The relationship between supply and demand is a fundamental concept of economics. When demand for a product or service outweighs the quantity of supplies that can be offered, in most cases, the price of the good and service goes up.
Leaders at S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. (SC Johnson) may have missed the memo about this concept – or, did they choose to ignore it? When the Zika virus began spreading rapidly through Argentina and Brazil, demand for the company’s OFF! Insect repellent increased to nine times the normal amount. Currently, there is no vaccine for the Zika virus, so individuals in South America bought the repellent to prevent virus-carrying mosquitos from biting.
Because demand for the product increased and supply decreased, SC Johnson was in a great position to capitalize on this epidemic by increasing the price of the product.
They chose to do the opposite.
Instead, SC Johnson increased production of the repellent, and decreased the price by 25% to help make the product more affordable to those in need. The company also donated $15 million to the Red Cross, as well as some of the governments of the countries that were impacted the most by the virus.
As the virus began spreading to the U.S., SC Johnson also donated 60,000 bottles of OFF! to the Center for Disease Control.
Operating a profitable business does not make companies bad, but SC Johnson demonstrated that it values people more than profits. As ethical leaders and organizations, it is important to prioritize your values and exhibit behaviors that communicate your values to all of your stakeholders. The CPT commends SC Johnson for being a difference to those in need.
Always remember, Leadership is a Lifestyle.
— Ryan W. Hirsch
Operations Manager, NASBA Center for the Public Trust (CPT)