Contact : Grégoire Baissas de Chastenet, co-founder of Pousse Pousse
Location : Perpignan
Sector : Sales and services
Date of ceéation : 2017 (gardening kit) – May 2018 (box)
Date de rencontre : 25 Juin 2020
Maturity of the project : After 3 years of existence, the project is well established, but there is still development to be done to continue to increase brand awareness (particularly on social networks), in parallel with the development of the offer. In June 2020 they were 7, after starting at 3, and were looking to recruit.
A zero-waste box that’s fun and eco-friendly.
From gardening to zero waste
Carried by 3 childhood friends, Grégoire, Louis and Romain, Pousse Pousse is a project that first and foremost aims to bring city dwellers in need of greenery closer to nature. In 2017, the “Haut-Potager” was born, a first concept of ecological, aesthetic and above all autonomous planter. The planter was selected to participate in the Lisbon Web Summit that same year and attracted the attention of many investors. What stands out: the potential of the kits and the path towards zero waste, all in a playful way.
The project will thus evolve into a monthly Pousse Pousse box, democratizing gardening without taking the cabbage. After inventing a first innovative container with the planter, the 3 friends now want to offer quality content delivered each month in a Pousse Pousse branded box.
A survey on subscribers’ opinions about the gardening boxes will then direct them in the summer of 2019 to a box containing a DIY (Do It Yourself) kit of cleaning products. The concept was very popular, which helped to transform the offer of the boxes further towards zero waste, beyond gardening.
– 50,000 subscribers on Instagram
– Up to 6 products in one box
– 7 employees
– Turnover: around €400,000 in 2019
At Pousse Pousse, a drastic selection is applied to suppliers (many controls, especially on finished products coming from abroad). The products purchased are selected to have if possible and at most the organic certification and a French or Spanish origin (100% of suppliers are French, 80% of raw materials are of French origin and 100% of raw materials for DIY kits are French). On foreign products, decent conditions are required, no intensive cultivation, a majority of arrivals by train, etc. but they do not yet have a purchasing charter.
In terms of the type of raw materials, Pousse Pousse has also made the choice of recycled materials for certain products (use of geotextile made from recycled bottles for planters).
An approach to reduce supplier packaging has also been implemented for cleaning products (request for bulk and non-overpackaged products from the supplier).
The choice of products is thus oriented towards respect for the environment, but also for people. An example would be the choice of partnership with Ohlala Paris, which employs disabled people to provide the cotton fabric for beeswrap.
We are not talking here about a single product but about all the boxes where the environmental impact is observed at all stages of the life cycle of the products that make up the boxes.
The products are chosen at the source to be more sustainable (see sustainable procurement).
At the transformation level, eco-design was important for the DIY kits. In the choice of ingredients, it was necessary to eliminate the surplus of chemical products, reduce the number of different ingredients, and adopt natural products that were not harmful to the environment. In the recipes, are present mainly active ingredients and it is the consumer who adds the water (avoids transport and storage of water, e.g. from the laundry kit). As far as packaging is concerned, the aim is to eliminate plastic, to favor reuse with the container which becomes the content of the finished product assembled by the subscriber (e.g. lip balm).
In the packaging, it was chosen not to flock the boxes so that they could be reused as second-hand cardboard (vinted packaging for example), with the appropriate awareness of subscribers.
The carbon balance of the transport is offset thanks to partners.
Thought has also been given to the end of product life, with the choice of products/packaging that is as recyclable as possible and as biodegradable or compostable as possible.
Subscribers make the choice of a more ecological consumption with the Pousse Pousse boxes. Pousse Pousse solicits the commitment of subscribers by getting them to take the plunge thanks to the simplicity and playfulness of the boxes.
Each monthly box is designed to be fun and simple, to allow subscribers to access zero waste without getting into trouble.
The boxes contain up to 5-6 different products with at least one DIY kit.
The themes of the boxes vary from gardening, cosmetics, maintenance, kitchen, bathroom, according to the seasons and desires. A new theme emerges every month, and may even follow the regulations: in the January 2020 box was bamboo cutlery, in prevention of the ban on single-use plastics.
The typical profile of subscribers corresponds to female customers, living in a large urban area and between the ages of 25 and 35.
Pousse Pousse has many different suppliers to meet their needs: 3-4 suppliers of Raw Materials (100% of the suppliers and 80% of the raw materials are French), 3 suppliers of containers, several of packaging, 3-4 suppliers of finished products, 2 cardboard makers.
A great deal of attention is paid to the quality of the products supplied (particularly in terms of ecology), organic when possible, proximity to French or Spanish products (they preferred Epsom salt from Madrid rather than salt from the north of France for example), etc. This part is further developed in the paragraph of the Sustainable Supply Pillar of the Circular Economy.
These choices constitute additional constraints, the extra cost of which is passed on to the price of the box, but remain in line with the values of the company and its product offering.
In the spirit of the innovative box, the boxes are designed to be in response to the real needs of the subscribers in terms of the different products (eliminate excess chemicals, plastic, etc.). R&D for DIY recipes must also respond to consumers’ desire for change, thanks to pedagogy and playfulness, without making the activity too time-consuming, at the risk of demotivating subscribers.
R&D therefore chooses a limited number of active ingredients with a pre-defined quantity to send subscribers an effective kit.
To meet the needs of consumers who would not necessarily have the time and motivation to make their own products repeatedly (with the complacency of a single DIY experience, just for the playful and reassuring side), Pousse Pousse also wants to develop its range of finished products. This by using its expertise on recipes and by keeping the elimination of plastic and chemicals.
The subscriptions offered are monthly, quarterly or half-yearly (with a small gift), at 19,90€/month per box.
It is proposed to the customers to subscribe for themselves or to offer the boxes, a system that works very well especially at Christmas where 50% of the gift cards of the year are bought.
With an average value of 40€ in the shops, each box is an economic advantage for the subscribers.
The majority of Pousse Pousse’s turnover relates to subscriptions but they would like to develop the online store more.
Due to the fact that the cost of the kit is often higher than the cost of the finished product, some kits are offered in miniature in the box as a test and can be purchased in large on the platform if the subscriber is convinced.
Pousse Pousse is a start-up with many competitors in the zero waste sector. Its advantage: centralize all products under the same Pousse Pousse brand name and develop fun boxes to attract consumers.
In the air of time, social networks are a showcase and it is a major axis of development for this brand (they have more than 50,000 subscribers on instagram).
They have 4 customer activation levers (the first 2 are more traditional, the last 2 are more current):
– Mailing and newsletter
– Word-of-mouth and customer satisfaction on their website thanks to Trustpilot reviews
– They hire 20-30 influencers / month to give visibility to the brand, through a remuneration or by offering them a box.
– Advertising on social networks: the best customer acquisition leverage, with a major acquisition during the chestnut tree season, particularly in December with the arrival of the holiday season.
Pousse Pousse is fundamentally committed to sustainable development and the environment.
To offset the carbon footprint of the transport of the boxes across France, which is a source of negative emissions for the environment (unlike local distribution), Pousse Pousse has formed a partnership with “Tree-Nation”, an organization that plants a tree for each box sent. They also compensate for the last km of transport with La Poste.
Pousse Pousse is a member of 1% for the Planet, which means that the company donates 1% of its turnover to associations contributing to the preservation of the environment.
Pousse Pousse’s website is labeled a CO2 neutral website, to offset the emissions emitted by its use.
More generally, Pousse Pousse is engaged in its procurement process but also in its design where everything is thought around the products, recipes, packaging to be more respectful of the planet (see paragraph sustainable procurement and eco-design pillars of the circular economy).
For subscribers receiving the boxes, there is an economic advantage in choosing a box whose price is half the market value.
As soon as the boxes were launched, Pousse Pousse collaborated with the ESAT (Etablissement et Service d’Aide par le Travail) of Perpignan, which has about thirty disabled employees. Before reaching 1800 boxes per month, 100% of the assembly was done by them. Beyond that, the preparation and the cash flow that would have had to be advanced to ensure all this volume was too important. Today, ESAT is involved in 40% of product interventions. With the increase in subscriptions, this percentage nevertheless seems destined to be reduced as Pousse Pousse develops, the rest being managed by their Spanish logistician.
The 3 founders of the start-up are highly complementary (supply and purchasing management + communication, logistics + after-sales service + BtoB, corporate strategy and finance), thus ensuring the success of the entrepreneurial adventure by covering all the important dimensions of business management.
Thanks to three investors, the start-up was able to grow and increase its visibility before being profitable, with the aim of eventually achieving economies of scale. This initial investment was therefore necessary to reach profitability in the long term and ensure the development of Pousse Pousse.
The objective of Pousse Pousse is to gain more notoriety to increase its volumes while keeping in quality, in an eco-responsible approach. They wish to develop the online sale of finished products, as well as offer their box outside of subscription to resellers partners and concept stores. In order to develop their R&D, particularly on the recipes of DIY products, they are considering a partnership with a research laboratory. In order to further enhance the value of their quality approach in procurement, a purchasing charter could be formalized. To obtain more development resources, a fundraising campaign is underway. To further develop their social responsibility, Pousse Pousse is considering the idea of animations in schools to raise awareness of zero waste.
In a market of ecological alternatives to everyday products that is becoming highly competitive and not always accessible, Pousse Pousse has managed to stand out by creating a concept that centralizes and democratizes ecological practices in a playful way, with adapted communication.
Pousse Pousse has been able to develop its visibility by using social networks, a fundamental distribution channel today.
With a strong desire to allow its subscribers to “do good to the planet”, Pousse Pousse Pousse has taken up the challenge to make ecological products more accessible, particularly through its DIY kits.
However, we note two limitations to the box system, despite its advantages.
By definition of a monthly box composed of various products, the operation is based on ordering the products separately from the different suppliers, then receiving and repackaging them before sending the boxes individually to the subscribers. This makes it a complex logistics system with large movements and unfortunately the associated overpacking.
A second limitation is the need to offer new products to be sent to subscribers every month, which can generate unnecessary consumption and create an accumulation of products that are little used in practice. On some products and depending on the subscribers, this can lead to a lower environmental benefit in practice compared to the environmental cost of production, transport and end-of-life management of the product.
An advantage of this system, on the other hand, is the possibility of changing subscribers’ consumption patterns by introducing them to products they would not have been interested in without the boxes.