Has a company ever chosen morality over profitability?
SC Johnson made a choice like this, and it’s hurt sales ever since.
Saran Wrap is a product people in the United States know well, and it’s been popular for years… it hit the markets in 1953, and quickly became popular for its utility in storing food. It blocked odors, it microwaved well, and it did a better job of clinging to containers than any other product on the market. (It may have been popular in other countries as well, but I have no frame of reference for that.)
If you’ve used Saran Wrap in the past decade or so, you’ve probably noticed it’s not as effective as it used to be.
Originally created by Dow Chemicals, Saran Wrap came under SC Johnson’s control in 1998. Shortly thereafter, they discovered that one of the chemicals used to manufacture the famous plastic wrap, polyvinylidene chloride, had toxic effects on the environment.
They attempted to find a replacement that would preserve the qualities of Saran Wrap people had come to love, but after a year of effort, SC Johnson made the decision to remove the chemical and release a new formulation. It’s not as effective, but it no longer poisons the environment.
There was no boycott, there was no federal investigation… the company discovered the danger, and then voluntarily gave up its competitive advantage in order to avoid harming the environment.
By : David Michael