Beyond The Label: 6 Ways To Turn FLMA Into Competitive Advantage For Your Brand

The Food Label Modernization Act (FLMA), which is set to be finalized in early 2016, represents a fantastic opportunity for brands to gain a competitive advantage, says Bruce Levinson, VP of Client Engagement at SGK. 

FLMA is about way more than just a label change and that’s because the root cause of the FLMA legislation is not political; it is consumer-driven. There is a groundswell need for greater transparency and education in the food industry, Bruce explained in his latest BrandSquare Live Session. Simply put, consumers are looking to make more informed decisions about the food they buy for their families. 

Here are six ideas you should start considering now, to be better prepared for the upcoming label change.

1.    Know what consumers expect from your brand.
Take time to uncover critical insights around the role of your brand and your category in the life of your consumers. A few thought starters are: Does your brand provide basic nourishment or indulgence? How involved is your shopper in reading labels? Is this consistent for all retail channels? How do consumers think of your competition regarding health and wellness? 

2.    Anticipate changes to serving sizes.
Ask “what if” serving sizes changed to reflect consumption. If this happened, how would consumers likely respond? What current claims would need to change? What education would be required for retailers, shoppers and consumers? What would put you at a competitive edge? More importantly, think about what information would be most credible and compelling to consumers. This will give you the best chance to win in your category.

3.    Seize competitive advantage.
Use FLMA as an opportunity to take bold, decisive action. This might mean reformulating an existing product to better align with consumer expectations or needs. Or it could be time to consider repackaging your existing product to promote more responsible consumption behavior. New product innovation could also deliver better-for-you mixes, have fewer ingredients and tap into how consumers may respond to new visibility about the nutritional value of your category.

4.    Understand your true design equities and assets.
If the Nutrition Facts box grows in size, this might require you to reposition packaging artwork, which could present a design challenge. The time to evaluate what elements are critical to keep and which have some leeway is now! Consider which elements are critical to maintain no matter what, and on the flip side, which elements can you afford to change or move?

5.    Touch packaging only once.
Make every touch count! This piece of advice is really about determining which other design changes should be made while you are touching the nutrition label. Likewise, coordinate label changes at the same time as any planned redesigns. Don’t design it twice in the 2-year compliance window. The same goes for POS material, shippers and any secondary packaging.

6.    Assemble the right cross-functional team.
This sounds obvious but coordinating all the components and stakeholders requires an informed, agile and experienced team. Assemble the right people now so that you can begin planning. The right team will help you conduct an impact audit, define processes, assign task owners, establish governance, estimating budget requirements and formalize success metrics.

FLMA is a great chance for prepared brands to turn a discontinuous market event into competitive advantage. Winners will think beyond the label and plan for changes that meet consumers’ need for better, more transparent labeling. Watch Bruce Levinson’s BrandSquare webinar: How to Turn FLMA Into Your Competitive Advantage on YouTube.

Don't forget to visit Label Central for everything you need to know about the upcoming nutrition facts label update.