. We don’t have entrance pop-ups asking for your email address, we don’t have any exit pop-ups making sure you don’t want to stick around, no spinning lottery wheels to get a new promo code – none of that.

Pop-ups annoy us and they probably annoy you too.

Not to mention that the man who invented pop-up ads ended up apologizing profusely for his creation years later.

Why does any of this matter?

Personally, I’ve been doing digital marketing for over a decade and as the primary person coordinating our marketing efforts, I’m ridiculously proud to be working with Lindsey and Ali and following the marketing ethics we’ve set for this business.

Plaine Products is a cruelty-free B corp that is not only trying to make the Earth a better place from an environmental perspective but from a business perspective too. I’m proud we’ve been able to succeed with sustainable, ethical marketing. Even though that has often meant bucking the current marketing trends.

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