Yesterday I was reading a post concerning Levi Strauss & Co as the Top Jeans Brand, scoring a 7.4. The brand Prana was listed as the next highest, with a score of 6.3—followed by H&M (6.1), Banana Republic (6.1), and Old Navy (6.1).
I did not know what GoodGuide is – shame on me – so I checked out their very interesting website, which is said to be the world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental and social impacts of consumer products. And I think it really is, rating over 95000 products, mainly available on the US market only: from food, toys, personal care to apparel, electronics and appliances. What is really striking is the scientific approach they have on their ratings, which are compiled from three sub-scores addressing Health, Environment and Society.
Each of these sub-scores are based on an analysis of a set of indicators that GoodGuide has determined are the best-available measures of performance in these areas. Their methodology differs from the product belonging to different categories, each and every one having its own scoring methodology. Amazing. Let’s talk about apparel for example.
Quoting the Good Guide site: “Until (apparel) companies do a better job of providing transparency into their supply chain, our ability to accurately score brands based on their relative performance will be subject to significant uncertainties Environment scores are assigned to apparel brands by combining GoodGuide’s standard company indicators of environmental performance (weighted at 50%) with brand-level environmental indicators that address issues that are specific to the apparel sector (weighted at 50%).(….) Social scores are assigned to apparel brands by combining GoodGuide’s standard company indicators of social performance (50%) with brand-level social indicators that address issues that are specific to the apparel sector (weighted at 50%).(…) Health scores are not assigned to apparel brands because this product category does not generally pose health risks to consumers.”
The Good Guide website is also very good at using the Web 2.0 tools to “spread the word” and improve the accuracy of the product information thanks to a “support product info” page which enables visitors to add further details.
It would be also very interesting to test the effect of this kind of structured and scientific information directly at the point-of-sale, to see how the consumer react when discovering that his/her favourite brand of pasta is not that “good”. Because thanks to GoodGuide mobile App this is possible: consumers can scan the product, check the GoodGuide database and then purchase, or decide to choose another brand.
With this detailed level of “scientific” information, producers and retailers have nothing to hide and their achieving a high/low score can have a boomerang effect on brand reputation which must not be ignored and will not be ignored by consumers. Sustainability pays, and it will pay even more in the future.