How Method is disrupting the monochrome cleaning scene through colour and design

‘Beautiful’ is not a word most would associate with cleaning products, particularly those with sustainable credentials.

But Method, the eco-friendly younger sister of fellow People Against Dirty label Ecover, is attempting to build a base of passionate brand loyalists by creating products that look good enough to display out of the cupboard, and by activating significantly below the line. It's a far cry from the many clinical products stacked in the average supermarket home aisle.

The brand was founded in San Francisco at the turn of the millennium, and entered the UK market in 2006. It’s this year, however, that Method has really ramped up its marketing activity, which aims to reflect the bright colours and youthful design of its bottles.

“Method was set up to make sustainable look desirable,” Clare Burke, Method’s UK country marketing manager told The Drum. “Before, when consumers were looking to buy sustainable products, they were having to make a compromise. [Our founders] wanted to create a brand that looked beautiful and was all about products that worked but looked and smelt amazing.

“It’s a category where there is such low involvement and engagement. Design felt like something that nobody was owning.”

While Method clearly takes its lack of toxic chemicals seriously (it employs a dedicated ‘green keeper’ and uses an internal scorecard to keep track of its sustainability levels), it’s not a USP that is shouted in consumers’ faces. Burke explained shoppers are often drawn to the bright colours and idiosyncratic designs initially, and when they realise the products are environmentally friendly, they convert into repeat customers and brand ambassadors.

“When people read the back of their products our sustainability voice comes through. I guess it’s all the softer touch points: social media, website and communications,” said Burke.

A colourful campaign

Since its launch in the UK the brand has prioritised distribution over any grand marketing plans. Yet this summer saw Method begin to “feed the top of the funnel” in order to expand brand awareness beyond the instore environment.

Working with brand experience agency Amplify, #themethodway campaign launched in June. The initiative hopes to translate the feel good look of Method’s cleaning products into a wider lifestyle positioning, combatting the rather depressing fact that – according to the brand’s own research - 51% of Brits don’t experience enough joy in their lives.

A series of ‘unexpected surprises’ were planned, such as a summer street mural in collaboration with artistic group The Outside Collective, and a nostalgic bubble station at British Summer Time and Big Feastival festivals.

Burke said of the campaign: “We were essentially trying to disrupt consumers out of cleaning autopilot. Consumers are shopping the cleaning aisles and going to what they know, so we’re trying to deliver our campaign in a bit of a different way.”

The latest colourful collaboration is with illustrator Johanna Basford, one of the artists behind the current adult colouring book craze. This partnership also crosses over into Method’s digital strategy, which is almost as below the line as its offline marketing: consumers can download three of Bashford’s illustrations from the brand’s website, print them off, colour them in and share their masterpieces on Facebook and Instagram.

Method may be relatively quiet in the digital realm for the time-being, however it intends to continue partnering with like minded, design-led influencers – collaborations that will no doubt spill into the online world as the continues to evolve.

“We’ve been the fastest growing in the cleaning category for the last two years - a category that’s in a slow decline - so we want to keep that up,” Burke said. “We’re partnering with key influencers and other brands and individuals that are trying to do what we’re trying to do – champion colour and beautiful design.

“We’re still very much focused on awareness and spreading the brand love.”

Katie Deighton

Katie Deighton is The Drum’s senior reporter - creative and video based in London. She produces, films, presents and edits the title’s editorial video output, including series such as On The Scene, Ad Breakers and Why I Left Advertising, and manages its coverage of the creative sector. She also reports on the intersection between politics and marketing, as well as the third sector and fashion.

All by Katie