Case Study

Hennepin County

Raising awareness, spurring change

Hennepin County, the most populous in Minnesota, had long promoted reuse as an adjunct to reduction and recycling, but its Choose to Reuse program needed to be revamped to help encourage residents and secondhand retailers in meeting ambitious waste-reduction goals. Supervox partnered with Hennepin County to conduct wide-ranging market research, and we used those learnings to develop informative content and awareness campaigns across media and communication platforms to help reduce waste and keep usable goods in a circle of reuse.

Hennepin County Environment & Energy Department wanted to evolve its Choose to Reuse program to meet ambitious waste-reduction goals. An annual coupon book offering discounts at local secondhand retailers was diminishing in use by residents, with some bigger retailers no longer participating. Hennepin County hoped to gain a better understanding of consumer perceptions about buying used goods, and how best to encourage residents to consider purchasing used goods instead of new. Supervox worked with research partner Akerson Marketing Insights to conduct focus groups with county residents and phone interviews with secondhand retailers in the county.


Research showed that many residents believed buying used goods saved you money but didn’t equate it with reducing waste. Also, negative perceptions about used goods and secondhand retailers prevented some from wanting to shop used. Given this, Supervox realized the need to tell a powerful story and educate county residents on the environmental harm that comes with buying new goods, and how you can save money and reduce waste by purchasing used goods instead. Further, Supervox developed a plan to help local secondhand retailers improve their messaging and merchandising to enhance the shopping experience for customers.


We revised the county’s Choose to Reuse website to include factoids that show how “the future isn’t disposable” and every new item you purchase comes with a hidden price tag in terms of environmental harm. To combat this, we invited residents to “Join the Circle” and buy used over new (or rent or borrow versus buying at all), and donate unwanted items so that others might give them a second life. Joining the Circle of reuse helps you save money while saving the planet, and comes with a host of benefits, including discounts at participating retailers, exclusive shopping events, waste reduction tips sent to your email inbox, and participation in a community of like-minded people eager to save the planet. Participating retailers received tools to amplify our message and help support their business, including a Join the Circle door cling, posters and pamphlets on the program, plus invitations to learning events on a range of topics from merchandising to social media, as well as content and graphics they could use on their website and in their social channels.


Supervox partnered with LakeOne Digital to research SEO keywords and to create and publish numerous helpful resources and articles on reuse and waste reduction at the Choose to Reuse site. A paid social advertising campaign has also been getting the word out and driving traffic to the site. Membership in Join the Circle continues to grow, and member surveys show high satisfaction with the program. The Choose to Reuse site search rankings are continually improving, and email continues to perform well. Recent geofencing campaigns have demonstrated success driving traffic to local secondhand retailers, while outreach to influencers and the news media has helped to amplify our message.


Supervox dived right in to understanding our program mission and challenges in achieving our goals. They have helped us rebrand our program, fine tune our audience, expand our social media reach, and reach new partners.

Kristin Pierskalla

Waste Reduction & Reuse Sr. Analyst