Is This Too Much Info?

Sharing in 2018 means a lot more than it used to.  There’s almost nothing taboo when it comes to sharing on personal social media accounts. But as a brand, is there any sharing that can be perceived as TMI?

Quite the opposite, in fact. Sharing the raw, gritty and uncensored story of your brand can afford it a hoard of benefits, most notably, increased brand engagement and consumer trust.

It’s becoming increasingly common for brands to err on the side of transparency, a notion exaggerated by an episode of Portlandia. In it, a scene shows a couple sitting in a restaurant pressing their host for information about a chicken on the menu. The chicken’s name is Colin, and he’s been fed a diet of sheep’s milk, soy, and hazelnuts. The guests then decide to leave their comfy seats in order to cross-examine Colin’s environment before they make any rash decisions about dinner.

Comedy aside, you’ll find that these expectations are quite real, and brands are being held accountable not just by sustainability organisations, but also by the everyday consumer who isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions – questions like, ‘are preservatives added to my juice?’, ‘is toxic waste from the factory ethically disposed of?’, and ‘is the packaging recyclable and printed with vegetable inks in waterless printing facilities?’

Sure, there are challenges associated with answering conscientious consumers, but there are also opportunities.
What are they, you ask?

- By Suzanne Saroff

Penetrate the market

Take Everlane, a brand whose radical transparency with pricing, their retail model and markups was the first in the fashion industry and experienced some pretty incredible publicity and its benefits.

There’s a lot of ‘stuff’ out there, and if you’re a new brand, you’ll be looking for ways to cut-through the noise. Your development, product, and story is bound to be unique, so if you deliver it in a way people can understand, connect with, and remember, you’ve got a good chance of surviving.

Impressive earned content

Brands who’ve been open and share the full cradle to grave story tend to impress consumers and encourage organic sharing. Have you seen the U supermarket campaign where you could scan a label on a supermarket fish and watch its journey from the ocean to the shelf? This campaign sparked widespread sharing. Similarly, Who Gives a Crap’s ethical story generates more toilet content than we’re used to seeing in our feeds.

We know influencer content and sharing comes at a price, and that perceived authenticity is making influencer engagement and its effectiveness even more complicated of an investment. With this in mind, it makes sense to craft a product, brand and story that customers want to organically share and be associated with.

Unlocked doors to trust and loyalty

Melbourne brand A.BCH produces quality basics from organic cotton. A.BCH not only reveal details of fabric choices, production and price structure, but also invest energy in an engaging blog, which shares information on fashion sustainbility. In doing so, they encourage their consumers to interrogate industry competitors’ pricing, production, and processes, while building trust and loyalty with their market.

It takes guts to be honest about everything, and a lot of brands simply refuse to do it. So if you’ve developed a product you’re proud of, celebrate it. Openness translates into customer respect and trust, and most importantly loyalty in the long run.

Share, but with a strategy

Proceed with caution as you go to hit ‘live stream’, though. Pause to consider what you’re willing to share, what you won’t, and why.

When you share one element, users may consider why you’re not sharing others – like in the case of H&M’s new label Arket divulging detail of garment factory locations on online maps, but failing to detail work conditions, fabric sourcing, or other ethical issues, which has opened them up to public criticism. When a brand becomes associated with bad practices, like Uber, Pepsi, or MacDonald’s just to name a few, it becomes a hard reputation to shake.

Keep in mind that employing a tactic of radical transparency doesn’t deliver in a simple ‘the more the better’ kind of way. Delivering information to the increasingly educated, inquisitive modern consumers requires a solid strategy.

What we can say for sure is that the 2018 consumer is curious, and we’ve loving seeing how this is influencing brands to communicate to their audience.  

What’s your favourite radically transparent brand? We’d love to hear about them, tell us over on our Instagram.