The Consumer Goods Forum has created and 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 are meant to 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.

The consumer goods forum

There’s nothing more important than trust. Once you have lost it, it takes a lot to get it back, if ever. But whether consumers realize it or not, they have given up their data and privacy in a number of ways – from being on Facebook, to using Facebook connect- or other social / digital tools, to opting into sweepstakes, etc…. So the big question I have is, is this too late? What happens to all the consumer data that companies already have? How does a consumer get their privacy back if they choose not to allow a company or companies to have / use their data? Can they revoke their data?

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.”

And while that is appreciated, there are hundreds of vendors who are counting on consumer / customer data to provide personalization. If consumers choose somehow to undo or at least stop the sharing of their data going forward, how will all these vendors be able to deliver on the premise and promises they are making brands today?

It’s a rock and a hard place. As a marketer, you want the data. As a consumer, you may or may not be so excited about sharing your data, once you realize who has your data and how it’s being used. The trade-off, i.e., the value one gets for giving up the data has to be consistently more than the downsizes of giving up the data. The question to consumers is, “What’s the price they want pay for giving up data?” What we most often exchange at the moment is time. We don’t want to fill in a forum, so we use a social media connector – which then has the right to all the data we put on that site.

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. I wonder how many consumers were involved in the committee? Hopefully an equal representation to the other experts.

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.

Those all seem like good things. But are they things consumers care about? What else do consumers want? Or maybe consumers have given up and are just accustom to the lack of data privacy and won’t revolt. There’s those that think a B.I.G. revolt is coming soon. Others that think that consumers will want to revolt, but it’s really too late. What do you think? Is it too late?


VP and Principal Analyst

Constellation Research, Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Provide Great Customer Experiences.

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.