We recently explored how the millennial generation’s consumer ethos of “self, society, and planet” has impacted other demographics and encouraged brands to become more transparent about their product sourcing and social impact. This shift is perhaps most obvious when it comes to food labeling – after all, this is the generation that saw calorie counts added to fast food menus and prioritizes organic and local ingredients. However, today’s consumers want greater transparency for all products, not just those they literally consume.
In Inc., digital marketing entrepreneur Kenny Kline reports on the Label Insight Transparency ROI study that examines how transparency is vital in building trust with consumers and encouraging brand loyalty.
More Than Labels
Product packaging is important, both in reinforcing brand identity and providing information to consumers, but a bag or a box can only provide space for so much detail. That’s why many consumers look to the internet for more information about the products they are considering purchasing. “This means that brands can easily lose control of the available information about their products,” Kline notes, “as consumers turn to third-party sources to determine how products were made.” Brands that proactively share information maintain control of their own image and narrative.
Noteworthy examples of brands that go the extra mile to reveal the information that shoppers want include fashion brands H&M and ASOS, grocery chain Whole Foods, and outdoor outfitter Patagonia. Whole Foods learned this lesson the hard way after a scandal involving mislabelled products led to a class action lawsuit. In the wake of this experience, the brand has become one of the most transparent grocery retailers and wooed customers back to their stores.
More Than Ingredients
Not only does Patagonia provide comprehensive information about what makes up their goods, it also includes comprehensive documentation along its supply chain. Part of millennials’ “Self, Society, and Planet” ethos is an awareness about the way brands treat product suppliers, manufacturers, and the communities in which they are based. Patagonia addresses these concerns with a video series that shows “each step of the supply chain, including all textile mills and sewing factories”.
In a fascinating conversation between innovation expert Jeff Fromm and two leaders in brand transparency, this type of radical transparency is praised. “When millennials make purchase decisions, they’re considering more than the traditional drivers of taste, price and convenience,” Kira Karapetian says. “They value authenticity, and make decisions based on the way they perceive brands to impact their quality of life, society as a whole, and how that brand may be contributing positively to the world.” This means brands that go above and beyond to address these issues are immediately appealing to a millennial audience.
More Than Products
Ultimately, younger consumers want to support brands that do good in the world by creating good products in a healthy, environmentally responsible manner. As Keith Knopf says, “We find that it sometimes has less to do with a brand itself, but rather what the brand does to reflects its core values.”
Brands that prove themselves to be about more than products resonate strongly with today’s consumers. They want to feel part of something bigger when they make a purchase, and they know that their money is well-spent with a trusted and transparent brand. This requires forthright information sharing, from the ingredients in a particular product to where and who they come from, how they got there, and what they mean to the brand itself.
By making brand transparency their number one marketing priority, companies can set themselves apart from business as usual, build deeper connections that develop trust, and earn a place in the hearts of consumers for life.