Ingredient disclosures & stakeholder pluralism

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Database is a prominent go-to for all things health when it comes to cosmetics. Last February, Unilever joined this fragrance disclosure scheme. Accordingly, Unilever announced a bold new initiative to provide detailed information on fragrance ingredients for all products in its multibillion-dollar portfolio of personal care brands, including Dove, Noxzema, Lever 2000 and NEXXUS. The announcement was characterized as a major move that could dramatically alter the personal care and fragrance markets.

A few monther later Procter & Gamble takes a similar move and announced it will reveal the fragrance ingredients, down to 0.01% of content, for all products sold in the US and Canada by the end of 2019.

It is not a complete surprise that the measure follows an announcement by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, that suppliers will be required to list all product ingredients by next year, while Target Corp. is mandating the same thing by 2020 – according to Bloomberg. Both retailers are also asking for the removal of certain chemicals such as formaldehyde.

New Stakeholder Pluralism

This is another example demonstrating how stakeholders can change the rules of the game. This is one reason why stakeholder management is key issue in my strategy classes… This is what I thought when writing this post.


A few days later I realized that there is an unexpected postscriptum: Is everybody happy about the emerging new rules of the game? One could think so. Major stakerholders are happy about their success. And major industry players are happy to position themeselves as innovators and early adoptors of the new rules.

Yet, a comment responding to my facebook post demonstrates how plural the landscape of stakeholder is today. In fact, this is a surprise – at least to me. Since I am more interested in the phenomenon as such I have anonymized the comment: