Reimagining Household Cleaners With Refill Plans (And Reusable Bottles)

cleaning products

To change the way consumers buy home cleaning products, eCommerce companies are allowing consumers to purchase eco-friendly concentrates through the refill business model. Truman’s Co-Founder Alex Reed told PYMNTS in an interview that the direct-to-consumer (DTC) business model has “changed the landscape of a number of different categories” in areas such as razors. But he and his co-founder “felt like cleaning really hadn’t changed much,” Reed said. They did, however, have an observation about cleaning products: Concentrate was common in the commercial space where it is not practical to ship and store spray cleaners that receive high-volume use.

In the home, however, consumers have become accustomed to the off-the-shelf, ready-to-use spray cleaners. Reed’s company works with a firm that creates concentrates for a product that is suitable for use in the home. “You don’t have to measure,” Reed said. “You don’t have to touch the concentrate.” The setup, then, takes away the guesswork, inconvenience and concerns that held back concentrates in the first place while delivering the product in a consumer-friendly package. Truman’s aim, after all, is to take the clutter out of cleaning with a simple product experience.

The company, for instance, has a starter kit with all four of its cleaners for a “super approachable price point,” according to Reed. (The four cleaning products are designed for glass, the kitchen, the shower and bathroom and the floor.) The kit contains four empty bottles and a concentrate cartridge for each cleaner; consumers provide water. The cartridges fit into the neck of a reusable bottle in only one direction. As a result, customers don’t have to worry about whether they are putting the cartridge in the right way. The sprayer straw goes through the cartridge, and the concentrate releases only when the sprayer twists into place. With this setup, customers don’t need to mix, pour or touch the solutions.

To get started with the company’s products, consumers can purchase the starter kit at a discounted price if they sign up for a refill plan. And consumers can modify, cancel or personalize the plan offering at any time. If they don’t want to sign up for a refill plan, they can order the starter kit through an a la carte style purchase. With this option, consumers do have access to the refill store so they can come online and make purchases when they are ready. For payments, consumers can buy the refill plan with a credit or debit card. However, shoppers who opt for the a la carte offering can also use Apple Pay, Google Pay or PayPal as payment methods as well.

Making the Switch

Reed also noted the company learned that cleaning is personal, and people clean in their own ways. And they can’t be convinced a cleaning product is going to work without giving the solution a try first. To help encourage consumers to use the product, his company seeks to focus on affordability and have customers give it a shot. “You’re not locked into anything,” Reed said, adding it’s a reasonable price for a non-toxic cleaner to try in home. When it comes to strategy, the idea is not to sell efficacy: Instead, Reed says the aim is to try to remove the barriers to entry and delight customers with product performance.

As part of its efforts toward having customers promote the company’s products, Truman’s also has a referral program: It provides consumers who refer a friend with $5 in Truman’s Bucks, and the friend receives 50 percent off a starter kit. Beyond that promotional offering, Reed says the company is a big believer in transparency, and it wants reviews — be they good or bad. It wants people to share their experience and introduce their friends to the product. The reason is that much of the company’s go-to-market strategy is around the concept of having other people talk about it.

Consumers may wonder if the formula will work like, say, Windex, and if the extra step (adding water and putting a cartridge in) is worth it. Reed said the company understands that challenge: “Our biggest competition is inaction.” That is, Reed said, “not changing and not switching from your current brand.” The company could tell consumers about its products and get some attention, but Reed said it needs people who are already trying it and using it to help spread the word. The concept of social proof, in other words, is front and center to the company’s growth.

With the help of consumers spreading the word of the brand and cleaning cartridges, eCommerce firms such as Truman’s are aiming to provide consumers with an alternative to buying a new bottle with every cleaning product purchase through the help of a reusable refill model.


New PYMNTS Report: Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook – July 2020 

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