Clorox, the Oakland, California-based manufacturer of chemical products best known for its eponymous brand of liquid bleach as well as many other household cleaning products, announced earlier this year a new line of cleaning products marketed heavily under the banner of environmental friendliness.
The line, known as “Green Works”, consists of a toilet cleaner, bathroom cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, dilutable cleaner and a window cleaner purported to be composed of 99% natural components, not unlike the “Seventh Generation” and “method” brands of green cleaners it is meant to compete with. To further highlight its green merits, Clorox labels these components on the Green Works containers as well as displaying its company logo, which it does not do on some of its subsidiary products.
The importance of these labels cannot be understated, as the use of the latter indicates that Clorox is trying to leverage its brand name recognition in order to further the success of the Green Works products. Furthermore, by listing the ingredients, it can embolden its green claim through sheer transparency. In effect, they unify the values of the emergent green awareness with the association the Clorox brand has with industrial strength household cleaning.
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Dunn (2008) observes that while the word ‘natural’ is often tossed about wantonly about in the sphere of marketing, Clorox makes a moderately legitimate claim on the adjective. The ingredients for the all-purpose cleaner include glycerine, ethanol, water, alkyl polyglucoside, lemon oil. The Green Works all-purpose cleaner makes no attempt to conceal the existence of the synthetics, namely those used for preservative and coloring which are petroleum-based formulations that are however, biodegradable.
But perhaps the most notable piece of marketing leverage for the Green Works line of cleaners is the deal which Clorox has negotiated with the century old grassroots environmental organization known as The Sierra Club. After Green Works cleaners were reviewed by its volunteer committees, Clorox/Green Works struck a deal in which The Sierra Club approved the use of their logo as an informal means of endorsement for the brand. Effectively speaking, Clorox can leverage the approval granted by Sierra Club to gain currency with individuals who have a more vested interest in environmental issues than the average consumer.
Between the Clorox brand and the Sierra Club endorsement, the Green Works brand possesses two marketing assets that could possibly enable it to capture a sizable chunk of the emerging market for environmentally friendly household cleaners. The Seventh Generation and method brands already have gained some currency among the environmental set, but they are viewed largely as ‘alternatives’ for those who opt out of major brands such as Clorox that had previously not catered to their cleaner preferences. Furthermore, individuals with some amount of distrust towards the ‘old guard’ of big time chemical manufacturing can be assuaged by the approval implied by the Sierra Club logo.
However, Clorox still has some ways to go to ensure the continued success of the Green Works line. Dunn (2008) maintains that the Green Works products are not completely green, as their practices necessary to their manufacture are not entirely sustainable or green-friendly, such as the rainforest destruction which frequently gets attached to the harvesting of coconut oil. As such, the continued success of Clorox’s Green Works is entirely contingent on how quickly they can better make their cleaners green-friendly and do so at a rate that catches up with the speed by which they build the brand.
Dunn, C. (2008, January 14) “Introducing Clorox’s Green Works Cleaners.” TreeHugger. Retrieved September 27, 2008 from: http://treehugger.com/files/2008/01/clorox-green-works.php
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