See-Through Brands

The Next Level of Brand Transparency

Following the post-truth politics of 2017, characterised by fake news and hate speech, the Facebook fall-out and the recent EU regulations around GDPR, it is no surprise that trust is at an all-time low across government, business, NGOs and the media.

Off the back of this macro-economic and political landscape, more consumers are putting greater emphasis on transparency in its broadest sense, which is becoming an increasingly important currency for brands who want to stay relevant and continue doing business with younger consumers that crave honesty and integrity.

The notion of ‘conscious consumption’ is not new; research has consistently shown that a brand’s activities are an important factor in consumers’ brand choice and loyalty, especially for Gen Y. This research indicates that we are now seeing that consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand which offers transparency and are more likely to pay for a product that offers complete transparency. Brands are finding new ways and innovations to help them prove their transparency, and they are reaping the rewards of this approach.

From food to fashion, many brands are striving to be more transparent in all areas of their activities, handing over data and information to prove their ethical and sustainable processes in return for brand loyalty.

This is a move beyond the desire for products and brands with authenticity and provenance that marketers have identified and acted on over the past decade. It is now no longer enough for brands merely to deliver a quirky origin story which talks of their innate authenticity. They need to demonstrate to ever greater degrees what it is about their production process as much as their brand story that should convince increasingly discerning customers to buy into their ethos.

In the last year we’ve seen Whole Foods document its food procurement process with a greater degree of transparency than ever before, an idea which McDonald’s took a step further with the ‘Our food. Your Questions’ advertising campaign.

Also leading the charge is the fashion industry, with brands finding new ways to communicate their ethical credentials to consumers. Patagonia’s online Footprint Chronicles offers almost total transparency on its supply-chain, whilst Everlane, an ethical fashion brand, shares detailed prices of all of its products, with listings of material, labour, duties and shipping costs. Even with mark-up margins of 60-80%, Everlane has seen a significant increase in profits and is projected for huge growth, demonstrating just how much radical transparency resonates with the consumer.

Looking to the future, with transparency becoming increasingly important to the consumer, brands must find new ways to connect directly with their customers to build solid trust and gain brand loyalty.

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