The abundance of package claims and ingredient complexities across the FMCG landscape puts a burden on consumers.
Not only do they need to decipher and decode, they also need to determine which claims are most relevant to their needs.
For many, the approach is simple: Buy from companies that are more transparent and clear in their claims and labels.
The bottom line is that transparency and clean label are not point-in-time fads.
Transparency Is Winning In The U.S. Retail Market
It looks like big food and big ag has gotten so big and so complicated, that consumers are having a hard time figuring out if their purchasing criteria are a match for their values.
Consumers are paying more attention to what they buy—and that goes for foods, beverages and non-food categories like personal care, vitamins and supplements.
They’re paying so much attention that our entire processed food system is under consumer review. Local food, farm to fork, sustainable practices and social equity are all becoming part of the buying process for American consumers.
The Rise Of Clean Label & Sustainable Products
The natural products industry has long been in the lead when it comes to developing clean labels and good manufacturing processes. That’s because their customers always expected as much.
The mainstream packaged goods companies have been quite late to this opportunity. Their approach has been to green wash their products, announce a reformulation, sell themselves to a larger conglomerate or acquire a natural product company.
Despite the growing use of the term “clean” to describe products across the fast moving consumer goods space, there is no universally accepted definition for what constitutes a clean product. Just like “natural”.
However, in order to provide some analytical rigor to this term and to understand how sales have shifted toward cleaner products, our friends at Nielsen and Label Insight have created a progressive definition of clean label, shown in the chart at left. Thanks a bunch guys. You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.
Looks Like We’re Not In Kansas Anymore, Toto
We live in a world with unending information. Given the state of information flooding the world we now live in, success for packaged goods manufacturers will depend on clear communication with consumers and a focus on what matters to them.
The number one thing above all others is not to have those products harm the planet or injure the consumer. That’s a very tall order and it’s causing all the disruption we’re seeing in the food space.
Clean label is a spectrum, and companies need to know where the shifts are happening. The bottom line is that transparency and clean label are not point-in-time fads.
They have gone mainstream and competition for consumers seeking clarity, purity and responsibility is only going to increase. The cleaner the better. From a consumer-centric view, that’s what playing the “Is It Healthy?” game looks like.