Berry+ is made from soapberries, which contain a natural surfactant called saponin and have been used for centuries for cleaning. While soapberries in their raw form are commercially available, mainly from health-food stores and online, only a few other brands, including Maggie’s Soap Nuts and NaturOli, offer liquid detergent made out of the berries.
Berry+ is made of 95% soapberries, 4.5% vegetable glycerin, .3% olive-leaf extract and .1% potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate (food-grade preservatives), and the company touts it as “95% berry and 100% plant based.”
The most revolutionary aspect of the Berry+ product may be its packaging. Dishwasher detergents have long offered individual tablets and gel tabs, but few laundry detergents offer similar products, although several have offered them in the past and discontinued them. Those brands that currently offer them include Persil and Dropps.
Berry+ comes in “microdoses” of 2 ml, packaged in individual capsules made of plastic no. 5 that can be recycled. Each microdose is designed for one load of laundry, no matter its size. While concentrated laundry detergents have become quite popular and claim that they reduce waste by requiring less detergent per load, Berry+ rightly points out that many users overmeasure, something that is facilitated by the design of many of these products’ cap measures. Its microdoses, Berry+ says, eliminate overmeasuring and the waste that comes with it.
The outer packages that contain the packaged microdoses are recyclable clamshells made from 80% non-GMO, plant-based bio-resin (PSM). 40-, 60- and 100-packs will soon be available in reusable and compostable organic cotton bags imprinted with low-impact dyes. Even with individual packaging for the microdoses, Berry+ claims that its products use 30% packaging by weight than the average 32-load bottle of conventional detergent.
When it comes to marketing (handled by The Moderns agency), Berry+ is doing things differently than its natural-products competitors, many of which tend to emphasize the potential harmful effects of the chemicals found in conventional detergents and focus on purity and natural ingredients.
While Berry+ certainly promotes its natural ingredients as well, it focuses more on the environmentally friendly packaging of its products and the compact, individual microdoses that allow no-fuss, no-muss measuring, a feature that should be of particular interest to Berry+’s initial target market of college students as they haul laundry to the basement laundry room or the laundromat. The tagline on the Berry+ website doesn’t even bring up the environment, saying instead, “Don’t Lug That Jug.”
Rather than adopting the pious tone of many environmental products, Berry+’s communications are upbeat and snappy. With one-liners like ““Berry+ lets you start a planet-healing revolution, but a cleaner conscience starts with cleaner underwear,” and “Berry+ = cleaner clothes, cleaner planet, cleaner conscience. Anything less, and you’re talking dirty,” this is one environmentally-conscious company that is not going to break into “Kumbaya” anytime soon.
The products themselves are clean and contemporary in design, featuring colors of white, purple and green and simple graphics, with the effect reminiscent of medical or laboratory equipment, certainly a departure from the natural-look style often used for environmentally friendly products. If there is such a thing as the Mac of laundry soap, this would be it. The color scheme is also featured on the company’s website, which presents news in the form of a blog.
Berry+ launched its products in summer of 2010 on the campuses of the University of Virginia, the University of Illinois, the University of Maine, SUNY-Cobelskill and the Savannah College of Art and Design. A “Don’t Lug That Jug Back to School” campaign targeted both students and their parents. This campaign included postering, advertisements in campus newspapers, student guerilla teams handing out samples on campus and at local hotspots, and students working at “berry bars” – branded sampling stations constructed from 100% recyclable bio-board.
A free 10-pack of Berry+ was waiting in every freshman dorm room at UVA, U of I, UMaine, and SUNY Cobleskill this fall. Off-campus students were informed and encouraged to pick up a free 10-pack sample at their school bookstore. Berry + also worked with alumni associations, marketing to alumni, faculty and parents both online as well as in alumni magazines and newsletters.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Berry+ is clearly looking to appeal to environmentally conscious customers, but it is also looking to attract other kinds of do-gooders with its partnership with Rock It and Wrap It Up!, which focuses on collecting recovered food and other assets to give to social agencies. Rock and Wrap It Up! receives one penny for every microdose of Berry+purchased.
In January 2011, Berry+ became available on Alice.com, an online direct seller for consumer packaged goods companies which offers free shipping on all orders.
Previously, Berry+ was only available for sale via the Berry+ website, at some campus bookstores and, as of November 2010, at d_parture spa at Gate 92 of Terminal C in Newark Liberty International Airport.
Eye-Catching New Product
While Berry+ doesn’t have any one feature that has not been offered in the market before, the combination of its ingredients, design, marketing and brand voice make it a unique offering to catch the eyes of consumers far beyond the core environmental crowd.