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Q&A: GoodGuide and UL Environment on Joining Forces
August 27, 2012
When news broke earlier this month about UL Environment’s acquisition of GoodGuide, we here at Sustainable Brands were excited by the possibilities and wanted to learn more. We asked both parties about what led to the acquisition, and how both companies expect to benefit.
Sara Greenstein – President, UL Environment
Scot Case – Director of Market Development, UL Environment
Dara O’Rourke – Co-Founder & CSO, GoodGuide
Why did UL decide to acquire GoodGuide?
Sara Greenstein: GoodGuide allows buyers to choose their own sustainability criteria and then find products that meet those criteria. We acquired GoodGuide because we recognize the value of giving consumers and other purchasers a way to source products based on information that they deem personally important; [it] helps us deliver buyer-customized information to consumers, institutional and government purchasers, and retailers.
Scot Case: In the early days, people were looking for basic understanding of what was more green; labels used to be enough, but now buyers want more information to underpin their purchasing decisions. UL wants to make sure it is capable of addressing the needs of any purchaser to understand the content and source of the products it is purchasing. After multiple discussions between GoodGuide and UL, it became clear we had the same agenda – enabling people to make scientific decisions about the products they buy.
How does the acquisition support your strategy?
Scot Case: From UL's perspective, with the acquisition of GoodGuide, UL Environment is now better equipped than ever to provide decision support for consumers, as well as businesses or institutional buyers. The combination of skills and assets of the two makes for a more powerful resource.
Sara Greenstein: By combining GoodGuide’s platform for data collection, data delivery, and product comparison with UL’s legacy of trust and third-party verification, we will be able to fill a growing marketplace need for clarity, credibility, and accessibility of information. This represents one of the many ways that UL is evolving and innovating to better serve manufacturers and their customers.
Dara O’Rourke: GoodGuide feels the partnership offers a variety of synergies – consumers see GG as offering a consumer POP information service but don't recognize the value or power of our back end. In fact, GG has a database platform that the rest of UL and its customers can now access – and potentially vice versa – so that brands, governments and institutions such as hospitals, governmental agencies, campuses, etc can have an increasingly robust tool for procurement decisions.
What you are hoping to accomplish as a result of the move?
Sara Greenstein: GoodGuide’s rating tool is an important part of its business: It helps consumers to customize their searches for products based on key issues that matter most to them. We plan to identify ways to enhance and optimize its application for both consumers and business customers as part of a longer-term integration plan.
Dara O’Rourke: GG has seen significant uptick in demand in the procurement space and feels their back end can serve as a tool for the broader set of UL customers and prospective customers. The organization is currently discussing priorities but definitely sees this as a significant opportunity for them to pursue as a result of the [acquisition].
Scot Case: Transparency, in terms of both environmental and social impact, continues to be a growing issue. As UL moves toward certification of various environmental and social claims (UL has 190 on the ground auditors verifying factory conditions in 130 countries), UL has been stepping up its ability to respond to this trend. With the acquisition of GG, UL will be even better positioned to serve the evolving needs of the market.