A groundbreaking new website is poised to become the first ever A-Z directory of every food and drink product sold in the UK – making it a trusted source of information for consumers and a new way for companies to boost sales. Whatsmybrand.com, which goes live in January, will host detailed information about food and drink products to allow increasingly discerning consumers to search online for products that meet their requirements exactly.
The site has been launched in response to growing evidence that consumers find it difficult to navigate food labels. They are confused by the different nutritional labelling systems used by retailers and manufacturers, bewildered by the various accreditation schemes on offer, and find some of the language used on packaging hard to understand or ambiguous. Rarely do store assistants have the knowledge and expertise to help customers with detailed product queries, which can leave some shoppers feeling vulnerable.
The extra time all this adds to their shopping trips is leaving many consumers frustrated. In particular, people with specific dietary needs often have to search from shop to shop for suitable products.
There is also a problem with trust, with some consumers suspicious of the claims food and drink companies make about their products, leaving them crying out for independent, unbiased help which isn’t currently available.
Whatsmybrand.com, which has the potential to list every food and drink product on sale in the UK, provides a solution to these problems. The sophisticated new portal, which boasts a state-of-the art intelligent search engine, will allow consumers with special dietary requirements – whether nutritionally or in relation to allergies – to look for products that match their needs at the click of a mouse. It will also make it simple for people with other preferences, such as for environmentally friendly or locally produced products, to find the food and drink that satisfies their requirements.
Consumers can search for multiple attributes at once – low-fat, organic and nut-free, for example – making it an unrivalled source of information.
The site will be free for consumers to access and use. They will also be able to register to receive a host of enhancements to the service, such as personalised search settings, the option to create their own lists of favourite products, a price comparison function and the ability to link to participating retailers’ sites to shop online.
They will also be able to use an innovative searchable glossary on the site, powered by the world-famous Oxford Dictionary, to help them understand the jargon used on packaging and learn more about the ingredients in the products they buy.
Food and drink companies will pay a low subscription charge to list their products on the site – although any that sign up to the service before it goes live in January will be eligible to list their products free of charge for a year.
Businesses that do sign up to the site will enjoy increased sales opportunities as consumers with specific needs discover their products and find out where they are sold. Retailers will also be able to use the site as a cost-effective means to drive additional sales though their own sites. By listing their products, companies will also enhance their reputation for openness, resulting in greater levels of trust.
The service is open to food and drink manufacturers and retailers of all sizes. Companies have complete control over the information listed about their products. Manufacturers can list as many of their brands as they like on the site, and as much information about these products as they want. Retailers have the option of listing their own label products and also the displaying price at which they sell both these and the brands shown on the site.
Major names to have signed up already to the service include Premier Foods, Cadbury, Ryvita and Tate & Lyle.
Whatsmybrand.com is working in consultation with the Food and Drink Federation and the Food Standards Agency, both of which have given permission for their logos to appear on the site. However, the site will be completely independent. It will carry no advertising and no company will be able to pay to enhance their listing on the site.
Whatsmybrand.com is the brainchild of Ian Duncan, 44, a former advertising man who emigrated from South Africa to the UK in 2005.
“More and more consumers in the UK want to know what’s inside the food and drink products they buy, where they’ve come from and how they are packaged,” says Ian. “Whatsmybrand.com will allow them to find out all of this information – and more – at the click of a mouse.
“Huge strides have been made by food and drink companies in terms of improving products nutritionally and producing them in a more ethical and responsible way,” says Ian. “But research shows nearly two thirds of consumers still want more information about the food they buy*.” Whatsmybrand.com will address this by providing a totally independent and trusted source of information about thousands of food and drink products.
* Source: Food Standards Agency, Consumer Attitudes to Food survey, 22 February 2007
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