Have you ever ordered a meal that sounded delicious on the menu, but tasted terrible once it arrived at your table? Have you ever purchased the latest recording from your favorite musician only to find it lacking? No matter what the product or service, what you expect isn’t always what’s delivered.
For the past three years, UL, the product safety testing company, has been conducting a study of how manufacturers and consumers worldwide think and feel about the products they make, sell, purchase and use. Their latest discovered some surprising gaps between the priorities of consumers and manufacturers.
For example, 95 percent of manufacturers believe product quality is important, making it their No. 1 overall consideration. However, 51 percent of consumers think manufacturers use the lowest-cost materials in their products regardless of quality.
Similarly, 84 percent of manufacturers believe that consumer confidence in product safety is increasing, but 58 percent of consumers believe manufacturers value sales over safety.
Ninety-one percent of manufacturers report innovation is becoming more important, but 63 percent of consumers feel new products are brought to market faster than they’re needed.
Eighty-seven percent of manufacturers agree that consumers are becoming more interested in the potential health impact of products, but 39 percent of consumers think manufacturers do not provide enough health information.
Sixty-one percent of manufacturers agree their impact on the environment is more important than their impact on human health, but 61 percent of consumers think the opposite.
Ninety percent of manufacturers agree that the environment is becoming more important, but 40 percent of consumers think manufacturers are not doing enough in terms of environmentally friendly practices or products.
Eighty-four percent of manufacturers state internal and external stakeholders are increasingly demanding supply chain transparency, but 42 percent of consumers think manufacturers do not provide enough.
Sixty-nine percent of manufacturers agree that it’s very important to clearly show consumers what ingredients or components are included in their products, but 43 percent of consumers feel that manufacturers do not make it easy.
Although 78 percent of manufacturers acknowledge that consumers are concerned about the ethical treatment of workers throughout the supply chain, 71 percent of consumers think manufacturers have not taken adequate steps to ensure this.
While 86 percent of manufacturers believe that the regulations they deal with are already stringent, 74 percent of consumers feel manufacturers should be more strictly regulated.
Why the disconnect? One reason could simply be a deep-seated distrust of corporations. Or perhaps, in our media-centric society, we remember lapses (think tainted toy trains from China) more than we remember the products that exceed our expectations. Whatever the reasons, savvy design and marketing teams should see these results not as criticisms, but as opportunities to look for ways to better address consumer concerns. To read the survey for yourself, point your browser to http://productmindset.ul.com.