NORTHBROOK, ILL.—UL, Underwriters Laboratories, announced the 2012 findings of its annual global study, The Product Mindset, which examines manufacturer and consumer perceptions about how products are made, sold, bought and consumed. This year’s findings, culled from interviews with manufacturers and consumers in the United States, China, Germany and India, show a steep decline in optimism and increased expectations about quality, safety and the environment. These expectations are driving more complex supply chain dynamics, where traceability and sourcing are the tools manufacturers are leveraging to help deliver reliable, cost-effective products that consumers are demanding.
“The volatility in today’s world is causing companies and people to look at the products they make and consume with more scrutiny than ever before,” said Keith Williams, UL CEO. “We are seeing manufacturers showcase aspects of their supply chain as consumers demand more transparency. Where a product’s made, how it’s made and what’s in it are paramount.”
The study reveals that product safety remains fundamental and that the environmental orientation of a manufacturer’s operations and the product features are growing in importance. Specifically, the study highlights the growing concerns about the origins of manufactured products including where their components and raw materials are sourced.
“It is clear from this year’s report that supply chain issues are top of mind for global manufacturers but also in the line of sight of consumers in both developed and emerging economies,” said Clyde Kofman, UL chief strategy officer. “The report strongly suggests that these trends will accelerate in the coming years as manufacturers strive to meet consumer demand for increased quality and safety in the things they purchase and use.”
Key Insights from the Study
• Manufacturers are strategically managing increasingly complex supply chains to improve operations and quality and to reduce costs. As a result, global sourcing is likely to expand to new countries in the coming years.
• Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated about global supply chain issues, including where products and their components are made and whether global manufacturers and their suppliers are providing ethical working environments for employees. Furthermore, manufacturers are noting increased pressure for transparency related to product, component and raw material sourcing.
• Manufacturers believe that product safety is increasing in importance to consumers and delivering it is critical to their business success.
• Most consumers do not believe manufacturers use the best possible raw materials, ingredients or components in their products.
• Manufacturers in both developed and emerging nations have a significantly more favorable opinion about the quality of materials sourced from developed markets than about those from emerging markets.
Click here to access additional study findings.