Third Party Verification: what is it and why does it matter to consumers?
Third-party verification can be applied to anything. It’s the process by which products and services are assessed objectively by a non-biased standards organisation. Verification essentially earns a product a seal of approval from a professional body and makes it easy for consumers to quickly identify quality and authenticity. In this case, it also helps shoppers to discern ethical products from non ethical products.
Third-party certification means that an independent organisation has reviewed the manufacturing process of a product and has independently determined that the final product complies with specific standards for safety, quality or performance. This is all well and good, but what if there are no objective standards for certain industries?
Who verifies products?
In order to make an educated purchasing decision, a consumer needs to know about manufacturing and supply chain, processes, environmental impact, living wages, human cost and many other factors. As it stands, there isn’t a single tool for verifying each of these factors, which is why we’re working to change that.
In the same way you might look for the Vegetarian Society logo or the BUAV cruelty free bunny on product packaging, you may look for a symbol that indicates something can be recycled or that it’s fair trade. Verification means consumers can trust the claims made on product packaging because they’ve been confirmed by a professional and impartial assessment body. Great news for shoppers calling for more transparency and clarity.
What are the benefits for brands?
Independent, third-party testing and certification benefits brands in many ways. Firstly, verification showcases compliance with national or international standards and regulations. Consumers and brand competitors should have no reason to be suspicious of your business.
Verification also demonstrates a commitment to safety and quality. This is key for customer retention. Verifying a product also increases credibility, trust and acceptance with retailers, consumers and other regulators. This essentially strengthens your business case and future proofs your company.
Obviously brands themselves also benefit from enhanced product quality and minimise risks, losses and negative press by verifying each product.
Why is third-party verification important?
It’s not just important. It’s essential. You can’t mark your own exam paper or give yourself a medal for excellence. Verification ensures an objective set of standards is met and that no bias can interfere with assessment.
This is particularly important when it comes to ethical verification. Brands make various claims about products in their marketing material but unless a product is verified, consumers can’t be sure an item is ethically and sustainably made. So for sustainable fashion and ethical beauty, products promoting conscious living or eco-friendly processes, an objective standard is needed.
We’ve known this for some time and now, data suggests consumers are frustrated by a lack of verification. When shopping, people want to know the ethical status of a product, and they don’t want to make a poor decision based on false marketing.
The case for ethical verification
Greenwashing is a problem in today’s market because it’s cool to be conscious. The 2019 Global Advisor poll by Ipsos found that 55 percent of UK shoppers would be put off buying clothes from a company thy knew polluted the environment. Similarly, three quarters would feel positive about a brand working to reduce its environmental impact and 74 percent of shoppers now expect brands to be accountable for the sustainability of their supply chains.
Many brands attempt to greenwash products, presenting them as more sustainable, ethical and eco friendly than they are in order to gain favour with forward-thinking consumers. But shoppers are wising up.
71.4 percent of consumers admit to being confused about how sustainable products actually are and now, they want to know more. This is why third party verification is so important. In order to build trust with your consumer, it’s essential to eliminate greenwashing and present the facts. Verification is the simplest and most effective way to do this.