Earning and preserving consumer trust is paramount in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry. Whereas efficacy is still a strong criteria for buying, people have become more inclined to buy products that are transparent in their ingredients, communicating how they might affect their health and whether they’re environmentally-friendly. In fact, products that put forward claims related to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) averaged 28% cumulative retail sales growth from 2018 to 2022, compared to 20% growth for products without those claims.
But the challenge is that industry expectations, at a consumer level and a government level, are changing rapidly, too. With more than 20 years of experience in quality and manufacturing in the CPG industry, I’ve learned that speed of innovation and getting products on shelves quickly are key to keeping up with the pace of the market. What makes a good product today might not be the same tomorrow.
A few examples: the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022—which the FDA introduced to ensure the safety of cosmetics—as well as China’s new Cosmetics Regulation CSAR and the European Green Deal. All of these introduce new requirements for product design and the way products are supplied, manufactured and distributed. Employee safety is also a priority with these new regulations, which focus on increasing the level of constraints for manufacturers.
And there are other pressures to consider as well. To stay competitive in the market, companies must innovate their supply chain operations quickly to deliver better business outcomes. CPGs must maintain healthy relationships with suppliers to ensure supply chains operate in ways that enable their brands to meet external demands. Suppliers have to become more integrated within companies’ core business objectives.
CPG companies that still rely on legacy, manual quality assurance systems and tools will struggle to keep up. There’s too much room for error, and they’re simply too slow to support the rapid pace of innovation and market competition. More CPG companies are adopting digital transformation—a Gartner 2022 survey on tech-buying behavior found that 55% of CPG manufacturers are seeking to improve operational efficiency and productivity by investing in digital. Companies that hesitate to transform will fall behind.
Modernizing quality and HSE management through automation and digitalization is vital to preserving brand trust and reputation—and for driving better business outcomes.
Manual processes overwhelm quality teams and delay production
Effective internal and external collaboration, process efficiency, and accurate and reliable data are at the core of successful quality and HSE management. Being able to retrieve real-time performance data is crucial to drive continuous improvement, allowing companies to be more agile in tackling processes like non-conformity investigations, Corrective and Preventative Actions (CAPA) resolutions, management reviews, and annual product quality reviews (APQR).
At the same time, consumer brands have to stay on top of routine tasks such as employee health and safety routines, managing production outputs, ensuring audit readiness, and launching new products. The ability to do this quickly requires collaboration among every supply chain entity, from R&D and production to quality, engineering, and suppliers.
Typically, efficient collaboration and exchange of data is an uphill journey for CPGs. Quality control teams have to manually source documents, re-enter data, or verify information with suppliers or shop floors. All of these details, which need to be confirmed to get products released for distribution, live in spreadsheets that are fragmented, duplicated or stored in personnel folders, and difficult to find and access. Manually managing crucial information leads to time wasted and critical errors.
All teams contributing to business deliveries have to manage and share information. The systems they use such as Excel aren’t viable because they’re not collaborative tools and cannot be scaled. To remain market leaders, CPGs need to transform their approach by streamlining business processes through digital solutions such as Veeva’s cloud-based platform, which unifies data and makes it easy for companies to shift to digital processes.
Automation and digitization drive productivity
As CPGs move to adopt digitization, leaders across company teams must remember that new solutions should be exactly that: solutions, rather than constraints. For digital adoption to be effective, everyone at the company, regardless of their level of competency, must be able to easily use new technologies. When integration and implementation is simple and intuitive, users experience value faster, which includes more efficient data exchange and collaboration.
Veeva keeps simplicity in mind as it works with its CPG customers to spearhead the evolution of quality and HSE management with its cloud-based solutions. For example, Veeva’s Vault solution integrates with customers’ ERP and PLM systems to move data from spreadsheets into a single, unified, digital hub, making information accessible in real-time. Veeva also provides applications that enable teams to digitize core processes like quality management or HSE, and ensure they see continuous improvement.
One of our customers, Reckitt, is experiencing the benefits of digitization first hand. The consumer hygiene, health, and nutrition company partnered with Veeva to replace its legacy quality management systems—which were historically disconnected within the organization—with a modern, cloud-based technology infrastructure that streamlines data, documents, and processes into a single hub. This digital transformation is improving transparency and operational agility across the company and, in turn, helping the company drive revenue by speeding up the time it takes to get products to market.
The Reckitt partnership also highlights how Veeva works with customers to ensure that getting new digital tools up and running is easy and seamless. We aim to simplify how companies move data in and out of the cloud application, with tools like public APIs, ad hoc and self-service reporting, and data loading and exporting utilities.
“We’re taking the opportunity to reduce complexity, because that is the enemy of progress and growth, and simplifying our processes with this intuitive platform,” says Breda Quinn, Global Transformation Quality Director at Reckitt. “The system is not only user-friendly, but its ease of use allowed our team to re-imagine the process.”
Moving forward with modernization
As consumer preferences and product standards continue to change, regulatory and quality processes will have to as well. Brands will only be able to keep up if they have the technology and expertise to easily spot issues that hinder getting products on shelves, and the operational processes to solve those issues quickly.
But success is not just about keeping up. In order to drive long-term business growth, CPG leaders and brands need to ensure that improvements are continuous. Modernizing quality and HSE is the only way brands will be able to continuously innovate and adapt their products to meet new demand.
Having a technology partner with a roadmap and tools to do so will help brands establish a foundation for improvement that will ultimately benefit them, their suppliers, and their customers. Contact me to set up time to explore the possibilities for your organization.