SC Johnson Addresses Ingredient Transparency at RIFM

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RIFM's annual meeting on the waterfront of Weehawken, NJ discussed the transparency and other key topics for the fragrance industry.

Transparency has been, and continues to be, a hot topic in the fragrance industry.

For this reason, the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials' (RIFM) annual meeting in Weehawken, New Jersey provided an update on the safety assessment program and shed some light on ingredient transparency initiatives with a talk by member company SC Johnson.

RIFM president, James Romine, began the meeting speaking about RIFM's safety assessment program. "RIFM's safety assessment program is delivering amazing results," he said. "We will meet the 2017 goal of accessing over 400 fragrance materials through the safety assessment program," Romine added.  

The RIFM database holds the safety data on fragrance and flavor ingredients. The association received 700 member company studies into the RIFM Database. RIFM has 70 member companies, and under its agreement with International Organization of the Flavor Industry (IOFI), it will add 100 more studies as well. 

Kelly Semrau, senior vice president, global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability at SC Johnson, talked about the importance of transparency in the age of NGOs, activism pressure on brands, retailers and governments, as well as the democratization of information. 

"Transparency signals to a consumer that you have nothing to hide and that builds trust." -- Kelly Semrau

"We have to earn the trust of every consumer [and] every government," Semrau said. "In the U.S. we find an incredible amount of activism ... many of these campaigns are at the state, federal and global level," she added. 

Revealing the Full Palette

SC Johnson's transparency journey began with its U.S. ingredient disclosure site in 2009, followed by a number of initiatives leading up to disclosing the full SC Johnson Fragrance Palette in 2012. It disclosed registered products in 2013, listed ingredient restrictions in 2014 and released a product-specific fragrance disclosure in 2015. It launched the first 100% transparent fragrance collection in 2016, followed by an European ingredient disclosure that same year. Further, the company is committed to skin allergen transparency by 2018.

"We know that transparency builds trust with consumers," Semrau said. Referring to a 2016 study by Label Insight, Semrau noted:

  • 56% say additional product information inspires more trust in a brand
  • 73% are willing to pay more for a product that proves oral transparency
  • 39% would switch to a new brand in the pursuit of product transparency
  • 94% are more likely to be loyal to a brand committed to full transparency 
  • 56% would be loyal forever to a brand that provides complete transparency
  • 86% of millennial moms would pay more for a fully transparent product

"Transparency signals to a consumer that you have nothing to hide and that builds trust," Semrau concluded.