consumer goods

Reviewed: The Method Method

It seems like every startup that finds a bit of success grows convinced its culture and genesis myth are special and need to be shared with the world. They're not.

CB_method

Photo: Natalie Castellino

THE METHOD METHOD: 7 Obsessions that Helped Our Scrappy Start-Up Turn an Industry Upside Down
(Portfolio Penguin)
Eric Ryan & Adam Lowry

It seems lately like every startup that finds a bit of success grows convinced its culture and genesis myth are special and need to be shared with the world. They’re not, and—despite the recent proliferation of scrappy-upstart-with-quirky-outlook-on-business books—they don’t. That said, this manual from San Francisco–based green cleaning supplies maker Method Products rewards more than most of its peers—and not just because the book is informed by the company’s enthusiasm for design. (It famously commissioned the star Canadian designer Karim Rashid to create the bottle for one of its first products.) Method’s founders have insights to offer beyond sustainability and aesthetics.

They’ve contended with a changing retail landscape that now presents severe barriers to entry, due to hypercompetition and price sensitivity brought on by consolidation and growth of private label. The partners’ approach hasn’t just been to differentiate their product but to focus on building exceptionally strong relationships with relatively few retailers. “You can’t be friends with everybody,” they argue. And besides, once you are in every store in the country, the only difference between you and your competitors will be price.