The rise of the selfie has been incredibly fast. Everyone from the President to Britain’s royal family to the Pope has been caught in the act of posing for the occasional selfie. According to Social Times, millions of these self-portraits taken at arm’s length travel across cyberspace daily, many of them landing on social media.

And, why shouldn’t we be obsessed with selfies? With the proper smartphone setting, the photographer/subject has complete control over the outcome (photobombs excluded). One’s hair can be just so, one’s facial expression can be perfectly placed. I think you could make the case that this visual form of autobiography allows a person to put forward the best version of him or herself to the world at large.

Controlling an outcome through self-regulation is, in fact, an incredibly powerful tool. And, the effect is even more potent when groups pull together to do it as one.

The Power of Self-Regulation

Putting it simply, self-regulation is a clear initiative, rule or objective created by a group with a long-term goal in mind. Importantly, initiatives are in sync with the group’s deepest, most honest values. Self-regulation speaks volumes about what a group prioritizes as vital to its future success.

When done properly, it also sends an important message to people inside and outside an industry that a bar has been set, and there’s a dedicated effort among like-minded individuals to meet and exceed it. For all these reasons, some feel a government- or regulator-led program—even with industry input—can’t match an industry-led initiative when it’s rolled out and enforced well.

Recently, I spoke with the Council of Responsible Nutrition about one of its new initiatives. The group is taking the lead in investigating how to develop and implement a voluntary industry-led registry of dietary supplements (see page 8).

Whether you think such a registry is overkill or doesn’t go far enough, I think the time couldn’t be better for companies to back some kind of industry-led initiative that addresses the issue of consumer trust, showing that it’s a priority. This type of tool is perfect for underscoring that this industry is serious about transparency and putting legitimate products on shelves. It’s a chance for the industry to say to the world, “We’re passionate about quality, and we’re going to put in the work to prove it.”

Over the past year, I’ve had countless conversations with industry members about negativity aimed at our industry from media, regulators and government officials. Many times, consumer trust suffers. The situation has become so intense and overwhelming that it would be tempting to just put on blinders and say, “I’m going to ignore it all and keep working hard to bring my quality products to consumers.”

But, I think this is the wrong attitude. Proactive, united initiatives are important tools for shifting the conversation toward improved consumer trust. The supplements industry may not always need additional governmental regulation, but there’s nothing wrong with a little selfie-reg every now and again, if it’s well thought out. WF

Kaylynn Chiarello-Ebner
Editor/Associate Publisher

Published in WholeFoods Magazine December 2015