Published on: February 12, 2015
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Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
I was talking to a guy the other day about something that I think is a consistent part of the narrative here on MNB - my conviction about the increased desire on the part of consumers for trackability, traceability and transparency.
And this fellow pointed me to a story from late last year that I had not seen - how a complaint was filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against a company called Element Electronics, which has been selling televisions through major retailers such as Walmart and Target, televisions that are said to be assembled in the USA. The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has complained that Element's definition of "assembled" is, to say the least, deceptive - apparently the TVs are built in China out of largely Chinese parts, and then, when they get to the US, workers take off the back of the TV, insert a Chinese-made motherboard, and then close it up.
Now, this complaint is under review by the FTC ... but it seems to me that even as this stage in the process, it serves as a cautionary note for both retailer and supplier companies.
Through the supply chain, companies need to know where their products come from, need to be able to track and trace them as they move through the system, and then have to be completely transparent about origin, ingredients and components during the selling process. If you don't provide the accurate information, you're going to get caught. If you don't have the accurate information, it is going to come back to bite you. It is that simple.
This cuts across so many areas. It can affect "made in the USA" claims. It can be related to organic and GMO-related claims. It certainly is part of the changing food safety rules. And as we saw this week, the issue of transparency clearly is playing out in New York State's actions against the nutritional supplement industry. (Hell, I think you can argue that at some level, this is what was playing out in the Brian Williams controversy.)
Trackability, traceability and transparency. Retailers and suppliers that fighting against these new demands strike me as foolhardy, because it is a battle that you can't win. There simply are too many sources of information out there, too many divergent voices looking to weigh in about your business. You might as well be up front about the products you are selling, and vigilant about where they come from and how they are constituted.
It may seem like a lot of work, but it comes down to preserving the integrity and brand equity of your business.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: