"I think we sit at a pretty transformational time in retail in terms of how consumers shop and find the products that they want and need," said Morris, who spent 20 years at shopper intelligence firm Catalina unlocking insights around consumer loyalty.
The old methods of walking down an aisle at the grocery store or browsing online have become a struggle for the roughly half of American consumers following a specific diet or health regimen, said Morris.
"When people shop online today, they’re searching attribute first, not product first, and that’s a big shift in consumer behavior, and that experience is broken," he told FoodNavigator-USA.
For instance, search 'peanut-free' on some e-commerce sites and the results will return products containing peanuts, according to Morris (We tried this on Amazon and while the search did uncover peanut-free products, it also offered a peanut butter cookie product and Jif Creamy Peanut Butter as suggested products on the first page of results).
"We live in a shopping and search mindset as consumers. We’re used to putting in exactly what we want and getting the answer, and we’re going to make that real for e-commerce for traditional products we buy in grocery stores, drug stores, and mass merchants," Morris said.
Powering attribute-first shopping
Label Insight's patented data technology and platform incorporates approximately 24,000 product attributes for more than 80% of all CPG products (around 5,500 brands) sold in US stores and online. The company also provides the FDA access to its database of more than 170,000 nutrients.
"There’s really not been a great quality of data available to power those product attributes until now. All we’re doing now is making that instantly applicable to an e-commerce situation," said Morris.
If a retailer is looking to create a designated section for all 'gluten-free' products online, Label Insight's technology is instantly applicable. Its database can filter through the more than 600,000 products that are gluten-free almost instantly. While many gluten-free products label themselves that way, there are many brands that don't make the claim that actually do qualify as gluten-free, noted Tim Whiting, Label Insight's VP of marketing.
"There’s only about 900 products that actually have ‘gluten-free’ on the product label or description. Based upon our analysis, we have about 200,000 products that qualify for gluten-free," said Whiting.
Morris added, "On a package, a brand can only make a handful of claims, there’s only so much label space or shelf space, but in a digital world, it’s limitless. We can now meet the complete array of consumer needs."
'Immediate impact in sales'
According to Morris, the most exciting aspect of Label Insight's data capabilities is that it can "make an immediate impact in sales with information and data that's available today.
"As a consumer, if you had a retailer that made finding that [dietary attribute] easy, you would be loyal to them. I think this a real game changer in shopper loyalty to have that service to customers," he said.
Outside of driving consumer sales by creating a simpler and accurate online shopping experience, retailers can also drive revenue from manufacturers and brands, according to Morris.
"The retailer can actually sell that ad word or attribute to the manufacturers that wants to own it (e.g. gluten-free, keto), a la Google Ad Words, and in that way, help monetize their traffic and their data. We enable that," Morris explained.
The year ahead
Retailers and brands currently using Label Insight's data technology platform include Unilever, Conagra Brands, Albertsons, Target, HEB, Dole, and many others. With Morris joining Label Insight as CEO this year, the company said it plans to dramatically expand its technology to more CPG manufacturers and retailers in 2020.
“We’re thrilled Todd has decided to join our company,” said Ronak Sheth, co-founder of Label Insight, who is handing over the CEO role to Morris as he assumes a new position as chief strategy officer for the company. “His experience in scaling global business operations and developing innovative data-driven solutions for the CPG industry will be pivotal to the next phase of our growth.”