For a while when I first started Tidy I was struggling to make decisions about how Tidy's shampoo bar should be made.
Should I aim to make the best shampoo bar for men? Should I aim to make the most affordable shampoo bar for men? Should I aim to make the most environmentally friendly shampoo bar for men?
What principles should I consider when making decisions about Tidy's product? More importantly: how could I ensure I was consistent in how I was making those decisions? And could I find a way of speeding up the decision making process to help Tidy grow and get better every day?
It's a balancing act
After a bit of trial and error I came up with a set of three core, and importantly competing, principles that I used to frame every decision about Tidy shampoo bars:
- they must be the best shampoo they can be - and the bar starts* with being at least as good as liquid alternatives
- they must be as environmentally friendly as possible, from cradle to grave
- they must be profitable, Tidy is a business.
Having a framework to help with decision making helps speed up the process, while having to balance the principles helps make my decisions more considered and (I think!) robust...
There'd be no point in making the best shampoo bar in the world if it's not environmentally friendly - swapping your liquid shampoo for an environmentally unsound solid shampoo would be like switching from coal to gas power: a step in the right direction, but not as impactful a step as could be taken.
There'd be no point in making the most environmentally friendly shampoo bar if it's not very good - at best people wouldn't use it, not a great outcome for Tidy! But even worse; it may put them off all solid shampoo bars for life.
And there'd be no point in making the best shampoo bar possible, in the most environmentally friendly way, if the resulting bar couldn't be sold for a profit - Tidy is a business, not a charity (more on this in a future blog post...).
So how have these competing core principles influenced the shampoo bars Tidy now offers?
Sometimes one consideration wins out over another...
A good example of one decision that I made using this framework is that all the ingredients used in our shampoo bars are organic. This doesn't make them better as a solid shampoo, but it does make them more sustainable and better for the environment.
It also makes them more expensive to make, and therefore harder to sell for a profit. Organic almond oil, for example, is more than 3 times the cost per litre than non-organic versions!
But when weighing up the profitable vs environmental principles, the environmental principle won out.
But sometimes one strong argument isn't enough...
Another example is when I was thinking about what packaging to use to ship our shampoo bars to customers. One option would be to use custom designed wrapping and boxes. I'd love to, they would look amazing and improve the overall experience of using Tidy shampoo. Jason my designer friend who developed the Tidy branding is super keen to do this (Hi Jason 👋).
But custom packaging would be significantly more expensive than the off the shelf packaging we're using today and wouldn't directly improve the shampoo bars themselves or be any more environmentally friendly, so for now we don't use custom packaging as it would impact our ability to sell bars at a profit without benefiting the other vectors of the core principles (sorry Jason 😔, one day maybe...).
Work in progress
I still struggle to make decisions about some aspects of Tidy. I don't think that will ever change. But at least I now have some core principles to consider when making the product decisions.
They'll evolve over time I'm sure, but for now they are helping me, and Tidy, continue to slowly grow and take one step at a time towards a world where men in the UK throw fewer shampoo bottles away each year.
*no pun intended 😁