Trading the Truths: Brand Transparency

Modern day consumers value transparency as their number one motive for choosing to do business with companies. Over the past few years, there has been rising concern surrounding the topic of transparency, with consumers prioritising fair trade, sustainability, and environmental awareness.

As consumers, the choice of buying fair trade is in our hands. We have the freedom to choose brands that can reflect our personal values and needs, but with a specific attention for the ones that offer a transparent relationship between brand and consumer. Now more than ever, people value ethically sourced products, the way workers are treated, and a good balance between quality and price.

As stated by the Guardian : “Increasing awareness around these issues has led to a rise in what is known as conscious consumption, a movement of people who seek out ways to make positive decisions about what to buy and look for a solution to the negative impact consumerism is having on our world”.

The rising interest in fair trading involves many sectors, from food and fashion to furniture, medical and pharmaceutical companies. In the past, the fruit displayed in supermarkets was just fruit.  Few consumers questioned the origin of their food, and fewer cared about how well workers were paid.

Trade had been unfair for many years, but a radical change began in the late 1970s with the rise of the fair trade movement. This increased consumer awareness for the environment and the issue of the way workers are treated. Then, later in 1992 came the Fairtrade International Movement which aimed to improve the moral aspect of the marketplace.

In this article, we look at what transparency really means for brands and consumers.

Why is brand transparency important?

Fair trade is when there is an overall transparency between brands and consumers, when workers are offered safe working conditions and consumers can see good value for the prices of goods they purchase.

The Global Fairtrade International Organisation believes that many are the benefits of fair trading, such as helping farmers and workers from developing countries around the world to build a better life, paying them fairly to enable them access to education, health, and decent life conditions.

According to the Global Fair Trade Foundation, over 1.66 million farmers and workers participate in fair trade across 73 different countries in the world. Over the past few years, the total number of Fairtrade certified producer organizations has grown to 1,707 producer organizations in 2018, compared to the 1,139 that formed part just six years prior in 2012.

What does it mean to consumers?

As mentioned initially, consumers value transparency when choosing to do business with specific brands. They wish to be made aware of various aspects of their food, such as whether it was grown pesticide-free, what the difference between non-organic and organic coffee beans is, or the benefits of non-GMO livestock.

There is an increasing desire to know more about the products they are purchasing and the brands offering them. Consumers are no longer passively buying from shelves.

Recent studies revealed that 66% of UK consumers value transparency in how companies source their products. Customers want to see that brands care about sustainability, and that they are concerned about fair employment practices. According to the analysis, this part of the population complains about brands when they sense a lack of transparency.

Furthermore, a 37% of consumers in the UK are likely to interrupt their relationship with brands when they perceive a lack of clarity. This is because consumers value fairness and expect the same from brands.

Lastly, 55% of UK consumers like to speak out about how companies behave, through social media or with individual protest actions.

What does transparency mean for brands?

Brand transparency means that a brand not only acquires new customers regularly, but it can retain existing customers for longer time. Consumers are likely to stay loyal to brands who are transparent.

It is therefore the responsibility of small businesses and bigger companies to provide the basics for a solid relationship of trust. Transparency is one such basic element that can help towards building that all-important customer connection.

Brands can achieve transparency with their consumers by disclosing details regarding the trading practices and supply chain of a product. For example, a product such as transparency coffee openly offers details about the wages paid to coffee farmers, allowing brands to demonstrate their commitment to a fairer process.

By expecting fairness and transparency from companies, we as consumers have the power to influence their marketing decisions and change the world one step at a time.



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