by David Maher, Head of Strategy, Consumer Products, Europe.
Collaboration takes many forms for manufacturers in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) and food and beverage (F&B) industries. It could mean product strategy leaders working together to revamp internal processes that speed up the time it takes to get products on shelves. Or it could mean companies establishing strategic partnerships with suppliers to boost product innovation.
All these forms of collaboration are crucial for CPG and F&B—two industries with highly specific product development requirements for regulatory compliance, quality management, and product marketing claims. Collaboration, enabled by automation, streamlines these processes by making it easier for stakeholders to quickly communicate and exchange essential data about product development.
And efficiency is more important than ever as competition and consumer demand consistently grow: In 2023, 42% of U.S. consumers expect to spend more on groceries and household items, while 89% are being more mindful of how, where, and what they buy as they prioritize saving money amid recession woes.
I lead Veeva’s consumer products strategy team in Europe, where we work with companies like Nestlé, Unilever, and Reckitt to provide them with solutions that automate their internal processes—from quality assurance and compliance, to supplier communications. And as partners to the CPG and F&B companies with more than 130 years of collective industry experience, my team and I know firsthand the importance of collaboration in these areas.
But without technology, collaboration is manual, unstructured, and challenging for everyone involved. Veeva’s technology plays a critical role in taking collaboration from an unstructured to a structured process—enabling companies to focus more on creating safe, trustworthy products for their customers.
Industry-tailored technology improves brand-supplier relationships
Based on conversations with our customers, we’ve learned that communication is one of the biggest challenges that CPGs and F&Bs encounter. Product information about ingredients and manufacturing practices is often siloed and difficult to gather, yet companies need this data to ensure quality assurance, compliance with government regulations, and validated claims.
For example, a sunscreen company may need to confirm that its ingredients are organic or whether it contains anything potentially harmful to ensure it meets the requirements to include certain claims on its label. Traditionally, the company would collect that information through inefficient methods like email, meetings, or spreadsheets—a long, tedious, and unstructured process.
Our cloud-based platform largely automates these interactions between companies and suppliers. By centralizing and unifying data, the platform reduces the effort it takes for brands to get the information they need and modernizes their operations, which saves them time and frees them up to focus on product innovation.
Suppliers get notifications that a company needs certain product data, and they’re able to log into the platform and fill out that information. The companies are automatically alerted when the data is available and they're able to easily access the information with a single click. Suppliers can also proactively input data as it becomes available to accelerate operations even further.
An automated, cloud-based platform digitizes and modernizes the way manufacturers and suppliers communicate, advancing the overall product development process and brand-supplier relationship. Additionally, it helps companies unlock the data they need to analyze in order to make strategic decisions that will refine their products.
This type of digitization for CPG and F&B is still in early stage adoption, but we are already seeing early markers of success. Anecdotally, our customers have shared that they’re saving time when accessing product information, making greater progress in product data traceability and visibility, and seeing their supplier relationships improve.
Structure your people, processes, and data to push collaboration forward
Veeva’s cloud-based platform doesn’t just help companies work more efficiently with their suppliers. It also enables quality, supply chain, regulatory and product stewardship teams to collaborate more effectively internally, which is equally essential for business success. The end goal for all CPG and F&B teams should be to automate non-value adding work so that they can put more of their time and effort into the creative, strategic efforts that truly drive productivity and ROI for their business.
For example, having team members spend time manually processing inbound certificates of analysis for products doesn’t actually drive value—it’s a process that we know can be evolved by adopting automation.
Once this happens, team members can turn their focus toward fixing significant issues that are hindering a product from getting on shelves. If a company is struggling to meet requirements for certain health or environmental claims because their suppliers are using potentially harmful ingredients in their sunscreen such as oxybenzone or homosalate, they’ll now have more time to perform a root cause analysis and fix the problem by working with their suppliers to identify alternative ingredients.
Creating a roadmap for structuring and streamlining the way people work, the way processes are performed, and the way data is used at a company will build a foundation for more productive collaboration—inside and outside of organizations. And our current cloud-based platform is only the beginning. Our philosophy here at Veeva is to truly understand our customers’ needs and be their voice. Not only do we develop solutions that we believe will meet the needs of CPGs and F&Bs broadly, but also ensure that individual clients’ needs are reflected in our products. We’re just getting started.
Learn more about how Veeva’s industry expertise and technology enhances teamwork among brands and suppliers, and product teams here.