New Code for Construction Product Information - key points for marketers
As the CPA points out, the majority of businesses are trying to do the right thing, but the reputation of the industry is badly tarnished and hard work is needed by everybody to rectify that.
The consultation report including a draft of the new code for review has now been published, which when finalised will give us all a clear framework on what the “right thing” looks like.
We’ve reviewed the Code and drawn together five key points for consideration that marketers should begin looking at as we move towards the final version being published.
Plain English is mandatory
No more ambiguous language – claims need to be clearly substantiated. For example, “soundproof” won’t cut it – you’ll need to explain specifically how and to what level your product leads to a reduction in dB levels.
Any B2B marketing agency worth their salt knows this already – at best people see straight through the bullshit, at worst it misleads people into specifying something unfit for purpose. But it’s a salutary warning to keep it up. There’s a lot resting on it.
Maintaining that clarity is going to rest largely on having the right processes in place (see below), but the Plain English Campaign offers a range of free guides if you’re looking for a general grounding: http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/free-guides.html
Data integrity processes
Manufacturers must have suitably robust processes in place to make sure information is signed off appropriately.
This means agencies will need to be extremely diligent in making sure their own processes tie into this; if you’re a skilled project manager, you’re going to be in demand!
For those manufacturers who aren’t already accredited, it’s likely that standards such as ISO 9001 will receive greater focus in providing a proven benchmark for corporate governance.
It’s significant that responsibility for ensuring appropriate product information lies with the person placing the product on the market (defined as the “manufacturer”) – regardless of whether they have produced that item.
This provides clarity on who has the duty of adhering to the CCPI, and who should be coordinating how this is done with suppliers such as marketing agencies.
Accessibility is key
This is one of the CPA’s five acid tests. This means that all activity should be viewed through the lens of accessibility – ensuring that everybody can access the right information when they need it.
It’s likely that the traditional product datasheet – in formats such as PDF with reams of small-font information – will come under increased scrutiny.
Businesses will need to look more broadly at the best modes of communicating this information, and be up to speed with accessibility standards common in the public sector, such as those set by the government: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/accessibility-requirements-for-public-sector-websites-and-apps.
Information needs to cover the lifecycle of the product – not just its expected performance in use. So, a whole range of important information around installation, maintenance and end-of-life management of products must be considered.
In parallel with the above point on accessibility, the industry will need to look at the best ways to communicate this broad range of topics. Perhaps we’ll see a greater focus on the use of video and animation to help get what can be complicated subject matter across in the most effective way.
The CCPI is a really welcome step in formalising the best practice that in truth has been widespread across responsible businesses who manufacture construction products, but lacked a clear structure for all to adhere to. We’re looking forward to its introduction later this year.