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Taking the pulse of SmartLabel

SmartLabel rolled out in 2015 as a way for CPG companies and manufacturers to tell the full story about their products. Where does the initiative stand today?

4 min read


SmartLabel onpack

(Label Insight)

As consumers increasingly demand more comprehensive information about the food they buy and the products they use in their homes, CPG companies are finding ways to make it readily accessible. SmartLabel, an industry-led initiative with hundreds of brands involved, is helping them do just that by offering a platform for transparency and simple data sharing.

A joint initiative from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute, SmartLabel allows consumers to digitally access detailed product information that goes beyond what appears on the package label. More manufacturers and retailers are adopting the platform thanks to a sea change among curious and savvy shoppers.

A consumer shift

According to FMI’s Transparency Imperative study, 86% of consumers believe it is important for brands and manufacturers to offer detailed information about their products. What’s more, 75% of consumers say they would switch brands for a product that offers more in-depth information about what’s in it.

Dagan Xavier, co-founder and senior vice president of data at Label Insight, which offers SmartLabel solutions for manufacturers and retailers, believes the industry demand behind SmartLabel stems directly from a consumer demand for more and greater transparency. As he puts it, “Transparency is not a fad, it’s a right.”

Picking up the pace

Since its inception in 2015, SmartLabel has come to cover nearly 55,000 products, with about 20,000 more expected to be added to the platform within the year. While more products are consistently being added, adoption has taken time, Xavier explains. “There was a bit of a slow adoption curve there, primarily because this type of data and information is not always on the package for these CPGs,” he says.

Besides the consumer demand for more transparency, Xavier believes industry-wide shifts such as bioengineered food disclosures and other regulatory changes have caused SmartLabel adoption to increase. “There’s so much movement going on that [is] also an influencer here on initiating brands to really get their data in order,” he explains.

For Xavier, a key aspect of SmartLabel has been creating a positive consumer experience by going beyond simply replicating what’s on the label. While companies initially used SmartLabel for compliance reasons, they’ve begun looking for other ways to add value by telling their brand story and sharing information with consumers about corporate social responsibility, says Abbie Bys, Label Insight’s director of product development.

Hellmans, for example, uses its SmartLabel to define cage-free eggs and tell customers where it sources them, Bys says. As FMI’s Doug Baker explains, Coca-Cola also integrates its SmartLabel with a website that offers facts about its products, furthering the opportunity to have a worthwhile conversation with customers.

What’s next?

The number of products on the SmartLabel platform is expected to increase exponentially, and Bys expects the breadth of products to also increase. More products ranging from pregnancy tests to over-the-counter medications and Q-tips are likely to be added as time goes on. Bys believes consumers will increasingly seek out information related to the lifecycle of a product, whether it’s a food or household item. “If you bought a motorized mop tool, how do I actually recycle this or how do I dispose of this?” she muses.

More specific templates based on product type were also introduced this year, making it easier for companies to list their items.

In the end, “Adoption is going to be significant,” Baker says. “Consumers are going to want to see it on anything and everything.”

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