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Product Claims' Digital Transformation: Summit Day 4 Recap

On the final day of the Veeva Industries’ Virtual Summit, we introduced attendees to what is one of the most important and risky areas brands face today: advertising and product claims. Claims management is critical to any organization as claims are the lifeblood of innovation and brands, conveying efficacy, value, and even purpose. Executive leaders shared their vision for claims management and provided advice on how they have approached the journey to reimagine claims management at their respective companies.

Day four’s sessions included “Leading the Journey to Reimagine Claims Management for Innovation and Growth” and a session focused on “Sustainability Claims - A Double-Edged Sword.” 

Key Industry Speakers

And as was the case with the previous Summit sessions, presentations were led by some of the most prominent experts in their field. Speakers for the day four sessions included:

Session 1: Leading the Journey to Reimagine Claims Management for Innovation and Growth

Advertising and product claims management can be a driver of innovation and growth, and many leading global consumer goods companies are in the process of transforming their efforts. 

An agile claims process can be a key competitive advantage given the pace of new product launches and marketing today. Still, the cross-functional nature of claims management and the historical lack of a central “claims function” can make the process of transformation a challenge. 

With that in mind, this panel explored what is driving the modernization of claims management for the companies the panelists represent, and whether it was a single event or a combination of factors building over time. 

“For Unilever, it was more a combination of factors including technology and the availability of increasingly user-friendly fit-for-purpose solutions that were available in the marketplace, together with the recognition of the need for speed and the potential for the simplification and harmonization that can come through working better across different functions,” Wei Ling Lim, Global General Counsel, Business Operations at Unilever said. “Claims management is very much a cross-functional endeavor.”

The process was much the same at Estée Lauder with a few additions.

“On top of all the things that Wei Ling said, which is exactly the same for our company, there were two factors,” Constance Howlett, Vice President, R&D E2E Claims Transformation at Estée Lauder said. “One was COVID-19, where you no longer had a team of people that sit on the same floor in the same building who could collaborate the way that they always did, so there was a need for more digital collaboration tools. The second piece is that over time our consumers have gotten smarter in terms of the information that they're looking for.” 

If a company doesn’t have everything digitized, it can't leverage the information it knows is available, and neither can the consumer.

“At Kraft Heinz, we see the claim as a key factor to drive differentiation with consumers because they are looking for more than just great products,” Christel Adam, Consumer Culinary Experience Director IZ at Kraft Heinz said. 

“Through better management of claims, we better understand what works and what does not work with consumers,” Adams said. “Consumers know more and more and want to know more and more about what is in their products, and with digital consumer claims, there is a way to reinforce the strength of the claims of the products.

And although a digital transformation can simplify the claims management process, the process isn’t without its challenges. To overcome them, it’s critical to have buy-in from everyone who will be affected, from those in the C-suite to those who have their fingers on the keyboard.

“It's all about communication and bringing people into the journey because, in the scheme of things, nobody likes to change,” Howlett said. “Particularly, the only person that likes the change is the person that's leading it. The phrase that I keep telling people is that we're not changing what you do; we're changing how you do it. That's the sort of mantra that we're using throughout this digital journey.”

Hear these experts’ full conversation by registering or logging in to watch on-demand. 

Session 2: Sustainability Claims - A Double-Edged Sword Panel

ESG and Sustainability claims have become a competitive imperative for companies across industries. Consumers are demanding to know what the companies from which they buy stand for, and what’s in the products they use and consume. Companies that wish to sell products and survive have no choice but to make sustainability claims.

Still, sustainability claims are relatively new, standards are often evolving or even undefined, and they vary by region. What steps can companies take to make claims and still remain safe from accusations of greenwashing or cause washing?

This cross-functional panel explores these and other questions, offering actionable advice for others to leverage in their own companies.

“One of the biggest changes has been the pervasiveness of these claims,” La Toya Sutton, Director of Legal, Marketing & Communications at Clorox said. “These are not new concepts, but the number and the specificity that we're seeing with these types of claims grows and grows every year.”

For example, a common claim was that a product used recycled plastic, Sutton said, but now there are claims about whether the recycled plastic is post-consumer recycled plastic or industrial waste. There are even claims about products using reclaimed ocean-bound plastic, so there's so much more nuance to this area and to the ad claims that are appearing.

Additionally, these claims appear in all kinds of media and in all kinds of products, ranging from food to personal care to cleaning products. The NAD, the advertising industry's self-regulatory body, has been monitoring the frequency of such claims.

“NAD has encountered those cases over the years, but there's certainly been an uptick lately,” Eric Unis, Senior Attorney at BBB National Programs, National Advertising Division said. “Part of NAD’s role in this is filling the gaps where there is less specific guidance. Hopefully, that is helpful to marketers out there who are working with these claims.”

And Green Seal, founded in 1989, has certified about 30,000 products that have been shown to have achieved sustainability metrics according to the organization’s product category standards.

“There's some research from Northwestern’s Kellogg School that shows that social media has played a really big role in consumer interest and demand for sustainably labeled products,” Doug Gatlin, CEO at Green Seal said

“Interestingly, especially with digital natives who spend a lot more time on their phones, there is a lot of social signaling about wanting to make sure that they're buying products that make a statement about their values,” Gatlin said. “According to the Kellogg study, 22% of Gen Z and Millennials are willing to pay 20% more for products that are certified as sustainable, so there's a shift away from the idea that sustainability has to trade off against performance and price. It's now being seen more as an actual feature of the product.”

Brands are responding, but making such claims can be risky. A global sweep of websites by the International Consumer Protection Network representing about 70 countries found that 40% of green claims made online could be considered misleading. It’s critical that companies have an efficient way to back up the claims they make.

“There are concerns from a reputation standpoint that are obviously significant for companies, but also from a legal risk mitigation standpoint,” Gatlin said.  “I’m glad to see the growth in demand, but there are some steps to watch out for in terms of managing your portfolio.”

Veeva Industries Summit 2022 Wrap-Up 

Regulated industries face an ever-changing minefield of challenges across quality, regulatory, and product claims management. Veeva's product leadership can help these industries address those challenges, ensuring regulatory compliance at all operation phases and assisting in maximizing the bottom line.

If you were unable to attend one or more days of the Veeva Industries’ Virtual Summit, you still have the opportunity to access all of the informative and timely discussions held during the course of the 4-day event. View the full agenda and access recordings of the sessions here. There is no cost to access event material.

Veeva Industries

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