Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bottling customer experience

For a couple of years now, I've been editing a monthly feature on the strategy+business website named Author's Choice, in which one author introduces an excerpt from another author's book, but just got around to introducing one myself. It's from a really good new book by the co-founders of Method Products that explains how they built a successful consumer packaged goods company in one of the most competitive product niches - household cleansers. Here's the intro:

The best customer experiences tend to come from companies with major service components, like Disney and Ritz-Carlton. Their business models place them face-to-face with customers, and their fortunes rise and fall on their ability to provide compelling experiences, as Starbucks discovered a couple of years ago. But most product companies, especially those that don’t sell directly to end-users, don’t think quite as rigorously about customer experience.
Enter Method Products. Method is one of those delightfully quirky entrepreneurial stories. In the late 1990s, two 24-year-old guys — an ad man and a climate researcher — take off on a ski weekend and decide that the home cleaning products industry is ripe for a shakeup. Never mind that it’s a mature, relatively stagnant market dominated by powerful brand names like Procter & Gamble and the Clorox Company. Never mind that everybody else is starting e-businesses. Never mind that they are two 24-year-old guys on a ski weekend talking about cleaning products. By 2010, their privately held company is generating annual revenues somewhere north of US$200 million; it counts major retailers, including Target, Whole Foods, and Auchan, among its accounts; and the big dogs are tracking it.
How did Method do it? One way, as detailed in the excerpt below from the new book by Method cofounders Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, was by zeroing in on the abysmal experience associated with so many home cleansers, such as the eye-tearing, nose-burning, skin-irritating sensations that can transform a minor decision about who is going to clean the bathroom into a domestic negotiation of epic the excerpt here