McCann London

Plant Drop
"Smart Plants"

Client: Plant Drop
Product: Plant Drop
Title: Smart Plants
Media: ecommerce
Country: UK
Date Of Campaign: 19 April 2023

Background: We all know that plants oxygenate the air, but little do people know that they also have the power to remove toxins too. The air inside our homes can be up to 5x more polluted than the air outside, with toxins coming off everyday items like paint, scented candles and cleaning products.Plants have air-purifying properties. This was proven in the 80s when NASA conducted research to see if plants could help clean the air for astronauts living in space. This data was declassified, but nobody has truly done anything with it. Many plant retailers advertise their plants as ‘air-purifying’ - but never go into specific detail about how plants can help.House plants have exploded in popularity in recent years, but this means that the plant market has become saturated. Plant Drop is an online plant shop, but they face stiff competition and exist in a highly competitive market with little differentiation. They needed a way to set themselves apart, steal market share and entice a new audience into the world of plants.

Idea: The NASA ‘Clean Air Study’ was conducted in 1989 and discovered that some everyday house plants had the ability of removing harmful toxins from the air. The study was declassified, however, for the average person it was impossible to decipher and understand. Partnering with the lead botanist at Oxford University, Chris Thorogood, we crunched the data, built upon the research, and reimagined it into something entirely new. Introducing SMART PLANTS: rebranding an existing range of houseplants as air-purifiers for the home. Inspired by the ‘Energy Rating System’ for household appliances, we created the ‘Pollutant Absorption System’ for houseplants. Complex NASA data detailing plant variants and the toxins they can help remove was distilled down into a simple key that allowed people better understand the benefits that houseplants could bring, giving plants deeper purpose and value. The design system fused together the design language of molecule structures with the visual aesthetic of plants and educated people about the 5 main toxins found in the home, which items emit them, and which ones each plant can help remove. For instance, the harmful chemical Benzene is often found in paint and cigarette smoke, whilst ammonia emanates from some cleaning products.The ‘Pollutant Absorption System’ changed the way consumers shopped for plants. Instead of buying plants based on looks, they now bought plants bespoke to their lifestyle. A new e-commerce tool reinvented the plant-shopping experience. A simple questionnaire about lifestyle served customers plants that would help create a healthy, pollutant free home and allowed us to effectively target consumers. For example, if they had recently painted or smoked, they could opt for the Red-edged Dracaena, to remove benzene from the air. Alternatively, if they had pets, they could buy the Weeping Fig as it removes xylene, a toxin given off by flea treatments.The system was displayed on stickers on pots and plant tags that were placed in the soil, as well as being integrated into the online buying process. And we transformed the product from humble house plant to Smart Plant – a tool in the fight against indoor air pollution.

Results: The Pollutant Absorption System democratised clean air data for the masses – breaking down thousands of data points into an easy-to-understand system. Consumers now had a better understanding about the toxins inside their homes and could now buy plants based on their lifestyle and living arrangements instead of just looks. The new system and increased understanding led people who used to buy just one plant, to buy multiple plants to offset the different toxins in their homes – toxins that they never even knew existed. Plant Drop saw a 64% spike in web traffic since the campaign launched, over 50% of customers buying more than one plant in the Smart Plant range.Plant Drop believe that everyone should have the right to breathe clean air. So the Pollutant Absorption System was made open-source and free to download online for other plant retailers to adopt and integrate into their own e-commerce sites.