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Dave Byman

By: Dave Byman on February 25th, 2016

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The Business Case for Product Transparency

SmartLabel™  |  Company Viewpoint


Parents pinning paleo recipes on Pinterest. Graduate students studying green energy, Googling gluten-free granola bars. Fitness instructors Facebooking photos of fair-trade fruits and vegetables.  

Meet the modern consumer. We’re tech-savvy, health, environmentally and socially conscious, and connected to countless, intersecting online communities sharing information in real-time. And it’s a recipe that has created an unprecedented hunger for knowledge. (Pun fully intended.)

We’re increasingly interested in understanding what’s in our food. Where it was sourced, how it was grown, how the animals and workers and environments were treated that brought it to our plate. We have health and wellness goals and special diets and ingredient allergies and aversions. Our value equation has fundamentally changed. Taste, price, and convenience have made way for nourishment, safety, and social responsibility. We demand transparency.

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The erosion of trust in food companies is well documented, and well warranted. When we discover our bread has yoga mat chemicals in it or that there’s wood pulp in our cheese or that workers are subjected to deplorable conditions or that farming methods are threatening species and ecosystems, we’re rightfully entitled to calling for more accountability and transparency through the entire food supply chain.

In this continued transformation in the way in which we consume and think about food, we aren’t just calling for more transparency – we’re asking specific questions. We need to know more about our food than can fit on a standard product label. We demand super-transparency.

Transparency is more than just a label. It’s more than just earning consumers’ trust, or simply sharing achievements with sustainability initiatives or product reformulations that removed artificial ingredients. It’s about making internal improvements. It’s about uncovering problems in the supply chain. It’s about sharing the sometimes unsavory sides you may discover about your products, ingredients, or corporate practices. It’s a never-ending journey to become and continue to be transparent.

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Brands that win with consumers will be those that provide the information they seek, well beyond what is on the label. They’ll take a consumer-centric approach and won’t just tell, but listen and start a conversation. They’ll disclose controversial aspects that will turn off some consumers, but will also be seen as a step towards super-transparency that will win over more consumers than they’ll lose. They won’t just share the what, but the why, and the purpose, and how those things align with their brand identity. They’ll stay in more control of the public discussion about their products and practices.  They won’t simply provide more information – they’ll make that information more useful, accessible and actionable. They’ll restore trust through storytelling and transparency.  

Want to learn how your organization can begin to make strides towards product transparency? Join us this October for TransparencyIQ - a brand new event for those looking to go beyond the label and harness the advantage of consumer trust through product transparency.

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About Dave Byman

Dave Byman is VP of Sales at Label Insight. Dave has previously held leadership positions at Nielsen and Affinnova, and has spent his career consulting CPGs and retailers on strategies for innovation, marketing, and operations.