Radical transparency affects home care

August 22, 2018
3 min read

Consumer demand for access to product information is a growing trend that has manufacturers going to greater lengths to provide disclosure. Radical transparency involves companies publicly sharing significant amounts of information and data on their processes, products and supply chains to enable consumers to make more informed, evidence-based purchasing decisions.

Walmart’s blockchain initiative

Walmart is attempting to graft a blockchain onto the world’s complex food supply chain with the collaboration of IBM and some of the industry’s biggest players to form a consortium of food producers and retailers to make it a reality. Walmart thinks the project could “fundamentally change the way information is secured, stored, and shared across the food and retail industry,” creating a system where an item of produce can be traced in real-time, from farm to fork, by both producers and consumers.

Food provenance information provided on-pack

Provenance software is used by over 200 retailers and producers in the food and drink industry, enabling retailers and brands to provide shoppers with trustworthy data on the products they buy. For example, the European Co-ops use Provenance software to track fresh produce and their product claims from origin to supermarket. Provenance equips products with a unique ID that enables tracking of each item.

P&G joins SmartLabel

P&G has recently joined SmartLabel, making it possible for consumers to access detailed information about leading brands such as Febreze, Herbal Essences, Olay, Pampers and Tide. SmartLabel enables consumers to access product information online, providing information on ingredients, usage instructions, certifications and endorsements.

SmartLabel is a digital platform that spans food, beverages, personal care, household and pet care products, which can be accessed online from a smartphone, computer or tablet. To provide an accurate and consistent user experience, all information is organized under five category tabs and participants must follow a set organizational structure and design standards.

According to P&G, the move demonstrates the company is listening and responding to consumers’ needs, as research suggests consumers today are seeking more information about product ingredients than they have in the past. The product information is available online via SmartLabel in the US, and will be available in Canada by the end of 2019.

Application of QR codes by household brands

Currently, leading household market brands such as SC Johnson and P&G only use QR codes for inventory management and item identification. The QR codes are not used to provide further information on the company, brand or product. Instead, Unilever, Henkel and RB apply QR codes to guide consumers to brands’ Facebook communities, websites or event videos on how to use specialty and ancillary products. However, these initiatives are often confined to a limited number of markets.

Consumers want to know more

Companies are increasingly faced with the question, “where does this stuff come from?” The origins of a company’s products used to be concealed property rights, but consumers demand details about the systems and sources that deliver the goods they buy: quality, safety, ethics and environmental impact.

For many products, origin is an essential feature of what consumers buy. Halal, kosher, natural and organic products are often indistinguishable from conventional alternatives on shelves, but the distinctions are important to certain consumers.

New information technology such as blockchain will become of critical importance when marketing any type of household product in the future as more consumers want to know what’s inside the products they buy. Blockchain will ensure that consumers can easily identify the origin of ingredients, packaging materials and what happens after disposal.

Henrik Møller Jørgensen
Henrik Møller Jørgensen

Henrik is a Global Analyst for Household Products; conducting research, leveraging his extensive knowledge and creating reports and customised client serveys for Mintel.

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