Ecover and Green Marketing (a)

6 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008

See all articles by Andrea Larson

Andrea Larson

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Patricia H. Werhane

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Joel Reichart

Berkeley College; Independent

Lisa Spiro

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

This set of cases describes the dilemma of a small Belgian detergent company which, faced with the inability to compete, developed an environmentally friendly detergent and household cleaners. Then they built an environmentally sustainable factory. The cases raise the question, can companies such as these compete in green markets? Is an environmentally contained factory viable or feasible?

Excerpt

UVA-E-0172

Ecover and Green Marketing (a)

Ecover's mission is to be the pioneering example in sustainable social and economic development in the world. Ecover accepts that this challenge requires everyone to continuously go beyond known limits.

— Ecover Mission Statement

Depressed by the failure of his company that had manufactured private label detergents, Belgian chemist Frans Bogaerts was casting about for other business opportunities when a Swiss friend gave him a fortuitous recommendation: Why not create a detergent that would fulfill the environmental regulations recently enacted in Switzerland? Determined to come up with a formula for an environmentally friendly detergent, in 1979 Bogaerts set up a lab in a rented barn in Malle, Belgium. Whereas most detergents were composed of potentially dangerous ingredients such as petrochemicals and phosphates, Bogaerts developed a formula made from natural ingredients that posed far less environmental hazard. To signal the product's environmental friendliness, Bogaerts named both the brand and his company “Ecover,” from the Latin for “environmental” and “green.” As the company grew, it began to manufacture a range of biodegradable, “environmentally friendly” cleaning products for household and industrial use, including laundry detergent, bathroom cleansers, dishwashing liquid, and car wax. Initially Ecover products were primarily sold in health food stores, where they quickly attracted a large share of green consumers.

By 1991, Ecover faced a crucial decision that could place it far from its humble beginnings in a barn: Should it invest in an expensive ecological factory that would allow it to meet its environmental principles and expand its production capabilities, or should it continue to aim for a limited segment of the market and keep operations small? Would expansion cause Ecover to compromise its green principles and destroy its future, or would growth allow the company to “go beyond known limits” in spreading its philosophy.

. . .

Keywords: sustainable business

Suggested Citation

Larson, Andrea and Werhane, Patricia H. and Reichart, Joel and Spiro, Lisa, Ecover and Green Marketing (a). Darden Case No. UVA-E-0172. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=908436

Andrea Larson (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/larson.htm

Patricia H. Werhane

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-4840 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/werhane.htm

Joel Reichart

Berkeley College ( email )

55 Rifle Camp Road
Woodlawn Park, NJ 07424
United States

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Lisa Spiro

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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