Yes, Seventh Generation Kills COVID-19. And the Eco-Friendly Company Is Cleaning Up.
After initial consumer uncertainty, "green" cleaners are getting an unexpected boost.
Back in the early days of the pandemic, as shoppers scavenged cleaning-product aisles, many eyed the “green” offerings with a measure of skepticism. So little was known about the virus — and what kills it — that even the crunchiest consumers would be forgiven for thinking, See you in sunnier times, as they reached for the Lysol wipes.
But as it turns out, eco-friendly leaders like Seventh Generation are hardly riding the pine. “I wish this were for different reasons,” says Seventh Generation CEO Joey Bergstein, speaking by phone from his home near the company’s Burlington, Vermont HQ. “But we're seeing unprecedented demand for the products right now across our whole portfolio. And specifically, we're seeing a much higher demand for our cleaning and hygiene products, disinfecting spray and disinfecting wipes.”
Demand has skyrocketed across the board for companies in comparable categories (think the aforementioned Lysol, Clorox et al). Bergstein says that according to IRI data, in the last four weeks — compared to the same period last year — the general market for cleaning products has grown 57 percent. But for higher-priced and generally more niche brands like Seventh Generation, the rising tide of necessity has lifted sales to record highs. In the last four weeks — compared to the same period last year — demand for Seventh Generation cleaners has grown 386 percent.
Bergstein is hopeful that the uptick in demand for natural products is because people are thinking more seriously about the healthiest options to sanitize their spaces. “People are actually being super thoughtful about what they're bringing into their homes and using around their families,” he says. (CleanWell — the proprietary disinfecting formula in Seventh Generation products — is now on the EPA’s list of products approved to combat COVID-19.) “Especially, I assume, because they're using so much of it right now.”
Optimistically, that could mean the company will win over and retain new and enduring customers, even after the initial pandemic has subsided and life returns to semi-normal. But true to Seventh Generation’s ethos, Bergstein also hopes the crisis will bring about more sweeping changes in terms how we care for each other and the planet.
“We live in such a global, interconnected world, and we're dealing with a global interconnected virus,” he says. “But thinking beyond the immediate challenge of fighting this virus, that interconnectedness is having a fundamental effect on climate. And while that's not at the top of people's mind at this moment, I think when people emerge out of this crisis, they're going to have a much better understanding that we need to work collectively together to address climate in the same way that we're working together to address COVID-19.”