“The time period post COVID has been really tricky,” said Alison Whritenour, CEO of Seventh Generation since July of 2021 and a 12-year veteran of the brand’s marketing. “We had some of our highest record growth in 2020, because we participate in cleaning categories. And then the bottom kind of fell out in 2021. That really sent us back to the drawing board on who we want to be in the world.”
That includes examining what categories Seventh Generation should compete in, how it markets and where. As of the end of this year, Seventh Generation is pulling out of global markets to concentrate on turning its U.S. business around.
Because of the pandemic, Whritenour said, “We grew in all the wrong places. We saw the exponential growth in categories like paper and cleaners, which aren’t core categories to our business, have the weakest supply chains and, honestly, are the least appealing financially for us. By focusing in those areas, I think we also took our eye off the ball in the most strategic places like laundry and dish [soaps]. We emerged with a very broken supply chain, so everything had to be rebuilt.”
Seventh Generation is on a better path now. “We’ve been on that ride and survived it,” Whritenour said. It remains the leading green brand in the U.S., which she said, “is exactly where we want to be.” The green products category broadly continues to grow at rates of more than 11% annually in the U.S.