When I read this New York Times article about the new campaign launched by natural laundry detergents brand Method, I couldn’t help but think about how much sense this approach to marketing “green” really made.
It’s relatively easy to create a base of support for your product if you market goods that easily fit a niche where buyers don’t need any sell-in. For a brand like Method, that base starts with those shoppers who require no convincing about the importance of detergents–no matter the additional purchase price–that are as gentle on the planet as they are on the fibers they clean and the human skin those fibers ultimately clothe.
But to expand beyond that initial base of pre-seeded believers, a brand like Method needs to be careful. If it works too hard to differentiate itself by educating potential buyers about the environmental impact of doing the laundry, it’ll end up getting ignored by those people it has alienated. And yet if it doesn’t find a clever way to speak to its core strengths–so closely tied to sustainability and a “green” way of doing things–it becomes a “me-too” commodity in a detergent category already owned by P&G.
Method’s solution: Position the “less waste is better” message not within the context of being “granola-crunchy,” but instead as, simply, being “clean.” Those of us who have been around long enough understand the campaign’s allusions to the anti-drug campaigns of the 1980s. But the campaign’s humorous tone will work just fine for those who haven’t: there’s no arguing against the universal truth of the sticky blue jug cap.