Tuesday, June 24, 2008

making product shelves more appealing

Brand Critical has this to say about our favorite brand!

"I have to admit, shopping for household cleaners isn't one of the most exciting experiences a consumer will have. Visiting any discount retailer or grocery store, consumers will find the household cleaning goods category is littered with endless options, un-original products, boring packaging, and harsh chemical contents. Since there are so many products available and a high level of competition, brands struggle to differentiate themselves from competitors. And surprisingly, the industry and its products haven’t changed much since the 1950’s. The small changes brands have relied on to set themselves apart include different scents, lower price points and unique characteristics that enhance cleaning power (orange oil, oxygen bubbles, etc.). Unfortunately these changes don’t prevent retailer shelves from being cluttered and boring and products from appearing to be all the same. Customers wanting to purchase a household cleaner may tend just to grab the cheapest or most colorful product to avoid sorting through the disorder. They are probably thinking “the bottles look the same, so the products must be equivalent.”

But in the late '90's the household cleaning products category began to see some evolution. Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, realizing the stagnancy of the category, decided to create their own brand of cleaning products in 1999. Their brand – method - emerged as a clean and fresh alternative to regular household cleaners. Method attempted to change customer’s perceptions by having unique, stylish packaging, smelling pleasant, and being environmentally friendly. Looking at a shelf containing method products versus the competition, the consumer’s eye is instantly drawn to the freshly designed containers. The company’s strategy for disruptive packaging appears to be working since customers are snatching up their products and method was recently listed as one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S. And I am a big fan.

So how does method communicate it's brand image? Method’s key tag line is “people against dirty.” In other words, the brand wants customers to believe the current chemicals they use in their homes, might get rid of bacteria and dust, but leave behind toxic chemical residues. One of method’s print ads even reads “does my home have chemical dependency?” In this ad, a common spray bottle (i.e. common household cleanser) is cleverly shown in a brown paper bag with the top folded over like a bottle of booze. Comparing this image to the unsoiled, transparent method bottle makes the customer wonder how many toxins co currently reside in their home.

Method’s product packaging meets brand expectations through portraying an image of clean simplicity. Each Karim Rashid-styled bottle is organically shaped, completely transparent, contains bright fluids and has a simple label with crisp fonts. The rounded, slowly tapering curves of every bottle introduce a human element to the unfriendly designs of products past. Additionally, method’s color palette for each of its products complements its various scent offerings like pink grapefruit, almond, cucumber, lavender, and eucalyptus mint. Due to their packaging, method products convey thoughts of purity, safety, and freshness. The brand’s form language is consistent, and is carried across to their many products - laundry, specialty surface, dish, all-purpose, and hand and body. Although method’s products can be found in many of the same places as “ordinary” household cleaners (Target, Office Depot, CVS, Lowes, etc.), they are displayed on an entirely different shelf than their stagnant and conventional competitors. This display strategy further helps method stand out from the clutter.

So method's packaging strategy and brand image are "clearly" a winner...so how else could they innovate their packaging or product line-up? Regarding unique packaging, method’s overall strategy is effective and pleasing to the eye. However, they have not yet taken on the challenge of redesigning the sprayer/ nozzle head to further set themselves apart. My recommendation would be to carry their clean, minimalist theme on to the sprayer. An inspiration for this design could be the type of sprayer you would typically find at a modern kitchen sink. The shorter, more compact nose on the sprayer, slender neck, and reverse positioning of the pumping mechanism further drives the point that method products are uniquely different. Regarding product line-up, they are definitely headed in the right direction. They've moved from solely home cleaning products to skin care products as well as moving into Glade/Febreeze territory with their scented sprays, candles, oils, etc. They've also changed the packaging on their refills to become pouches that use "83% less plastic than a rigid PET bottle...(and) take less energy to produce." Way to go method. So...now I have to ask those of you reading this blog...are you converts? Are you "methodic" about your cleaning habits yet?"

1 comment:

steve parker said...

hmmm. I like the idea of a redesigned spray nozzle, but I'm having a hard time picturing their idea. I hope their air spray comes back soon with a sprayer like that. Method could use a similar sprayer for their bottles and air spray.

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