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Method

Superheroes who make cool products and happy homes

Sector: Futureproduct
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Method is the cleaning products that believe in being doing good whilst also iconic features and beautiful fragrances for your home. With attitude and ambition, they declared war on dirt.

methodAdam Lowry and Eric Ryan were childhood friends, who became (in their own words) “brainparents” of one of America’s fast growing consumer goods brands. Adam trained as a designer and marketer, whilst Eric studied chemical engineering. Method emerged out of their maddening frustration with cleaning products – poorly designed, environmental pollutants and many just didn’t work. They declared war on dirt, and dreamt of a cleaning world which was eco-friendly and non-toxic, stylish and exciting.

They started by mixing soap formulas in beer pitchers labelled “do not drink”.  In 2001 they got (slightly more) serious, and launched the Method brand as “people against dirty”, and declared themselves “superheroes” for seeking to rid the world of dirt. Adam’s passion was to produce cleaning products that people would be proud of, displayed like fragrance bottles, and smelt as good. Eric knew how to make them. In their own words, they “set out to save the world and create an entire line of home care products, gentler than a thousand puppy licks, able to detox a home in an afternoon.”

Mollie Stone, a Californian grocery store, was their first customer, stocking a range of cleaning sprays. They were good, but didn’t stand out. Packaging design, was their response, starting with an hourglass-shaped bottle of dish soap, and within a year they were being stocked in Target supermarkets across the nation. By 2003, their designer Karim Rashid started winning awards, particularly for his tear-drop bottle of hand wash.

They articulated their distinctive attitude as “the Humanifesto” which includes “we look at the world through bright-green colored glasses”, “to get out and fight dirty, take deep, satisfyin breaths all day and sleep easy at night”, “We’re entranced by shiny objects like clean dnner plates, floors you could eat off, nobel peace prixes and tasteful public scultures”, and “above all we believe dirty, in all its slimy, smoggy, toxix, disgusting incarnations, is public enemy number one”.

Within four years, the brand was ready to go international – launching in Canada and UK, now also with a concentrated laundry liquid. They focused on their environmental credentials, winning awards from PeTA and ensuring their bottles were 100% biodegradeable. Growth followed rapidly, as did their product range. Inc Magazine named Method one of the fastest growing private companies in the USA.

A year later, Adam and Eric set up B Corporation, a non-profit network of organisations, collectively committed to “solving the big social and environmental challenges through the power of business”. Alongside Method, they attracted brands as diverse as Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy and 750 others to join, sharing best practices and resources, creating a standard certification and a shared platform for promoting a better way to do business.

Pivot points for Method in “changing the game” of cleaning products were:

  • Think: Establishing a market for “better” cleaning products, cool and caring
  • Design: Innovating better products and packaging, emotional. beautiful for home
  • Impact: Balancing doing good for the environment with long-term financial success
  • Amplify: Getting together with the largest competitor to take on the world

Revenues grew to over $100 million by 2012, although the great impact on the market has been the imitation and adoption of more caring cleaning products by large competitors.

Later that year, Method was acquired by similarly sized Ecover, the Belgian manufacturer of green cleaning products, although continuing to operate as a separate brand. The two brands seek the economies of scale to improve profitability in a market where there is still little scope to charge a premium, and also to reciprocate each other’s distribution networks across Europe and North America.

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