An eye-opening new UK study explores breakthroughs in what experts and consumers agree is the most important aspect of transparency—the honesty of products themselves. Grounded in new global market research, the Honest Product Guide is designed for business leaders, brand owners, marketers, experts and changemakers seeking to solve the crisis of trust between companies and the consumers they serve.

The guide, from global change agency Futerra and The Consumer Goods Forum, with the support of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, reveals that global consumers are hungry for more transparency about the social, health, environment, and safety credentials of the products they buy (70 percent), rather than the companies that made them (30 percent). Consumers across the world say they are most likely to look for information about the social, health, environmental and safety impact of brands in one place—on product labels (36 percent).

For transparency-starved consumers, the future belongs to honest products

Transparency is a hot topic for business

The authors assert that consumers are more interested in transparency on social, health, environmental and safety issues than they were five years ago (90 percent); and that consumer interest in transparency about these issues will increase in the future (95 percent).

The guide also explores how transparency is changing in the era of low consumer trust, and that breakthrough brands are being transparent in radically new ways, replicating the psychology of human honesty.

“Over the past decades, we’ve seen a significant shift in trust—away from institutions and brands, and towards family, friends and tribes online,” Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of Futerra, said at The Consumer Goods Forum’s recent Sustainable Retail Summit, where the guide was launched. “The new breakthrough brands understand this and have made product honesty core to their business. Honesty is the human form of transparency—it’s harder, but the rewards are far greater. And it all comes down to the product in your consumer’s hand; that’s what she wants to know about.”

For transparency-starved consumers, the future belongs to honest products

“Every retailer and branded manufacturer today knows that transparency is essential to build the trust of their consumers and support sustainable growth,” said Peter Freedman, managing director of The Consumer Goods Forum, in a news release. “But in a world of transformed consumer expectations, social media and other new technologies, we are all having to completely re-learn what transparency means and how to deliver it to shoppers. The Honest Product Guide provides the industry with a much-needed framework, drawn from the practices of the very brands that are now capturing much of the growth in the industry.”

“Historically, some marketers have focused solely on profit. But control has now shifted to consumers, who can swap suppliers more easily than ever,” said Chris Daly, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, in the release. “The landscape of transparency is moving control further into consumers’ hands. The Honest Product Guide has shown that consumers want evidence and consistent results. You don’t do this for a single marketing campaign—it’s all about gaining trust and loyalty over the long term.”

For transparency-starved consumers, the future belongs to honest products

While today’s consumer goods companies understand the importance of product-level transparency, they overestimate the success of their current efforts

While 73 percent of the corporate experts surveyed (representing over 70 consumer goods companies) agree that consumers are most interested in the social, health, environmental and safety impact of the product they are buying (as opposed to brand or corporate-level transparency), 86 percent believe consumers are ‘very satisfied’ or ‘quite satisfied’ with the level of product transparency they currently share—compared to just 41 percent of consumers who agree that products provide the right amount of information.

The Honest Product Guide includes:

  • New insights on what today’s consumers expect their products to communicate about their social, health, environment, and safety credentials, and where they expect to see them.
  • Case studies and examples showcasing how leaders in radical transparency are leveraging product transparency to build trust.
  • Practical tools including the Honest Product Test, a checklist for ‘human-level’ communications such as: ‘Does the product answer real consumer questions to help them make decisions or is what’s shared just what the company wants to tell?’.

Read The Honest Product Guide here.

For transparency-starved consumers, the future belongs to honest products

The Consumer Goods Forum and Futerra, with the support of the Chartered Institute of Marketing commissioned an online survey of 130 corporate experts from over 70 companies in 26 countries, and market research including 3,621 people in seven countries.

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