Responding to the need for more transparency in the nutraceuticals industry
Transparency and digitalization are undoubtedly the key future trends in the industry. With growing consumer awareness and consciousness, brands making a step forward and disclosing information on their supply chain can truly make the difference. New regulatory drivers, and the increasing adoption of technology, excessively used during the pandemic, are expected to accompany and support industrials’ traceability through digitalization.
But what is transparency exactly? Transparency is, at its core, about protecting consumers and ensuring the sustainability of the industry. Low-quality dietary supplements do not deliver what consumers expect. Negative media coverage on supplement quality reduces consumer purchase intent, and correspondingly the number of people who receive the many benefits of nutritional supplements.
Consumers expect dietary supplements to deliver on their Primary Promise – to provide all active ingredients listed on the label in the amounts listed. Only active ingredients comply with the health and structure-function claims associated with the nutrients. Only ingredients in the correct amounts comply with a product’s content label claim. Consumers do not want to be unknowingly overdosed or underdosed. An accurate label claim
ensures the ability of consumers to monitor intake.
There is another level of promises to consumers, one which is typically not communicated on packaging. Consumers likely take these promises for granted. The Secondary Promises each product makes are:
- Scientific evidence: Official health and structure-function claims signify that the biological mode of action of a substance is proven in clinical trials.
- Compliance: Dietary supplements exist in a grey zone between medicines and foods, though as they are intended to supplement the general diet, they are legally food-related. Food Law defines the requirements for food supplements, and for the nutrients/ingredients used within. These requirements must be fully met.
- Safety: Food supplements must be free of chemical, biological, and physical hazards/impurities and must never jeopardize the safety of the consumer. They must be made exclusively from safe ingredients.
- Purity of dietary supplements: The absence of allergens, genetically modified substances, solvent residues, doping substances, etc. must be fully documented and demonstrated.
- Purity of ingredients: The purity requirements of a dietary supplement can only be met if the conditions apply equally to all individual components. For example, all ingredients must be free of heavy metals. For this purpose, regulatory bodies refer to specific purity requirements, which are recorded in the law or monographs for each nutrient, ingredient, and excipient. The Food Chemical Codex (FCC) or the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) are two examples of such monographs. All ingredients must fully comply with these monographs.
- Stability: The stability of nutrients is essential for the fulfillment of product promises. Active nutraceutical substances must comply with the label claim for the entire shelf life. However, many ingredients are not stable in specific formulations. As a result, they may fall short of label claim not long after the preparation of the product – something which cannot be verified by the consumer. The addition of an overage is usually not a sufficient solution and there are legal limits regarding overage. Consumers trust labels, and as such, products must comply with the label.
Transparency allows consumers to understand the value chain and check whether the made promises are held. More than ever, consumers wish to play an active role in consumption. They demand transparency and the opportunity to make an informed decision, to choose the right product fitting their needs and values. Where does this product come from, how was it made, what’s in there? Scanning a product to access more
information than the label can display – or wishes to – is a new habit. Earning trust might become a prerequisite in near future. As some stakeholders harm the industry with poor quality products, and food authorities fail to fight frauds, the need for an independent, 3rd party testing authority is emerging. Kappa Bioscience and Kezzler are committed to offering the best quality products to end-consumers. Through our collaboration, we make the first move to respond to the need for more transparency in the nutraceuticals industry.
To be reliable in the eyes of consumers, a self-governed transparent approach might not be sufficient. Whether a dietary supplement fulfills all its promises can only be determined through independent analysis, by a qualified laboratory. In many countries, Food Law has gaps in the number of product tests required and their verification. An independent, 3rd party testing authority would not only help consumers get more information from brands, but also ensure compliance and data accuracy. This is crucial for brand credibility.
Digitalization and serialization offer a unique opportunity of bringing the “insight in the bottle” towards consumers, allowing them to strengthen their relationship to the brand.
Kezzler offers a cloud-based traceability platform, which supports transparent brand communication and interaction with the consumers. With serialization, each product becomes traceable and interactive, through a unique ID code. The Kezzler platform provides a special opportunity for brands to easily integrate steps and components of the manufacturing process, share quality analyses data, accessible via a QR code directly displayed on the product label. Unique, secure, traceable. Future-proof.
Scanning a code to access more information may also present an opportunity for brands to offer more information about their products’ USPs, to connect with their consumers, spark a conversation. As consumers seek for education, digitalization tools create the connection that allows for marketing and communication to directly speak with their clients.
Connected products enable brands to offer an enhanced consumer experience, they are able to utilize every single product as a brand-owned digital marketing channel. The product itself acts as a new key touchpoint, offering more in-depth information than can be displayed on a traditional label. This information can be made accessible to everyone, including the differently-abled to ensure inclusivity for all.
Connected products are always-on and can deliver personalized and context-aware consumer engagement experiences seamlessly across multiple sales channels and geographies. The value-added content is delivered on the product itself, in real-time and can be adjusted on the go. Promotions and campaigns can be run online or in-store and in cooperation with or independently of retailers.
Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious and seeking greater transparency from brands. Traceability and serialization will be major assets for companies in the coming years. Whether it is to share information regarding content, quality analysis data, supply chain, health benefits, marketing differentiation, advice, and recommendations, or sustainability data like environmental footprint and recycling information, a connected product offers multiple advantages in terms of transparency, consumer trust, and brand reliability.
The Connected Product Advantage
New key touchpoint
Kezzler UIDs allow brands to easily implement consumer engagement and retention programs directly through the product. Connected products offer a real incentive for consumers to engage with the brand.
Value-added content is delivered on the product itself, in real-time, and based on the actual interests of the consumer. Brands can stay relevant in the moments that matter, traditional marketing can’t keep up in the same way.
Enhanced product experience
Whatever the sales channel, connected products act as a brand-owned digital marketing channel to deliver in-depth information about the product’s origin, contents, journey, and sustainability story including recycling guidelines.
Capture last-mile data
Irrespective of the place of purchase or last-mile channel, connected products empower brands to capture last-mile data. New consumer insights help drive better decision making leading to improved customer acquisition and retention.
As consumers seek greater transparency, digitalization tools create the connection that allows brands to communicate directly with their customers to build trust and loyalty.
Piet de Vriendt
Sr. Business Development Manager