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Beacon Discovery: A new transparency tool for brands, retailers

This easy-to-use tool brings transparency, integrity and standards together in one platform to help buyers choose the best foods for their shoppers.

Shelley Sapsin

March 21, 2023

4 Min Read
Beacon Discovery: A new transparency tool for brands, retailers
Bryan Beasley Photography

A recent study by the Food Industry Association (FMI), tracking interviews with over 1,000 grocery shoppers carried out from Sept. 12-28, reports that 72% of people surveyed say detailed information about what's in their food and how it's made is important or extremely important to them, and 64% say they'd switch to a brand that offered more detailed information than what appears on the product label. But buyers are busy and doing the research to gather this information isn't easy. That's one reason New Hope Network has developed a new discovery tool that makes reliable, transparent brand information—the kind consumers increasingly demand—available in one convenient place. 

In this interview, Shelley Sapsin, VP of Market Integrity for New Hope Network, explains how Beacon Discovery by New Hope Network brings transparency, integrity and standards together on one platform.

Q: You've called Beacon Discovery "the next evolution in product discovery." What is it exactly, and why do you describe it that way?

A: Beacon is a new buyer-seller platform for powerful product discovery. It offers deep product insight and robust filtering to bring precision and convenience to the discovery process, year-round and at Natural Products Expos.

We call Beacon the "next evolution" because it supports a buyer's ability to create positive change for people and planet every time they make a buying decision. It also makes it easier for natural, organic and other high-integrity companies (both buyers and brands) to stand out and be found.

Related:The Future of Food: Letter to the natural products industry

Q: What's different about Beacon Discovery that makes that possible?

A: Beacon offers so much more than a traditional directory. Shining light on a brand's mission and story is something we love to do at New Hope, but we also take pride in providing hard data and insight. Beacon consolidates these "heart" and "data" metrics making it easy for buyers to find all the information they need about product and brand in one place.

Additionally, Beacon provides new kinds of buying metrics for buyers to consider. For example, products will be benchmarked by our third-party partner, HowGood, the world's largest ingredient sustainability analytics database, to help compare environmental impact (ESG) when selecting products. Buyers can also look for MarketReady Verified products which have been reviewed for regulatory compliance by our New Hope regulatory team. And, as part of our focus on transparency and integrity, Beacon will provide information about what a product is made from and also how it's made.

It's not just new metrics that make Beacon Discovery so useful, it's also the reliability and utility of the data. Each product on Beacon is reviewed by our New Hope Integrity team to ensure it complies with our ingredient and labeling standards. SPINS product intelligence powers Beacon, making for easy and comprehensive product searches and filtering. The product categories align with the SPINS hierarchy, as do the point-of-sales metrics that SPINS provides to help retailers find products that are a good fit for their stores. In fact, in our user testing, one message we repeatedly heard was the value in democratizing objective brand and product data in Beacon. It's not a pay-to-play push, it's not a greenwashed pitch; buyers see a product because it's what they've searched for.

Shelley Sapsin, VP of Market Integrity for New Hope Network, explains how Beacon Discovery by New Hope Network brings transparency, integrity and standards together on one platform.

Q: That sounds really useful and different than what's available on the market, but is it easy to use?

A: Yes, it is. Throughout our product development process we've interviewed retailers and tested this product with users repeatedly. Our continuous evaluation and testing ensures that Beacon Discovery is not only easy to use but also makes the work of product discovery faster, simpler and more reliable for buyers and brands.

One of the most important tasks for mission-oriented retailers is ensuring products meet store standards. Beacon Discovery uses an algorithm to compare product ingredients and retailer standards so buyers—in preparation for attending Expo, for example—can create a list of products they know meet their requirements. They can produce a curated list and, using Beacon and our floor navigation software, map their route at Expo. Based on what we've heard so far from the buyer community, this is "monumental."

Buyers have a heavy workload within a competitive marketplace and Beacon was specifically developed to save buyers time. As a standards-based platform, Beacon Discovery minimizes the research and verification needed to ensure selections meet buyer requirements for claims, sourcing and ingredients. It helps buyers find exciting new products by identifying NEXTY award winners and helps differentiate a store using SPINS data to identify high growth products with limited distribution.

Beacon Discovery also helps retailers differentiate by finding mission-aligned, innovative brands earlier in the product's life cycle, even before its Expo launch. With Beacon, products get to shelf faster when buyers and their regulatory teams know product labeling has already been verified for compliance. Most importantly, Beacon metrics give retailers new ways to find brands that are right for their customers, and demonstrate to their customers the efforts retailers make to find brands and products that create the impact that matters so much to those customers.

About the Author(s)

Shelley Sapsin

standards specialist, New Hope Network

I provide regulatory and compliance expertise to businesses specializing in nutrition, health and personal care, and help develop and implement policy to create a transparent, principled, and level playing field on our exhibition floors.

I show exhibitors how to minimize risk and maximize competitive advantage as they introduce products into the marketplace, and formulate ways to deliver insight to provide ever-increasing value to our customers.

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