Eco Voice Q & A: Anja Sadock, Head of Marketing at TrusTrace.

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Anja Sadock

Anja Sadock, Head of Marketing at TrusTrace.

Background

Anja Sadock is Head of Marketing at TrusTrace, where she oversees the brand, marketing and communication team, strategy and execution for the company. Anja has extensive experience building brands and driving global expansion and growth within diverse areas such as FMCG, electronics, health and hospitality for both B2B and B2C.

To provide insights into how brands can strengthen ESG marketing and evolve their legitimacy and credibility in consumer eyes by leaning into traceability data, Tim Langdon, publisher of Eco Voice, had the pleasure of facilitating a Q & A with  Anja Sadock, Head of Marketing at TrusTrace.

Q1. What is True Data?

When we talk about true data, we mean data that is true for your actual supply chain, rather than an estimation based on assumptions. For example, if a company is trying to understand the environmental footprint of a product, the accuracy of the footprint calculation will depend on whether or not you have primary data from your actual supply chain; which facilities, processes, materials and resources have been used in the production of your products. If you have this, you can have much higher confidence in the results versus if they are estimates based on e.g. the type of material and geographical location of facilities. With true data, you can not only understand your impact but also measure concrete progress when you make changes in your supply chain.

Q2. Why is data traceability important?

Supply chain traceability is an imperative for brands and retailers to make informed decisions about their business practices, and the primary data collected from supply chains is critical to discover and manage risk, prove compliance, and improve impact. As supply chains are complex and have historically been opaque, most companies still do not know their suppliers deeper in the chain, such as raw material suppliers or spinners, but are now held responsible for the social and environmental impact of their products throughout the supply chain. Hence, mapping out the full supply chain and gathering evidence on how products have been made becomes critical. And that is what traceability can enable in a way that is scalable, so it can encompass full product portfolios for every batch of production.

Q3. Why is traceability important in terms of sustainability specifically?

In order for a business to define and successfully implement sustainability goals, the brand must first confirm where they stand currently. When brands set goals, they are often assuming. By using primary data gathered from their supply chain, they can validate these assumptions. From there, brands can determine what data is necessary to meet their sustainability goals, and prioritize changing those aspects within their supply chains. Using data, provided by traceability, brands can then inform internal and external stakeholders exactly what targets they’re aiming to meet and can then deliver upon them.

Q4. How does traceability strengthen ESG marketing?

At the end of the day, the marketing of a company is an amplification of the business practices the company is taking. In order to market sustainability and ESG goals, companies need to be taking the steps to prioritize them – practicing what they preach. We’ve seen such a discussion around greenhushing and greenwashing in recent years, and that’s because brands can no longer use ESG marketing to promote themselves as sustainable brands if they do not have the evidence to back up their claims.

We’ve also seen a recent trend of brands announcing their sustainability commitments – sharing that they’ll be carbon neutral by 2030 or 2050. By publicly announcing an ESG commitment, brands are committing to deliver something that is of high interest to all their stakeholders, and can lead to significant backlash if not met. On the flip side, if brands can demonstrate the actions they take and report on progress in line with their targets, it builds their credibility and authenticity as brands that truly care about their social and environmental impact.

Q5. What are some of the issues around traceability?

Though not necessarily an issue, a successful traceability plan takes time, effort, and true company commitment from the top down to execute upon. Supply chains are long and complex, often involving thousands of stakeholders many of which brands do not have a relationship with today. It can be difficult to know where to start, and what to prioritize, as different functions may have different and even conflicting priorities. That is why it’s imperative to not look at traceability as a quick fix, but as an integral part of the business processes that requires a clear objective, plan, resource allocation and follow-up.

The main concern we encounter is whether or not suppliers will engage and share the data needed for brands to get the full overview of their product value chains, as well as the evidence needed to prove compliance. While it is true that suppliers are often not used to or set up for the frequency and quality of data sharing that solid traceability requires, we have found that most suppliers are happy to engage when they understand the purpose and also see the value to themselves, e.g. in terms of efficiency gains in how easy it is to share the data in a system vs. ad hoc email requests.

Q6. Are consumers increasingly demanding more traceability in their purchase decisions?

Yes, absolutely. Consumers are pushing back against greenhushing and greenwashing and demanding true sustainability practices in their purchases, meaning they want to see proof. Beyond the consumer demands we’re        seeing, there are increasing government regulations requiring traceability to demonstrate supply chain due diligence and improvements on social and environmental aspects. This takes traceability from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have.’ In the European Union, Digital Product Passports, which require detailed data about a product across the entire supply chain, will be made mandatory for all textile products by 2030. Though this seems far away, getting properly ready for the DPP will take years, as most companies do not have all the data required available. While the DPP may seem like a lot to prepare for, it is also an enormous opportunity, as it is will create the foundational infrastructure to power the circular economy, as well as unlock the ability for brands to continuously engage with consumers throughout the lifecycle of a product, and enhance the brand experience.

Q7. How can publications, such as Eco Voice, play their part in promoting sustainability?

The best way to promote traceability is to continue to share insights and learnings – as well as failures, although they are often harder to come by. The more we can all learn from each other, the faster we can drive meaningful change in the industry, but sharing learnings requires a safe space for sharing. Sometimes, even if they do have the data to back it up, brands are hesitant to promote their sustainability practices, as the more you share, the more you’re subjecting yourself to scrutiny. However, the more brands that speak openly and receive constructive and positive feedback about their genuine sustainability practices, big or small, the more it can become a trend that brands share data openly.

ABOUT ECO VOICE

First published in 2003, Eco Voice is your go-to publication for sustainability news in Australia. Eco Voice prides itself as an independent news platform with a clear focus on sustainability, with articles coming from a diverse range of contributors – all levels of government, corporations, not-for-profits, community groups, small to medium sized businesses, universities, research organisations, together with input from international sources. Eco Voice values community, conservation and commerce. Eco Voice is a media partner of the prestigious Australian Banksia Sustainability Awards – The Peak Sustainability Awards.

ABOUT TrusTrace

Founded in 2016, TrusTrace offers a market-leading platform for supply chain traceability and compliance, enabling brands and suppliers around the world to standardise how supply chain and material traceability data is captured, digitised and shared. Through providing access to validated supply chain data, TrusTrace empowers brands to identify, understand and improve the impact of their supply chain. The data can be used for risk management, compliance, product claims and footprint calculations, offering the ability to share data confidently and easily about product origin, impact, and much more.

TrusTrace is leading global-scale traceability programs for many of the world’s largest brands. The company is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, with additional offices in India, France and the US.

Please visit www.trustrace.com to learn more.

 

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