We normally reserve start-up company coverage for Friday, but we wanted to be among the first to scoop the launch of Replenish – a new company with a much smarter way to distribute household cleaning products. The basic idea isn’t rocket science (see the video below): selling and distributing concentrated product is cheaper and greener than shipping water and extra plastic all over the country. The smart part comes from a very clever design.
Replenish offers consumers a reusable PET squirt bottle similar to the bottles they’re accustomed to using for many household cleaning products. The key difference is that the bottle is part of a system to which the user attaches smaller “pods” of concentrated liquid which are then diluted by adding water to the larger bottle. Better yet, each pod of concentrate can fill the larger bottle four times – meaning you get four times the cleaning solution at a bit more than the price of a single bottle of a competitor’s liquid. Sound complicated? Watch the video below…
What makes the product significant, and likely successful in my eyes is that it doesn’t preach “green.” The cleaning fluid itself is designed to be as innocuous as Method, Ecover, or Seventh Generation (though I’d invite a biologist or chemist to comment on that once the full ingredients are posted on their site). Where it differs from the usual “green” product is that, like Method, Replenish strives to use sexy design to move beyond any crunchy green stereotype to meet the desires of a more complicated and diverse consumer:
1) It appeals to the health conscious moms and dads who are worried about chemicals in the home.
2) It satisfies the basic financial needs of anyone looking to save a buck.
3) It meets the desires of the fashion conscious yuppie who just wants something trendy on the kitchen counter.
4) The gadget happy technological adopters will get a kick out of it as the concentrate mixes.
5) Naturally, it hits the heart of the LOHAS demographic as well.
6) It’s also just plain practical. Somehow I think that still counts.
But tradition is a stubborn thing…
The hard part will be convincing large numbers of consumers that buying pods instead of entire bottles is a socially desirable way to shop for cleaner. The clever design, featuring a visible and iconic measuring cup, is meant to “tell you what it does” – to essentially make the process visible, interesting, and self-contained. The pods also look good on the shelf – much more appealing than large jugs of concentrate or fizzy tablets which other CPG companies have tried in the past.
Hooking early adopters across many demographics will be Replenish’s initial marketing strategy before any widespread distribution For now, sales will be strictly online through partner Alice.com. With several utility patents on the books, the company also is well poised to deflect the inevitable copycats who could arise as adoption takes off.
Will mix-at-home concentrate become the standard? Both environment and economics are driving things in that direction. The missing element, cultural adoption, remains to be seen, but the design and marketing of Replenish might crack the code.