Consumer goods industry commits to new guidelines on consumer engagement and data privacy

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In order to help build trust with consumers and shape the way companies, retailers and manufacturers use consumer information that is collected digitally, The Consumer Goods Forum has announced that its Board of Directors has agreed on a new set of ‘Consumer Engagement Principles’ (the “Principles”). The industry-wide Principles will act as a framework for how companies engage with their consumers, and are designed to promote an environment of trust and pro-active consumer communication. The Principles will benefit all stakeholders as the industry looks to safeguard consumers’ data and nurture greater consumer trust. Capgemini supported the process throughout and provided necessary industry insights as part of the development process.

A platform for consumer trust

The launch of the Consumer Engagement Principles builds on the great work some companies have already done individually. However, with consumers now leaving ever-larger digital footprints with a growing trail of personal data, the Principles will help ensure constant and consistent communications with consumers across digital platforms globally.

Within the Principles, the consumer goods industry has committed to a number of positive actions in how companies deal with data-driven consumer engagement and data privacy. These proactive milestones include:

  • enabling consumers to easily choose whether and how their personal information is used and to have access to information on how their personal information is used, and the ability to correct it and/or have it removed;
  • listening and responding to consumer feedback about the use of their personal data;
  • preserving integrity in social media practices; and
  • protecting the reliability and accuracy of consumers’ personal information and, should things go wrong, being open about the status of their personal information.

The goal is to have consumers view the industry as a responsible user and steward of consumer data and insights – thus forming the common foundation from which the digitally enabled value exchange can be optimised by individual companies. And, in order to help industry-wide adoption of the Principles, The Consumer Goods Forum, together with Capgemini, will be hosting webinars in 2015 and developing an online portal dedicated to the Consumer Engagement Principles.

Collaborative action drives positive change

The Principles are the result of a number of ongoing, collaborative initiatives over the past year and a half. It’s a process that has involved a large group of global, industry experts from the retail, manufacturing and online sectors, as well as other strategic, value chain partners.

Capgemini, a long-time partner of The Consumer Goods Forum, played an important role – providing tools and hosting workshops – in helping members of The Consumer Goods Forum create this collaborative solution.

Pete Blackshaw, Nestlé Global Head of Digital & Social Media, who championed the CGF work, said: “Trust is viral, and can be lost in an instant in today’s networked, always-on environment.  The Consumer Engagement Principles are about taking an important first step in identifying common building blocks of trust in an increasingly complex, data and technology driven business context.  From consumer-control and enabling smarter feedback systems to greater transparency and proper social media disclosure, we’re committed to getting this right.”

Industry opinions – Muhtar Kent, chairman & CEO of The Coca-Cola Company

“This is a significant step. Not only will these guidelines help prevent misuses of consumer data, they will also help anticipate and address the digital and data privacy challenges that the industry faces. The Principles will involve consumers in how their personal information is used, and we encourage all consumer goods companies, large and small, to continue to strive for the highest standards of consumer protection.”

Industry Opinions – Motoya Okada, CEO of AEON 

“We need to safeguard our consumers’ data and the Consumer Engagement Principles are very much focused on achieving this. We should not expect to have trust by default. We need consistent integrity across the industry and we need to use this as a tool to continue to earn the trust of our consumers, and this is where The Consumer Goods Forum has been instrumental. A global framework that helps provide all these industry players with a common set of principles is a great achievement. Individual companies cannot solve these types of issues just by themselves. We need industry collaborations like this and The Consumer Goods Forum has provided the necessary platform.”

Muhtar Kent and Motoya Okada are also Co-Sponsors of The Consumer Goods Forum’s End-to-End Value Chain and Standards Pillar.