Features

The Discovery Phase

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | January 10, 2012

The CSPA Annual Meeting celebrates the unknown and uncovers new ways to work effectively with one-time adversaries.


 

Before US researchers rocket off to heavenly bodies that are millions of miles away, they would be better served discovering what lies below just several miles of ocean water on their home planet, according to oceanographer Robert Ballard, discoverer of Titanic, and a University of Rhode Island professor.


Ballard was the keynote speaker at the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, FL last month, and he offered several compelling reasons why the US should increase spending for ocean research, noting that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) budget is 1000 times larger than the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s $18 million budget.

“We have better maps of Mars than we have of earth!” he quipped. In 1983, Ronald Reagan declared that US sovereignty extends 200 miles into the ocean—effectively doubling the size of the US, much like Thomas Jefferson did in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase.


“We own more land under water than above water,” Ballard noted.


But unlike Jefferson, Reagan never sent out a Lewis and Clark-like expedition to find out what he acquired. Why should the US take a greater interest in the deep blue sea? Firstly, the earth’s oceans are filled with active volcanoes that spew important minerals such as cobalt and titanium. Secondly, areas such as the North Slope are rich in oil and gas reserves and thirdly, there are vast amounts of methane under the sea.


Which explains why Ballard is so passionate about learning more about the world’s oceans and exciting America’s youth to study science by creating Nautiluslive.org and The Jason Project, which brings the wonders of the ocean right into the classroom. They’re both part of Ballard’s efforts to get American students up to speed with kids from other parts of the world.


“(Americans) have saltwater in our blood,” he said. “The Chinese and Indians don’t, but we are losing our competitive edge. We are the masters of the ocean. We can’t leave it on the table.”


Back on Land


Closer to shore, the CSPA continues to advocate for industry even when it means taking the lead on difficult issues. For example, CSPA helped define ingredient communication; in fact, the EPA website noted its partnership with the association, according to Chris Cathcart, president of CSPA.


“We are risk-takers,” Cathcart told the audience. “But we plan it out, move, adjust and adapt.”


Adaptability and affability will serve the association well when the Toxic Substances and Control Act (TSCA) ultimately gets revamped. For now, industry executives don’t expect much movement on TSCA reform, due to Washington DC gridlock, but when Congress gets going again, the Association and its allies will be well-prepared for reform efforts.


“TSCA is 35 years old. CSPA agrees it needs to be modernized,” explained Cathcart.


On the issue of confidential business information, the Association’s efforts have earned kudos from The Washington Post as well as the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition.


“When engaging with NGOs, you have to be earnest, sincere and tough,” said Cathcart, who noted that one NGO leader observed that while they don’t always agree, CSPA is well respected.


Oceanographer Robert Ballard, who discovered RMS Titanic as well as the battleship Bismarck, calls on educators to excite and engage students in science and technology.

Cathcart also took time to point out that another forward-thinking idea, Product Care, the CSPA stewardship program which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. He urged those in the audience to sign on to Product Care, noting “it’s part of who we are. Now it’s part of our history.”


Finally, Cathcart took time to trumpet the deeds of three of its affiliates. The Product Ingredient Review works with CSPA member companies to develop health and safety data for antimicrobial and pesticide products for registration with federal, state and international agencies. The Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE) continues to find new ways to get its message out regarding inhalation abuse and disease and poison prevention. For example, ACE made it to the big leagues in 2011 when it partnered with the Minnesota Twins to “Strikeout Inhalant Abuse.” Meanwhile, the Consumer Aerosol Products Council (CAPCO) launched a new website, received a grant from Google and even got media giant, Walt Disney Co., to rework two popular kids’ television programs that aired misinformation about aerosols.


Finally, Cathcart noted that attendance at the annual meeting topped that of 2010 and that CSPA added 18 new members in 2011.


Sustainability Issues


The issue of sustainability is too big for even the world’s largest consumer products company. That’s why Procter & Gamble (P&G) has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to tackle an issue that looms large in the household and personal products industry. Len Sauers, VP-sustainability, P&G, and WWF’s Suzanne Apple took part in a special session on sustainability to provide insight on the topic from their unique perspectives.


“WWF’s vision is to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature,” explained Apple.


But the Fund isn’t trying to recreate Eden; instead, it’s trying to enact change by engaging with industry. WWF identified 15 key commodities, including palm oil, cotton, sugar cane, and pulp and paper, and reached out to the top 100 producers of these materials to create standards through roundtables.


“We have to build sustainability into our business models, or else they won’t be sustainable,” she noted. “Sustainability is a journey, not a destination.”


Like most companies, P&G’s sustainability journey began years, if not decades ago. More recently, the company has set some lofty goals, such as using 100% renewable materials, powering plants with 100% renewable energy and putting zero waste in landfills. P&G is determined to attain these measures without any performance tradeoffs.


“But we can’t reach these goals (alone). We need help. Which is why we partnered with WWF,” observed Sauers.


WWF is working with P&G to expand the company’s forest conservation efforts, increase its use of renewable energy along with several other initiatives. Sauers said he’s seen sustainability come and go three times during his 25-year career at P&G. But this time, things are different.


“(In the past) we looked at it as an issue to be managed, now it is an opportunity for growth,” he said.


The Aerosol Report


The Aerosol Division program included a diverse range of presentations. Leading off was Gretchen Schaefer, CSPA’s vice president-communications, who provided an update on the association’s new website, www.cspa.org. It boasts more than 1,100 content pages, a modern newsroom, an improved search engine and a social media connection. As a result, time spent on the site has surged 53% and the number of unique visitors has increased 28%. In 2012, the site will include a members-only section, improved B2B tools and will give the CSPA the opportunity to communicate more effectively with its members.

 


CSPA Past-Chairman Adam Selisker (left) receives the Chairman’s Award from CSPA Chairman John Abplanalp.

Effective communication with consumers is one reason why Procter & Gamble is moving toward plastic aerosol packaging, according to Scott Smith, a principal scientist with P&G. He said plastic could help the company differentiate its products because the package catches consumer attention, delivers a message and reinforces a benefit.


“Plastics will let us grow the aerosol business faster and more broadly, especially in beauty,” explained Smith.


Other benefits of the material are that plastic lends itself to smaller sizes and is widely viewed by consumers as being more recyclable. Secondary benefits of the material, from the consumer standpoint, are that plastic furniture polish packages won’t scratch wood and plastic shave cream containers won’t rust. To help understand all the benefits and challenges of plastic aerosol containers, Smith urged the audience to join the Plastic Aerosol Research Group.


“P&G is happy that we have another option to take products to market,” he concluded.


In an aerosol roundtable session that featured marketers large and small, participants agreed that the industry must move beyond negative promotional messages such as “No CFC” labels and tout the benefits of the aerosol package.


“The aerosol package is efficient, effective and easy to use,” observed Chris Beard, director of reputation management, SC Johnson.


Smith of P&G agreed, noting that there hasn’t been any pushback from consumers regarding aerosols. “We improve lives and aerosols do that,” he said.


Aerosols are a very important part of Unilever’s business, noted Patrizia Barone of Unilever. “Aerosols provide the benefits that consumers want. Consumers don’t want to hear about the negatives. Let’s tell them what they can do.”


The session’s final speaker, Clare Hefferren, president of Callosum Creative, stressed the importance of building one’s personal brand.


“Are you memorable?” she asked members of the audience. “Do you stand out in a crowd? Whether you like it or not, you have a personal brand. Is it working for you?”


She noted that the attention span of humans has dropped to just nine seconds. To create an effective personal brand in an increasingly crowded business landscape, executives must be authentic leaders, be effective speakers, and have a winning presence and a wardrobe to go with it. Effective leaders listen to understand, are open and ask questions to create a dialog and even brag a bit in their role as passionate, effective storytellers.


To build an effective presence, they prepare properly and have an agenda and communicate effectively with men and women. Men, she explained prefer to talk to one another side by side. In contrast, women prefer to face one another.


When speaking, words account for just 7% of effective communication. In contrast, tone represents 33% of the message and body language, 60%.


Hefferren even provided a primer for the fashion-challenged.


“If you’re well put together it means you pay attention to detail. If you’re too casual, you are too sloppy.”


Keeping Secrets


Being open and inviting is one way to build successful business relationships, but the same tack could kill innovative ideas if valuable information is leaked to the public or competitors or regulators. Sanya Sukduang, an attorney with Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP, provided definitions of trade secrets and confidential business information and provided tips to maintain secrecy. A trade secret is any business information having economic value to the user that is not generally known and is subject to reasonable efforts to preserve its secrecy. In contrast, confidential business information is any information having economic value to the user but efforts are not made to keep it a secret.


Len Sauers, VP-sustainability, P&G, and WWF’s Suzanne Apple.

To put it another way, “Not all CBI are trade secrets, but all trade secrets are CBI,” noted Sukduang. This is key differentiator when dealing with NGOs and regulators.

To create an effective trade secret program, companies must:

• Appoint the right people to develop policy & procedures(P&P);

• Conduct a trade secret audit and inventory;

• Develop and implement the P&P;

• Implement reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy;

• Educate employees; and

• Enforce your P&P.


“People like to use the term ‘proprietary information.’ It is meaningless, as are the terms ‘trade secret’ and ‘CBI,’” Sukduang concluded. “You have to take action to protect it.”


Scents & Sense


We live in a visual world, but olfaction could play a key role in building successful brands, according to speakers at the Air Care division program. Rachel Herz looked at the psychology of scent and scent marketing, and explained how specific odors can have specific effects on humans. Cinnamon, for example, increases reaction time, while orange improves mood and decreases anxiety.


But the effects of scents are impacted by cultural, so a scent that works on Americans, may not affect Germans or Japanese in the same way. And women react to scent more readily than men. The proper use of fragrance to elicit response is critical to success. Herz warned that incongruous use of fragrance—say, adding a lemon scent to red water—might have a deleterious impact on a product’s sales.
Marketers should also be aware of using too much fragrance. After 2-20 minutes, odor receptors stop firing and the desired effect on consumers is lost. Another problem is odor habituation. With constant use of a fragrance, the user must use more and more of the stuff to get the same impact—even while those around them get overwhelmed by the increasing level of scent. Herz explained that odors could also cross-adapt. In this instance, very pleasant odors become bland and very unpleasant odor become bland too.


“It’s regression to the mean,” explained Herz.


Defending the Industry


With traditional media on the decline, non-government organizations (NGOs) are grabbing headlines and making news on their own, according to Kelly Semrau of SC Johnson.


“NGOs are everywhere and play an important role in society,” noted Semrau, who said the number of NGOs is estimated to be anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000. “But often, we don’t understand them and they don’t understand us.”


She noted that NGOs such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club have impactful mission statements that make anyone interested in joining them. In addition, many are backed with multibillion-dollar budgets.


“They communicate their mission, engage consumers and report their results often,” explained Semrau. “They have tight missions, specific goals and classic political fundraisers. They have good tactics.”


In contrast, industry—and specifically, the air care industry—does not have a clear mission. Yet, as industry embraces sustainability and takes the lead on it and related issues, NGOs are beginning to lose their influence.


“We shouldn’t be afraid of NGOs; go on the offensive,” urged Semrau. “Corporate leaders are moving up the list of whom consumers believe. Consumers don’t follow NGOs blindly.”


With that in mind, Semrau suggested that air care executives should be proactive in publishing industry data, be transparent with consumers, stick to sound science, engage with responsible NGOs and work together. She suggested that division members return to the midyear meeting in Chicago with some truth talking points to get the word out on the industry and offered five points of her own.

1. Consumers like fragrances and have for thousands of years.

2. The industry provides products that consumers want andenjoy.

3. Consumers want transparency and industry is providing it.

4. Air care products are required to meet numerous governmentand industry standards before they can be sold.

5. We will focus on real, peer-reviewed science. We will not beguided by sensationalist science.

CSPA Mourns the Loss Of Four Key Members, Celebrates Volunteers


CSPA Chairman John Abplanalp presents the volunteer award to Hilary Himpler, Ph.D., director, Surface Chemists of Florida, Inc.

• During the annual meeting, the Association took time to honor four extraordinary men who passed away during 2011. They included David Beeham, Faultless Starch/Bon Ami Co.; Al Pellini, Advanced Monobloc; Ron Davis, KIK Custom Products and Dirk Straathof, Procter & Gamble.

 

CSPA went further by honoring Davis posthumously with the Charles E. Allderdice Jr. Award, the association’s highest honor. Davis served the association in a variety of positions during his career, including chairman of the aerosol division in 1994-95 and 2007-08.

 

“Ron would be proud to receive this award,” said his widow Claudette. “And I am honored to receive it.”

 

Finally, the Chairman’s Award was presented in memory of Beeham to Adam Selisker of CRC Industries.

 

Also during the annual meeting, each division announced the winner of the Volunteerism award. They are:

 

• Aerosol Products Division: Joseph Bowen, vice president, sales & marketing, Aeropres Corporation.

 

• Air Care Products Division: Cynthia T. Reichard, executive vice president, Arylessence, Inc.

 

• Antimicrobial Products Division: Millie Brutofsky, microbiology lab manager, Lonza, Inc.

 

• Cleaning Products Division: Hilary Himpler, Ph.D., director, Surface Chemists of Florida, Inc.

 

• Industrial & Automotive Products Division: Rebecca Korwin, Ph.D., technical director, Malco Products, Inc.

 

• Pest Management Products Division: Nasser Assaf, manager of product safety and regulatory affairs, Valent BioSciences Corporation’s environmental science division.

 

• Polishes and Floor Maintenance Products Division: Mike Locco, research manager, Dow Chemical Company.

 

Smash Your Brand

 

• Back in 1915, so the story goes, Coca-Cola executives developed a bottle shape that was so distinctive that even if it was dropped on the floor and shattered into 100 pieces, folks would still recognize the product. Does your brand have that kind of recognition, asked Simon Harrop of Brand Sense?

 

In a world where the average teenager sees 86,500 television ads each year, consumer product companies must develop strategies to cut through the clutter and one way to accomplish that is to utilize all the senses—sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

 

“If you rely on words and pictures alone, you can get it wrong,” Harrop warned the Air Care Division audience. That may explain why 80% of new products fail in their first year of availability.

 

According to Harrop, people use their senses fairly uniformly when choosing a brand, and yet, nearly 85% of a Fortune 500 company’s marketing budget goes to sight cues. Building a relationship with a brand is like building any other relationship, explained Harrop. It begins with sight, but moves quick to sound, touch, smell, taste and, if successful, intimacy.

 

“Most purchasing decisions are emotional and non-conscious,” he maintained.

 

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