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Survey Shows Consumers Are Tuned In to Supply Chain Complexity

Consumers are aware of an increasingly complex, global supply chain and have a growing interest in the traceability of products and product parts, according to a new survey conducted by UL (Underwriters Laboratories).

The study, “Navigating the Product Mindset,” explores the connections and contradictions between perceptions of consumers and manufacturers on issues of safety, innovation, performance and sustainability. Opinions were collected from consumers and manufacturers in China, India, Germany, and the U.S. across industries in high tech, food, building materials, and household chemicals.

The survey found that consumers are more interested in knowing about the origin of a product's parts/ingredients than they are with where a product is assembled.

Other key insights from the study include:

  • Geography and culture play the largest role in shaping perceptions about products. For instance, consumers feel product quality is 41% higher in developed countries versus emerging countries.
  • Manufacturers in emerging markets rate themselves as being ahead of the curve regarding both product and operational sustainability more than manufacturers in developed markets.
  • Product safety and performance are the top two considerations that impact today's Product Mindset for both consumers and manufacturers.

Specific findings include:

  • 75 percent of consumers feel manufacturers have not taken adequate steps to ensure that environmentally friendly manufacturing procedures are followed. Only 9% of manufacturers stated designing sustainable products is their most important consideration impacting their ability to compete.
  • More than 90% of manufacturers are confident that they are ahead of the curve in delivering safety, reliability and sustainability. In contrast, 70% of consumers feel manufacturers do not conduct thorough testing before launching new products.
  • Chinese manufacturers are nearly two times more likely than American manufacturers to value product innovation. American manufacturers are almost five times more likely than Chinese manufacturers to value speed to market.
  • Innovation emerges as the most important consideration impacting manufacturers' ability to compete in the future. However, manufacturers overestimate the significance of innovation to consumers.
  • 56 percent of consumers believe where fresh and processed food is assembled/manufactured will become increasingly important over the next five years.

Last week, UL Environment launched a new sustainability certification program that has been adopted by LG Electronics and Intuit, among others.

Bart King is a PR consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications

Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also Associate Editor of Sponsored Content for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_king [Read more about Bart King]

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