Background and challenges:

Taking on the giants who put the soap in soap opera

Fourteen years ago method’s founders set out to change the world by creating beautiful cleaning products that are as kind to the planet as they are tough on dirt. With a successful line of home cleaning, air care, and hand products in-market, in 2010, they put a new category in their sights to further diversify their product mix: laundry detergent.

However, taking on the pioneers of liquid detergent like Procter & Gamble (P&G) was going to be akin to getting out a pinot noir wine stain from a white dupioni silk dress; brutal. P&G not only changed the chemistry of cleaning clothes in the 1930s - they also developed a detergent in the 1940s that is still the market leader today representing $1.26B in revenue. You may know it. It’s called Tide.

But it’s not just Tide that method had to worry about. There were other established household names such as Gain and All with media spends in the hundreds of millions  - as opposed to method’s pan-product annual “highly concentrated” media budget of… well, nowhere near that much.

Green products spending a whole helluva lot of green

In addition to the good ol’ detergent standbys, there were a mountain of eco and quasi-eco companies such as Seventh Generation, Honest Company, Green Works and Mrs. Meyers all upping their game in the space. While seemingly niche brands, many of these companies are actually owned by the world’s consumer packaged goods giants (Clorox, S.C. Johnson & Son, etc.) and as a result, they leverage the marketing firepower of a behemoth while appearing to the consumer as indie.

Shifting loyalties

To add to our media budget woes, we also had deeply entrenched shopping behaviors to contend with. Research shows buying laundry detergent is heavily habitual. Consumers tend to have “their brand” and stick with it, month after month, year after year, despite acquiring an abundance of pink-toned “white” t-shirts. A 2015 Mintel report showed that nearly 40% of shoppers buy the same detergent time after time. Obviously, enticing consumers to switch from their good ‘ol standby to an emerging brand was going to be arduous.

Green products spending a whole helluva lot of green

What’s more is, there have been a mountain of eco and quasi-eco companies such as Seventh Generation, Honest Company, Green Works and Mrs. Meyers all upping their game in the space. While seemingly niche brands, many of these companies are actually owned by the world’s consumer packaged goods giants (Clorox, S.C. Johnson & Son, etc.) and as a result, they leverage the marketing firepower of a behemoth while appearing to the consumer as indie.

Tailoring to market needs

Considering all the aforementioned market challenges, how did method carve out a niche all of their own that would suite the budgets they had access to? Say hello to 4x, naturally derived cleaning power in a small (but not too small) recyclable bottle that fights tough dirt and stains so your whites stay white and your colors stay bright. Not to mention the stylish clear packaging that would bring the method ‘rainbow’ to supermarket shelves creating a disruptive packaging environment at point of purchase. It was then that the agency was hired to truly introduce this product to the market.

So how can method gain widespread adoption for their new 4x detergent when up against the world’s largest CPG players and their gigantic marketing budgets in a product category that is rife with habitual purchases?