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Everspring Is Designed for a Brighter, More Sustainable Future
Target’s new line of household products achieves a dual purpose—everyday care and long-term viability.
When Target introduced Everspring, its private-label brand of household cleaning and paper products, on Earth Day this year, it was no coincidence. The company was intentionally acknowledging the fact that its customers care deeply about our environment and the products they use to care for their families. The research-and-development process that led up to Everspring’s launch exemplifies not only Target’s overarching commitment to quality, style, and value, but also its focus on sustainability.
The homegrown Everspring line features more than 70 items, all made with either biobased—meaning derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry resources—or recycled materials or natural fibers. Products include everything from laundry detergent, dish soap, and paper towels to essential oils, candles, and hand soap.
Everspring formulated products are also part of Target Clean, which means that every product is made without using a group of commonly unwanted chemicals often found in cleaning products, such as phthalates, SLES, and propylparabens. To take Target’s mission even further, the design team went all out to ensure Everspring packaging is sustainable as well: Spray bottles are fabricated from post-consumer plastic.
Becoming Target Clean
Given the limitations of traditional cleaning products on the market, it makes sense that Target would create its own line of options made with the well-being of its guests, their homes, and their families in mind. The American Lung Association cites research that found that cleaning products containing volatile organic compounds can contribute to various health issues, including chronic respiratory problems or allergic reactions. These kinds of reports are leading consumers—and brands—down a more conscious path.
Target did its homework as it set out to produce the Everspring brand. “As always, the product-development process started with our guests,” says Ryan McCoy, the brand’s Design Director. Members of the Everspring design team traveled across the country, talking to people and discovering how they take care of their families and homes with traditional cleaning and paper products. “People said they were looking for alternatives, but had not switched because the existing offerings were too expensive, hard to find, or not as effective as traditional products,” McCoy explains.
The team’s discovery aligns with outside research as well. A study of 1,000 American consumers conducted by research firm A.T. Kearney—also released this year on Earth Day—backs up the Everspring strategy. The study found that more than 70% of those polled consider the environmental impact of products when shopping, and that 66% intend to switch to more planet-conscious options.
Target isn’t alone in offering guests these alternatives, and indeed it sells competing brands in its stores. “We all share a common goal of moving an entire industry forward,” McCoy says. “That being said, what distinguishes the Everspring brand is the combination of design and function. Guests will buy something once if it is well designed, but to keep them using the product, it has to function as well as traditional chemistry and paper formulations. With Everspring, we strive to achieve design and function at a highly accessible price. That’s not easy, but it’s a fun challenge.”
As the design leader on this development project, McCoy was part of a large ensemble of players within Target, including product designers, marketers, merchandisers, lawyers, and other experts from Target’s talent pool. “There were literally hundreds of people working on this brand—both at Target and our vendors,” he says.
Unifying so many disparate individuals was paramount to McCoy’s role. From the start, he had to ensure that everyone adhered to Everspring’s ETC design principal: efficacy, transparency, counter-worthiness. “We wanted to guarantee that the final products work well, promote transparency in their formulation and packaging, and look great on guests’ countertops,” he says.
A more elemental step within Target’s development of its proprietary product lines is recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining people who possess the requisite skills for a variety of roles. Patience is needed to find the perfect fit, especially for some of the specialized jobs. “It took us a year, for instance, to find our paper engineer,” McCoy recalls. It’s a complex field of engineering to begin with, and the role is vitally important due to the nature of Everspring. “Because consumers use paper products so frequently, they notice subtle changes [to them],” McCoy says.
The extensive search was worth it, though, once paper engineer Gabbi McMullen was hired, McCoy says. “She is passionate about paper. Gabbi can talk easily with guests about their needs and desires regarding products, then balance those against the limitations and constraints of manufacturing technology.”
Another integral member of the team is its principal scientist, Chris Uecker, who is highly regarded for his deep expertise in traditional, formulated chemistry and his dedication to developing biobased materials. “Without talented, creative people such as Gabbi and Chris, we could not have brought Everspring to life,” McCoy says.
Walking the Walk
In bringing the Everspring brand to market, McCoy says, the product-development team also delivered on Target’s overarching purpose, which is to help its guests discover the joy of everyday life. While conceding that household chores like scrubbing bathrooms, dusting furniture, doing laundry, and cleaning up spills aren’t exactly fun activities for most, “we hope that completing them with Everspring products can bring an element of joy to those tasks,” he says.
And considering that Americans have expressed strong interest in switching to more planet-conscious alternatives in general, Everspring gives Target the opportunity to let guests know that the company shares their sense of purpose. “We work to incorporate environmentally friendly practices into all aspects of our business,” McCoy says, “from our daily operations to the products we sell to the shopping experiences we create. It’s all in how we empower teams, serve guests, foster communities, and design tomorrow—the four pillars of our corporate responsibility strategy. Being a part of that, by developing Everspring, has brought joy to the entire team.”