Innovation By Acquisition

I love Method. They are a true leader in sustainability. Following the “Good first, Green second” adage, not only do their products work well, they are also responsibility sourced and produced. Their bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic (including ocean plastic) and their industry-first, LEED-platinum certified manufacturing plant is a marvel to behold, incorporating wind and solar power and a huge green roof. I was excited about the future of the green leader, that was until they were purchased by a larger company.

This is the concept of innovation by acquisition. Instead of developing a new, green product in-house, where they may not have the necessary competencies, a company can instead purchase another that has already made all the investments and done all of innovating (seems lazy to me, but that’s beside the point). Method’s acquisition is just the latest in a long string of such transactions. The same thing happened to Burt’s Bees and Tom’s of Maine, who were bought by conglomerates Clorox and Colgate-Palmolive respectively. These former acquisitions have alienated fans of both brands who claim that the founders have sold out and given in to corporate pressure. While the acquisition have given both brands access to much larger markets, die-hard fans will never touch them again.

Method, on the other hand, is in an interesting position. It has been acquired by European green-cleaning giants Ecover who have a long history of environmental stewardship (they were green before it was cool). Method owners claim the acquisition is more of a partnership and that the company will keep their values, interesting bottle designs, and quirky humour intact. They two companies will share their latest research and development insights, and allow Method to expand into the European market and Ecover to expand into the North American market. The Ecover Group, thanks to the newly acquired Method, is now the largest green cleaning company in the world.

As a fan of Method, I hope they keep up their good work and don’t lose focus of their core values. I would hate to remove their delightful, tear-shaped bottle from my sink. I mean look at them, they’re gorgeous!

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