A Method to Design Madness

method_home.jpgIt’s no surprise that Adam Lowry, Co-Founder & Chief Greenskeeper at Method was at hit at Greener by Design in San Francisco. Method products have shown mainstream consumers that sustainable products can be beautiful, cost competitive, and effective. What was most interesting was Lowry’s coverage of Method’s own design process, and the challenges they face in product development.
On Staying Ahead of the Curve
Method has had tremendous success in a highly competitive market. The company thrives with its robust, innovative product pipeline, which allows it to stay one step ahead of its behemoth competitors, innovating as they go. Method’s first invention was concentrated liquid soap– packing a big amount of cleaning power into a little bottle. Now that every laundry soapmaker has moved into the space with their own concentrated offering, Method is on to its next big innovation…

People Against DirtyOn the Product Pipeline
Next up — Method looks to take the soap out of the laundry all together. This might seem counter intuitive for a cleaning product. But, this company is different. First and foremost, Method is people against dirty– which you’ll note, is a slogan that doesn’t directly speak of bubbled products. If things can be made clean without the use of soap, Method is all for it. This product is a redesign of the washing machine designed to make clothes cleaner without cleaning solutions.
Method’s second plan for dematerialization is to get rid of its bottles by having refill stations in the stores. The company is currently testing this service in select Whole Foods. While Lowry notes that this model has challenges (loss of real estate on store shelves, training employees to maintain the refilling stations), it also presents tremendous opportunity for Method because the company can design bottles to last, more beautiful and durable than the ones they design now for disposal.
On Bringing the Customer Along
Lowry notes that a key component of Method’s work is to teach their customers about new ways to clean. First they had to get people used to washing their clothes with a tiny cap of detergent; now that people have passed the “does this really get my clothes clean” barrier, Method has plans to inform and excite about reusable containers and new ways to clean. In Lowry’s words, one innovation gives you license for the next. The company can innovate further ahead than the consumer will accept. Each small change allows another, but Method is focused on keeping the customer happy and comfortable. Customers should never have to sacrifice for green or innovative products– its a priority that their experience be positive.
On Systems Thinking
Along with innovation in consumer products, Method has had to innovate throughout the supply chain. They have developed recyclable packaging for their baby wipes, but discovered that it was rarely being recycled because the packaging closely resembled potato chip packaging. Their solution? Send education packs out to municipal recycling facilities to let them know about this unlikely source for recyclable materials.
Method has set the design innovation bar high. It’s no wonder they are the company to beat for turning a traditional business model into a sustainable one. With pretty packaging to boot!

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

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