The New York Times of June 14, 2009 announced that Dara O'Rourke, professor of environmental policy, University of California, Berkeley, had launched a website, GoodGuide.com, the purpose of which is to provide consumers with more information about consumer products: When a name is entered, one obtains all the nutritional, environmental and social information concerning it, and information about the company that introduced it in the market.
The objective is to measure the impact of each product on (See the methodology adopted here):
- Consumer health when using the product;
- The health of the employees of the companies - by analyzing methods of production and the risks involved;
- Environment - Analysis of the life cycle of the product (among other criteria);
- Society - Analysis of the social policies of the companies, governance, etc ...
This is a proper expert system, that gathers information from dozens of independent sources. More than 70,000 products in food, beauty, home maintenance, etc. have been analyzed and recorded. The beta version currently available, gives the average prices found on the Web for certain products. We learn that the cereal best rated is "Nature's Path Organic Kamut Puffs" (rating of 8.3 out of 10)… and another organic product has the lowest rating: "Kashi, Strawberry Fields Organic Cereal" (rated 4.1)."What we're trying to do is flip the whole marketing world on its head", said Mr. O'Rourke. "Instead of companies telling you what to believe, customers are making the statements to the marketers about what they care about".
To illustrate this reversal of power, it is worth noting that the iPhone has an application that scans the barcode of a product on the shelves: All the GoodGuide information concerning this product is then downloaded.
Brands must be vigilant and anticipate the development of such initiatives - which I will put on a par with the announcement of the Sustainability Index by Walmart. They will have to reflect on the consequences of this converging movement of consumers and some retailers (mostly American) and therefore fundamentally rethink their values to align them with the fundamental values of the new ethics of consumption that we see emerging before our eyes: respect and transparency.