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By: Label Insight Team on April 14th, 2016

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SmartLabel Leaders: Pam Bailey, CEO of Grocery Manufacturers Association


PamelaBailey_GMA.jpgWelcome to SmartLabel Leaders, a series of interviews with the leading minds and organizations, brands and service providers fueling the SmartLabel transparency initiative forward.

This week Label Insight is speaking with Pam Bailey, CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). The GMA, along with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), is the organization responsible for bringing SmartLabel to life, so it seemed like an appropriate place to begin. Stay tuned for future interviews.

How many brands have confirmed participation in SmartLabel to date?
More than 35 companies have publicly committed to implement Smartlabel™ and these companies project that they will have more than 34,000 items supported by SmartLabel™ landing pages by the end of 2017.

How has brand interest in SmartLabel measured up to the GMA’s expectations? Can you share a revised forecast for participation?
Our expectations were pretty high for Smartlabel because we knew from the work in creating it how such a wide range of companies see its value in providing detailed product information. I think what is exceeding expectations is the speed at which companies are launching products with SmartLabel. We knew there would be a ramp-up time as companies worked on the back-end system requirements to provide accurate data on so many attributes. But capabilities like those that Label Insight delivers as well as other service providers are helping the industry accelerate getting this information to consumers, and so the pace of implementation by companies has been faster. We plan to revise our forecast for implementation every six months; the next one will be later this spring.

SmartLabel_Leaders-GMA.jpgWhat brands would you point to as leaders in SmartLabel to date?
We believe that all the brands and companies in that group of more than 35 early commitments to SmartLabel are leaders. The companies that have been the quickest to get to market with products using SmartLabel™ have been The Hershey Company, General Mills, Food-for-Life, Naked Bacon and Unilever. These companies were out first and have gone beyond just providing consumers a digital label. The information they are providing will help demonstrate how much detailed information consumers can get through SmartLabel.

What types of brands are best served by SmartLabel?
SmartLabel and ingredient transparency are winners for every kind of company and brand, and the fact is that food, beverage, pet care, personal care and household products brands all are among the early adopters. Some companies are going through a priority setting process and identifing the brands in their portfolio that would benefit the most from transparency through this initiative.

What most excites you about SmartLabel?
As consumers and other interested parties interact with SmartLabel, the experience has been very positive. There have even been a few skeptics who started out by challenging our ability to be transparent, only to come away from the conversation convinced that Smartlabel will be, over time, the tool they need to find out information about the products they use and consume.

For brands that are undecided about whether or not to participate in SmartLabel, what insight would you share with them?
Any CPG company that is interested in connecting with consumers and meeting their desire for more ingredient information should be looking at SmartLabel™ because it puts this information right at the fingertips of shoppers. In fact, the brands we have talked to are more often asking “when and how” they will utilize SmartLabel -- not “if”.

Today’s consumers have an ever increasing desire for knowledge, and they are accustomed to finding the information. Brands that make this information easily accessible for consumers will build and maintain consumer trust. In addition, the common approach provided by Smartlabel is also a huge enabler for consumers. While a number of brands share information today, each does so in its own way – and that makes it more difficult for consumers to find what they are seeking. That’s why GMA is encouraging all brands who embrace transparency as a strategic imperative to use SmartLabel to provide easy and instantaneous access to information for their consumers.

Where do you see the SmartLabel a year from today?
In a year, SmartLabel will be well on its way to the projections of 34,000 products across a range of food, beverage, personal care, household products and pet care products in the marketplace, and as more and more products with SmartLabel hit the shelves, consumers can see and understand how it empowers them with so much more information than they ever had before from a package label.

Any additional thoughts to share on the SmartLabel initiative?
One of the most important tenets of SmartLabel is seamless, accurate information flow. We are encouraging all participating brands to publish the SmartLabel attributes via the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) and we are asking all retailing websites and apps to receive the data via GDSN. That way we stand a much better chance that the information a consumer sees on a label, a Smartlabel landing page, a retailer’s website or an app is the same and accurate.

We look forward to bringing you more SmartLabel Leaders interviews. In the meantime, if you want to hear a brand’s perspective on the initiative, check out our recent post featuring Unilever Brand Manager Tracy Shepard-Rashkin. Rashkin shares what Unilever learned when launching SmartLabel for its Hellmann’s brand.

And, if your brand is ready to get started with SmartLabel but needs help knowing where to begin, let Label Insight help. We’re happy to show you how our technology can make participation quick and simple. Schedule a demo today.

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