The New Normal: Online Transparency

The New Normal: Online Transparency

Despite the lack of US federal regulation, personal care powerhouse, Unilever, has voluntarily disclosed the fragrance ingredients included in all individual products sold in the U.S. and Europe.  The information was posted online starting in 2017, including explanations of the ingredient types in “What’s in Our Products” sections on Unilever websites.

Why undertake a costly, time-consuming and not legally necessary project of this nature?

As a savvy and socially-aware producer of consumer goods, Unilever has recognized that today’s consumers hold suppliers to a different and arguably higher, standard.  They are digital natives that expect total information transparency and demand social responsibility.  They won’t buy products from companies they don’t trust and they have $200B in buying power!  As Forbes writer, Kira Karapetian, so succinctly put it, “The Path To Millennial Spend Is Paved With Transparency”.

The chemical industry is not immune to this trend.  With millennials comprising an increasingly large portion of the workforce, they are bringing their behaviors and beliefs to the industry and the implications relative to information transparency are unquestionable…

Intellectual property is dead.

Okay, it’s not exactly dead, but the buyers of today expect to find the information they need to research ingredients and solutions online.  When they are unable to find information online or are forced to complete lengthy forms to secure access, they will find an alternative supplier that freely provides the information they want.  They don’t accept “I’m protecting my IP” as an explanation because information has always been available to them at the click of a mouse.

Chemical producers may rightly feel they have the right to keep hard-won innovations to themselves and that is fair to an extent, but gating every piece of product literature or forcing engagement with sales personnel during the early stages of the buyer’s journey, effectively engenders mistrust and drives those buyers into the arms of the next producer.

Keeping buyers happy (and loyal) is smart and that’s why producers like Unilever are making it a priority to provide product information online.  And as more and more companies follow suit, transparency in the industry becomes the norm.

Chemical producers looking to thrive in the world of today, would do well to take note.