Examining Factors That Lead to “Retail Regulation”

Overnight, it seems, a consumer product will be the target of public outrage. When it happens, companies are in reactionary mode. They act quickly, and sometimes they decide to voluntarily take products off the market.

Kate Sellers was curious about why some products are the targets of ‘retail regulation.’ At Stewardship 2015, she’ll lead the interactive session "Retail Regulation" in 20:20 Hindsight, where attendees will share their experiences in a neutral environment.

The session centers on a case study involving the “Ban the Bead” campaign that targeted microbeads in personal cleansing products. “These events can have profound business implications but often have to be dealt with pretty quickly,” says Sellers. “So let's look at a case study in the calmness of a meeting room rather than in crisis mode. Let's pick it apart and see what we can make of it.”

Sellers first researched the movement to ban microbeads while writing a book. “This is a case study that I assembled out of publicly available information,” she says. “I was surprised to find that there are hints in the literature of a very similar product that could give rise to the very same concerns, yet nobody cares about it. So what really intrigues me is, why did everybody jump on one product and not the other?”

Sellers hopes the case study will serve as catalyst to a wider discussion about the role of data in taking products off the market. “This particular product is only an example of something we encounter all the time,” she says. “As product stewards, we spend a lot of time looking at available data, looking at the requirements of regulations, and trying to bring products to market in a way that's safe and compliant. It’s useful to step back and say, ‘what were the factors that led to retail regulation of this product? What can we learn about how the general public makes decisions?’”

Andrew Brown

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