The information age has given consumers more detailed information than ever about what goes into the products they buy. Brand positioning in today’s marketplace cannot rely on providing only the information required on a package design and trusting customer loyalty to sustain strong brand relationships.
Consumers want to know about more than just ingredients.
One of the best things about internet saturation is that consumers can learn more about the products they buy, the brands that make the products, and how well brand values align with their own. But this thirst for information can lead to one of the main marketing challenges of the internet age. If brands do not provide consumers with information, consumers can easily find false information online and believe that instead of the truth. In short, there is simply no way for today’s brands to avoid the need for transparency in advertising, brand positioning, and package design.
Why Transparency Is More Important Than Ever
Millennials are the largest demographic consumer group, and many of them do not remember a time before the internet. They are accustomed to finding out what they want to know, exactly when they want to know it. If they are in the supermarket and the package design of a product they are considering does not provide enough information, it is easy enough to do a quick online search for brand information – a search that may or may not lead to truth. Shoppers want to know:
- What ingredients go into this product?
- What are the company’s core values?
- Is this brand committed to sustainability?
- Is this brand committed to social responsibility?
Clearly, it is better if the brand delivers this information itself and stays ahead of the narrative. Otherwise, it is too easy for false information to creep into the brand conversation.
Short and Long Term Benefits of Greater Transparency
In the immediacy of the shopping environment, excellence in brand transparency helps brands increase or maintain their portion of the consumer’s shopping cart. If a consumer is interested, for example, in whether organic ingredients are used in a product, the choice to purchase that product will be easier if the package design provides this information.
Over the long term, brand transparency helps companies strengthen relationships with consumers. Transparency fosters trust, and creates brand loyalty that is increasingly hard to come by. A 2016 study by Label Insight found that 56 percent of respondents said they would be loyal to a brand for life if it offered complete transparency. An astonishing 81 percent said they would be willing to try a range of products from a brand if they were happy with the brand’s commitment to transparency.
Dangers of Avoiding Transparency
If you do not provide transparency, consumers will assume you have reasons not to do so.
If your brand positioning strategy avoids or gives short shrift to transparency, it means you are relying exclusively on taste, price, and convenience for brand differentiation, when millions of consumers have moved on, increasingly using transparency to differentiate among competing products. Earning the brand loyalty of the Millennial generation is harder than it was with earlier generations. Not only are Millennials socially conscious, they expect to find out the information they want on demand. Not providing this information leads to frustration on the consumer’s part, and the possibility of false brand narratives springing up to fill that information vacuum.
How Brands Can Deliver Transparency Consumers Want
The first step to delivering the transparency that consumers want is understanding who buys your products and what makes them tick. For example, Generation X consumers are more concerned about ingredients in products, while Millennials are more concerned about sustainability and social responsibility.
The second step to delivering brand transparency is to offer transparency throughout the customer journey. Brands can do this in countless ways, from carefully timing social media posts to creating package design features that mesh well with how and when products are used. In other words, packaging design for breakfast cereal should offer breakfast-related information.
Finally, transparency should be delivered through all communication channels. Packaging design will always be paramount, but brand positioning today also requires that brands deliver transparency through customer email communications, social media sites, shopping apps, mobile coupons, and more.
Today it is increasingly difficult to keep information from consumers. What’s more, when brands try to avoid transparency, they risk an inrush of false information to fill the void. Truthfulness in packaging design and other brand positioning tactics is reassuring to customers, and knowing exactly what type of transparency your target market wants is the first step to providing the information they need to develop a strong relationship with your brand.