Wednesday, October 29, 2008

a method to the creative madness: part one

Ok, I think I've found the method article to end all method articles! Man! This thing is big, and indepth! In fact, I've broken it up into a three part piece! Whew! (And I had to take out all this extra spacing that for some crazy reason was included. ALL because I lust my readers! See, I'm a nice guy, I really am.) Enjoy!


by Sonja Gugajew

In today’s crowded marketplace of price wars, increasing costs and cut-throat competition, the cost of marketing is high indeed. Increasing pressure is being put on creative capital to break through the clutter. By offering a truly unique product experience communicated through an unorthodox marketing campaign, a small cleaning brand is using its creative clout to stand out. This article analyzes how Method Products Inc. is winning consumers’ hearts and minds through innovative design, a genuine do good philosophy and an integrated marketing communications approach.

Method Products Inc. is daring to be different and having fun doing it. With a burgeoning array of choices in the marketplace, an equally dizzying cacophony of noise in the media, rapidly declining attention spans, and resulting consumer apathy, it is no wonder why some have boldly proclaimed that branding is dead. How can brands compete when investing millions of dollars in advertising mediocre products with fierce competition no longer guarantees success?

Take the fragmented cleaning industry: a relatively flat $18 billion category dominated by giants like Procter & Gamble, Clorox and SC Johnson. For an upstart brand like Method Products Inc., carving out a presence in the commoditized and traditional household-cleaning product business was a tall order. Armed with creativity, consumer insight and an innovative product offering, however, Method Products introduces disruption in everything it does. To Method, disruption means remarkability in every aspect of its product experience: from eye-catching, minimalist packaging presented through innovative merchandising, to a genuine non-toxic philosophy communicated through irreverently fun advertising.

By combining these elements into an integrated marketing communications message focused around a philosophy of cool, environmentally guilt-free cleaning, Method has created an emotional connection with a growing cult-following of customers. It has managed to do so while becoming what Inc. magazine names the seventh fastest growing private company in the U.S. Who knew soap could be this fun?

In a category replete with price wars, “new and improved” stain removal claims and aggressive disinfectant messages, Method More Than Just Cleaning: Tapping the “Progressive Domestics” knew from the start that it could not compete on price and efficacy alone. For Method to succeed in this category, it had to do what no other brand had done before: reinvent the category by elevating the chore of cleaning into a fun, healthy experience. Fittingly, this insight came from two housemates who hated cleaning their house.

With Eric Ryan’s advertising background and Adam Lowry’s chemical engineering and environmental science expertise, the co-founders were a perfect duo to revolutionize the cleaning industry. From his marketing experience at such companies as General Motors, Ryan knew that advertising alone could not metamorphose an average commodity product into something greater. From his experience with Saturn’s design studio, he also learned about the power of design to capture consumers’ imaginations and transform a stagnant category. “We were trying to solve the brand’s problems through advertising, but the product experience was extremely flawed,” Ryan told Advertising Age’s Point magazine. “I felt the skills of account planning—being very consumer-centric, using consumers to look forward, not back—would be an amazing way to build a culture and company that could go around more traditional companies.”

By using this consumer-centric approach, Method discovered their target audience: a higherend, educated group of consumers they coined the “Progressive Domestics.” Unlike the housewife generation that preceded them, these modern consumers lead busy and active lives, experiment with many brands, and are increasingly health conscious and environmentally minded. They do not proclaim to be domestic goddesses, nor are they determined to obliterate every last trace of dirt. Cleaning no longer defines their identity; it plays only one part in their home design aesthetic.

The key is the emotional connection these consumers feel with their homes. Ryan explained to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Your house is this high-interest, high emotion place, but the products people used for it were just commodities. We were the first to treat cleaning as cool. The category treats it as a chore, and to a lot of people it is a chore—but it’s also therapeutic, ritualistic, and has a sense of purpose to it.” The products are also non-toxic, which is especially appealing to the healthconscious Method consumer. With Method products, consumers can ensure the safety of the home environment for themselves and their families without compromising their sense of style.


part two: tomorrow!

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