Within the consumer products industry, trends toward consumer centricity such as increasing personalization, emphasis on direct-to-consumer channels, and heightened product transparency are driving action in quality management. In 2021, the role of retailers, distributors, and other organizations outside of the manufacturer are increasingly important to ensure a high level of product quality and customer satisfaction. Additionally, building a culture of quality is more important than ever as a way for organizations to reduce avoidable costs and improve success across quality management initiatives.
Trend #1: Shifting Consumer Preferences are Redefining the Role of Quality Management
As COVID-19 stay-at-home orders drove increased consumer use of online channels, it is more important than ever to ensure quality management is adequately integrated into the organization’s direct-to-consumer approach. For digitally native brands, consumers have come to expect a seamless experience, often accompanied by some level of personalization. They want high-touch service and convenience along with transparency about the products they purchase. One element brought forward by a rise in customer interest in direct-to-consumer brands is how brand loyalty can be strengthened through a quality experience, which many consumers actually value over product quality. While DTC brands such as Glossier, The Honest Company, Dollar Shave Club, and Casper may receive some criticism about their products, they are able to retain customers and achieve overall satisfaction by providing a clean and simplified quality shopping experience.
The Consumer Healthcare industry is a notable example of how quality is impacting DTC. With DTC consumer healthcare products, brands should explicitly explain the product’s benefits and key differentiators to create a streamlined experience that keeps consumers informed. Options can also be provided to personalize products based on a consumer’s own health data, with quality compliance efforts transparent. However, consumer healthcare DTC product claims management has become more complex with the rise of social media brand interactions with customers, especially when considering negative reviews that could be identified as reportable adverse events in the eyes of regulators. To truly ensure quality, DTC companies operating in consumer healthcare and other similar product categories should consider balancing compliance efforts and a quality consumer experience to develop an effective overarching quality strategy.
86% of consumers would pay more for a good customer experience, so brands’ quality strategies should incorporate customer service elements.
Trend #2: Retailers’ Role in Regulatory Transparency is Expanding
Transparency has become a top priority for many consumer products brands in the last few years, with a particular focus on identifying sourcing information to enhance transparency within the supply chain. As more supply chain partners outside of a manufacturer’s four walls create transparency into quality, CP organizations have a unique opportunity to leverage these “regulatory proxies” to benefit their brands.
Social selling is a relatively new channel supporting transparency, especially in health and personal care, where influencers serve as ambassadors to brand quality and often emphasize brands’ commitment to sustainability and clean ingredients. Health and beauty manufacturers can ensure established operating procedures and validation processes for data integrity to support consistency in product quality, sustainability and transparency initiatives, and the overall brand quality to be communicated by brand ambassadors, which is especially important as health and beauty is an increasingly regulated industry.
With heightened focus on transparency and product sourcing based on evolving consumer demands, retailers are another example of a regulatory proxy. Target Clean uses special labeling for products that meet Target’s “standard of clean” that are made without certain ingredients that would be considered less preferable to clean-conscious consumers. Amazon has also developed a “Climate Pledge Friendly” label to help consumers more easily understand which products are sustainable without the heavy lift of research and product comparisons. This means that consumer products manufacturers should take extra care to ensure that their brand equity is protected and respected as a producer of high-quality products. Clear labeling that is easy for consumers to understand is one action that manufacturers can take to capitalize on this trend, and brands should consider quality standards as a competitive advantage as they provide transparency on quality assurance practices and sustainability.
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Contributions by Courtney Loughran