CEO Robert Craven has pushed the company’s transparency stance in recent years, calling it “Big T Transparency”. The program includes being open about ingredient sourcing and even having cameras whose feeds customers can tap into to see what’s going on inside the production facility in New Hampshire. But the new initiative takes that a step farther by opening a door into the company’s product development process.
The project, which the company has dubbed The Gummy Bare All Initiative, will chronicle the complete development process of the company’s new real food gummy-style supplements – from concept to finish. Customers will also have the opportunity to not only follow in real-time the evolution of the products from conception to market, but will also be able to directly weigh in on key product decisions along the way through several avenues that will include live monthly interactive updates, new customer liaison positions and a virtual advisory panel of 15 to 20 customers who are being signed up at the moment.
Higher cost is worth it
The inclusion of this level of customer input is sure to extend the development process, thereby increasing the cost. But Craven said he believes it will be worth it.
“I think the cost of this thing is going to be outweighed by the trust we will build with the customers,” Craven told NutraIngredients-USA. “We are committed to sharing our new product pipeline as a way to demonstrate our commitment to transparency.”
“We are taking out time because this is new category for us. Typically it takes us nine to 12 months to launch a product in a category that is familiar to us. For a new ingredient it could take us two to three years. We have given ourselves 15 months for this gummy launch,” he said.
Craven said the company is eager to see what can be learned from engaged consumers who stand outside of the typical product development process. In particular, he though consumers might have valuable insight into the best labeling solutions and how to communicate the value of the products to other consumers.
Craven said that openness will extend to some aspect of the business that other companies often hold as proprietary information, such as ingredient sources and the identity of contract manufacturing partners.
“I don’t anticipate that there will be anything in this process that we will need to hide as a trade secret. One of the advantages is that we make a lot of our own ingredients,” he said.
“It will be consistent with the MegaFood principles: no pesticides, no herbicides, no GMO, no soy, no gluten. We are very proud of the farm fresh partnerships we’ve got; we buy 500,000 lbs of organic produce every year for our vitamins, and some of that will go into the gummies,” Craven said.