There aren’t many people I know that get excited about cleaning, or for that matter, cleaning products – myself included. Cleaning is viewed pretty much universally as a chore, usually performed over the weekend, begrudgingly and sometimes just put off all together until a ‘more suitable moment’. The cleaning products we use are functional but aesthetically uninspiring, with symbols of lightning bolts, brash colours and cheap graphics.
Well this was all true until two twenty something entrepreneurs from Detroit stepped on the scene and attempted to inject some ‘va-va-voom’ into a stagnant and frankly dull industry. In 2001 Eric Ryan, ex ad man, and Adam Lowry, chemical engineer, joined forces and seized the opportunity to turn household cleaning from a chore into something fun. Their goal was to “create a line of environmentally friendly cleaning and personal care products that are safe for every home and everybody”. By all accounts they are well on their way, with a rapidly growing product line that ranges from general hand sanitizers and washing up liquids, to speciality floor and stainless steel cleaners. In 10 years they have managed to go from a two-person team to over 100 employees and outlets in America, France, Finland and the UK.
The secret of their mainstream appeal? First class design. Gone are the cliché symbols previously associated with green design and logos i.e. trees, the earth and leaves. In are beautifully designed teardrop shaped bottles and subtle classy branding. One blog even states “To be honest you wouldn’t mind leaving one of these out on your unit- much better looking than Domestos and you are showing off your eco-credentials!”.
Eric and Adam have also nailed it when it comes to the marketing. They have chosen to opt for a name such as Method which is much more proactive and mainstream than its competitors e.g. ‘Seventh Generation’ which sounds far more worthy and niche, only really appealing to the deep green consumer. Their first media campaign in 2010 took direct aim at their competitor’s laundry aids, which in their eyes feed unhealthy consumer ‘jug habits’. They ran cheeky ads with the copy ‘Say no to jugs’ and support a ‘jug-free America’. They also ran the fun ‘Share a shower’ social media campaign encouraging people to save water alongside T-shirts available on their websites with the slogan ‘Cleans like a mother’.
The products themselves aren’t too shabby either being 100% natural and 100% recyclable. By outperforming most of their competitors they have forced them to change and improve their own products and supply chains. All these attributes have lead to engaging the young professional consumer to be able to buy a product that not only adheres to their personal values but also projects a fun brand image they can relate to. I have to say that it’s got me much more excited about a cleaning brand than I ever thought possible!
Method is setting a new standard for the way business should be done. And with an annual turnover of $150 million, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow as A-list customers and an invitation from the Obama administration to advise them on new business models, you could say there is definitely a ‘method’ to their madness – sorry, I had to get that in somewhere.