Cleanspritz is a producer of cleaning products for household and industrial use in the US. The company is a subsidiary of MJ Brenner. As at 2012, the company was experiencing an annual 7.5% decline in sales for the fifth consecutive year. This triggered a closer look at what particularly is responsible for the decline. This cause research has a handful of dynamics that will be discussed in this work.
In 2012, the US was facing an economic crisis that trickled down from the 2008 great recession caused by the housing bubble. The crisis cut household spending and made more households set priorities and only spend on items that are a necessity. Cleaning products were a necessity; even though there might be a reduction in quantity, it is still an essential. However, purchasing power was lower, so people sought cheaper options for their goods. Cleanspritz was not an exception. The cost of getting Cleanspritz was higher compared to unbranded alternatives. So there might have been a chance that customers are seeking cheaper options. The recession was noted as one of the possible causes of the decline prior to research.
Also, the era witnessed tremendous growth in environmental consciousness. People were more conscious about what happens around them and how it affects the environment. Discourses around climate change, depleting ozone layer and sustainable development were building up.
After the research was carried out, customers’ responses showed that the increased attention to environmentally friendly products caused the sales to decline. Customers were concerned about the effect their goods had on them and their environment. This concern was valid and Cleansprintz had initially added a more environmentally friendly product (3:1 concentrate) to their line as against their first product (diluted spray).
However, further research showed that customers have not been purchasing biodegradable or environmentally friendly products. The sale of such products has constantly been declining. Even though the customers liked the products, the possibility of actually purchasing them on shelves is very low. This is probably due to the higher cost that environmentally friendly products come in.
This leaves Cleansprintz in a dilemma. How do you satisfy customers that like a certain type of product over another but may not be able to afford it?
This Cleanspritz dilemma links to the growing conversation around the unaffordability of environmentally sustainable options when compared to the environmentally degrading one. Most companies spend more to produce them and consumers may need to spend more to buy. When placed side by side with what they need those products for, consumers are forced to go for the environmentally unfriendly option. It is not so fair to advise an elderly person in a poor third world country to abandon burning the firewood because it is hazardous to the environment when that’s all she can afford. Likewise, it is questionable to mandate all firewood processing factories in her vicinity to diversify to a more environmentally friendly product. Still, if research is carried out in such countries to determine whether the people will be willing to change to a more environmentally friendly option, the answer is likely to be a big yes.
So, amidst the wrecking economy and purchasing power, is it still ethical on the side of the government to promote and mandate people to always seek environmentally friendly? Is it also ethical for companies to continue pushing environmentally friendly products knowing people are less likely to buy it and it costs them more to produce?