Decades of confusing and contradictory information have made consumers wary of brands and unfamiliar ingredients. So how do personal care brands build trust?
How Did We Get Here?
While human history is full of examples of people unknowingly exposing themselves to toxins like lead and asbestos, the relationship between consumers and toxic ingredients shifted dramatically in the early 19th century. The industrial revolution led to the first “supply chains”: product pipelines where ingredients were created and packaged at a distance from the seller and consumer. In those early days, it was easy for every supplier in the chain to adulterate ingredients and improve their profit margin. By the time the product reached the consumer, it was full of fillers and toxins.
In response, governments began piecing together rules and laws to protect consumers from unhealthy products. In the mid-to-late 1800s, packaging was increasingly used to protect products from adulteration, and to warn consumers about potential risks. However, a century of consumer protections and labeling laws has been consistently undermined by public disasters, as new, approved products and ingredients proved to have dreadful side effects and business interests have influenced consumer protection regulations.
Since the 2000s, consumers have taken matters into their own hands, independently researching ingredients, rejecting unknown or unwanted chemicals, and seeking out products they perceive as “clean” and “natural.” This has created a marketplace full of confusion and misinformation, leading to incidents like the student who convinced people to ban dihydrogen monoxide. Brands need to respond.
How Do Brands Build Trust in Their Products and Ingredients?
For personal care and hygiene brands, trust is even more critical than for other products. People look to these products to keep themselves and their homes clean and safe, and need to feel good about the brands they choose.
- Excellence. Brands need to commit to creating the highest quality products, and recruit and train staff with the same commitment. Consumers are willing to pay premium prices for organic and natural personal care products, so this is a category where quality is critical.
- Education. Brands that go beyond current labeling requirements to explain what each ingredient is and what it does build consumer trust in their products. Product labels that include not just the name of the ingredient, but its purpose, help to establish consumer trust.
- Transparency. Transparency is the new name of the game. Let consumers see not just what the ingredients are, but where they come from. Transparency in sourcing and suppliers lets consumers feel that they are making good purchasing decisions.
- Certifications. While many consumers are wary of claims that brands make themselves, they have greater trust and reliance on certifications. In fact, studies show that government and NGO certifications have equal weight and high value in the consumer’s perception, unlike business-association labels. Consumers expect certified products to cost more, but are willing to pay those prices due to their trust in the certification.
- Ingredient branding. Ingredient branding is a great way to build consumer trust. Companies like Lonza and DSM are supplying effective, natural, certified, and eco-friendly ingredients to personal care brands. The power of these recognizable, branded ingredients adds value to the end product, and indicates quality and reliability to the consumer.
- Innovation. We have just begun to scientifically “scratch the surface” of the abilities of microbes, natural oils, and plant-based products to act as preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, surfactants, anti-oxidants, and perform other critical personal care product functions. This area has incredible potential for research and exploration, and consumers are eager for such ingredients in the marketplace. Personal care brands that invest in innovation will reap rewards for years to come.
By focusing on quality and innovation, being transparent with consumers, and using recognizable ingredient brands and certifications, personal care brands can build trust and brand loyalty. To get there, companies need amazing teams, from the supply chain and product managers, to the scientists and regulatory specialists creating new ingredients and products. To find top talent in personal care and hygiene, contact the expert recruiters at grapefrute.