The rise of consumer power provides an incredible opportunity for regulatory teams to provide direct consumer business value. But to seize this opportunity, they need to reestablish their place in the organizational structure and modernize their operating model.
Historically, regulatory teams in the consumer product industry have been viewed as internal support organizations, called on to ensure products meet the various requirements of governments and authorities. The talent model has largely relied on technical competency, and the talent source has typically been R&D.
This is an outdated model because the stakeholders involved have changed. The underpinning force of change is the consumer.
Consumers, acting in concert with their NGO, local government and retailer proxies, have become a powerful voice demanding regulatory compliance, but also product transparency and faster regulatory change. Brands and manufacturers have responded in a myriad of ways, including through product disclosures, retailer commitments, and third party certifications.
Here are two essential strategies for innovative regulatory leaders to consider to maximize consumer business value.
Strategy 1. Focus on employee leadership and influence skills and increase their access to critical networks
In the face of high regulatory ambiguity, leadership and influence is the critical success factor. Regulatory professionals must drive forward action and enable decision-making in the face of significant uncertainty. Leaders must also ensure that regulatory professionals are actively engaged in the most effective forums, including:
Industry trade organizations to ensure that policy is based on credible science. At the recent Veeva Industries Executive Summit, Lynn Warner, Head, North America Regulatory at Givaudan said, “Advocacy and awareness is very important for us. So we are part of several trade organizations to ensure we’re able to support different regulations. This also gives us an opportunity to influence and evolve how these regulations come about in order to be a voice for all of our customers in the industry.”
This point was reinforced by Coca Cola’s Eva Hurt, who declared “We have to lead with the science.” This means regulatory teams need to become more vocal and better communicators, “to set the tone and go out and make this clearer, because if you’re not out there communicating someone else will,” reflected Hurt.
Product Innovation teams to make certain that products are designed from the ground up with compliance and transparency in mind. Consumer awareness of product safety issues can lead regulation by 10-20 years. Products that will stay on shelf need to account for the regulations of today and the future. “Our aspiration is being at step zero” in the product development process, said Colgate Palmolive’s Brian Slezak, and to be “able to involve ourselves earlier to be part of that mapping of the path” as a strategic partner to the business.
Customers and retailers to ensure product transparency underpins product value through differentiation. An organic, halal or PFAS-free product delivers value a consumer will pay for. Regulatory teams need strong customer-facing skills to help businesses answer questions, navigate complexity and position products effectively. “We take seriously our customer service experience and what we can provide to our customers,” said Warner.
Strategy 2. Digital transformation to maximize product speed, transparency and customer service
Regulatory teams need to be outfitted with the right systems and tools to manage complex business processes involving large data sets. It’s no longer acceptable to have PhDs “just sitting there doing spreadsheets and compliance” said Hurt.
A global CPG enterprise typically has a portfolio of thousands of SKUs sold in 100+ countries, across a variety of end markets that contain thousands of supplier raw materials. Each country and market can have its own requirements and every raw material must be assessed and tracked across that portfolio for ingredients that deliver benefits, concerns, risks and compliance.
Pankiewitz has taken Clorox’s regulatory team on a digital transformation journey. “At Clorox, our data lived in multiple areas with different owners, sometimes even stored in their heads,” she said. “My goal was to advocate for accessing that data: How can we put the data into a centralized location? How do we make it accessible so that we're having transparent interactions with our stakeholders? And how do we ensure that we have credibility and integrity for the data that we're generating?”
“End-to-end digitization not only helps us share data that’s required for compliance. It also allows us to communicate product attributes more transparently to our customers, retailers, and consumers.” - Eva Hurt, Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs North America, The Coca-Cola Company
For Consumer Products companies and businesses that seek to win consumers with superior products that are trusted, helping your regulatory teams become bigger influencers supported by digital product transparency will pay dividends in the battle to win the hearts and minds of consumers.
Learn more about how Veeva helps regulatory teams drive compliance process innovation and efficiency.