Consumer Brands Association: Looking Back on Our First Year

January 14, 2020, marked the launch of the Consumer Brands Association. At the dawn of what was more than a rebrand, ushering in an entirely new organization, we pledged to always ask ourselves one simple question: Where can we champion the aligned interests of industry and the consumers it serves?

While we had no idea then how much our world would be rocked less than two months later, that question proved a prescient North Star, guiding us through the challenges of an unprecedented crisis.

In hindsight, the association we launched one year ago was better prepared to weather those challenges and support the industry — as it supported homebound Americans — because of the steps we took at the outset.

We unified the industry. The totality of CPG — food, beverage, household cleaning and personal care — was thrust into the spotlight when the COVID-19 pandemic altered how we work, live and shop overnight. The average American uses 42 CPG products a day, but as the pandemic took hold, the importance of those daily rituals and the need for those products took on new life. It didn’t matter if it was disinfecting wipes or flour; it mattered that it was on the shelves for consumers. Bringing the CPG industry under one umbrella allowed Consumer Brands to advocate for access across product types and for the employees who were essential to the manufacturing and delivery of critical goods.

We focused the agenda. CPG companies contend with countless issues every day, but to be effective as an association, Consumer Brands focused on those where it could have the most impact on issues that affected the totality of the industry. When news of panic buying and shutdowns hit the airwaves, and supply chain became a top concern for both businesses and government leaders, Consumer Brands was ready. We had staff expertise to guide policy recommendations. We were able to bring CPG company leaders together on marketplace solutions. And we had key relationships in Washington and the states that made a difference for the industry and the consumers it serves.

We kept a spotlight on critical long-term issues. As attention turned to COVID-19, Consumer Brands kept up the drumbeat on packaging sustainability and didn’t waver, even as the world around swirled with chaos. We put forward our policy platform that defined the industry’s view on the ideal recycling system. We brought together diverse stakeholders to develop solutions for fixing the recycling system via the Recycling Leadership Council. We conducted research that proved recycling was just as important — if not more important — as plastic waste increased due to the pandemic. We never stopped working on an issue that will be there long after the pandemic is part of history.

I don’t believe the timing of our relaunch was lucky. It was necessary, regardless of the pandemic, to meet the needs of a modern industry and a changing consumer. But I do believe it put us in better position to be the relentless champion the industry needed — a belief validated by the appreciative members I hear from daily and the more than one dozen companies who have joined the association because they see the value in our efforts.

Today, we aren’t celebrating an anniversary. Rather, we are taking a moment to reflect on the contributions we made in the last year that allowed our industry to deliver for the people relying on it.

On the heels of a year of remarkable upheaval, the second year of Consumer Brands’ history looks to be similarly volatile. I’m confident a focused agenda, dedicated staff and an industry we are proud to support will guide us through and leave us stronger once again.