Finding one tactic that leads to increased market share and overall sales could be like searching for a needle in a haystack. However, digital transparency may offer retailers and manufacturers the perfect ingredient they need to differentiate their offerings in today’s scattered markets. When brands meet shoppers anywhere in the path of purchase — from social media to the retail store shelves — transparency across all interactions can build an overall trust in the brand, leading to increased sales. With more than 73% of shoppers willing to pay more for products from a brand that is candid about everything (research by Label Insight) from production to marketing and advertising, major brands such as Procter & Gamble are seeing big wins from this strategy. Attracting and retaining customers doesn’t hinge simply on the product itself. Instead, shoppers are looking for insight into the entire brand lifecycle and rewarding those brands that make a conscious decision to be transparent.
Trust and Transparency
Shoppers are interested in learning more about their favorite brands, including materials used in manufacturing and whether sustainable solutions are utilized throughout the distribution process. This need for authentic information is visible in the deeper relationships that shoppers choose to have with their favorite brands, and the demand for even greater transparency across all communication channels. Hellman’s Mayonnaise is one of the many brands successfully leveraging shopper interactions. Their digital labels mesh with television advertising to tell the story of the sustainable soybean oil that is used in production. This highly detailed two-way conversation with the shopper provides additional information that can be used to drive trust and long-term relationships with the brand.
While a certain amount of transparency is required by government entities, shoppers appreciate when brands go above and beyond the requirements to share details that can help drive purchasing decisions. This may start with a complete list of ingredients, with active ingredients highlighted, but goes far beyond this basic requirement for straightforward communication. Nutritional information and storytelling about the product life cycle are often left off of traditional packaging due to space constraint — making it even more important to introduce digital aspects to the product for a true omnichannel transparency effort.
Today’s shoppers are browsing the physical shelves while they’re checking their phones for additional information, which is where digital transparency becomes a major boon for brands. Research by Label Insight found that only 12% of shoppers state that they would not access details beyond what was on a physical product label were they given easy access to expanded materials about production methods, procurement, handling, and distribution. With shopper loyalty up for grabs, it makes sense for brands to take the time to create a fully flushed out digital presence to support their physical store presence.
Online communities provide a way for shoppers to interact with other fans and the brand itself, but even these portals aren’t the best choice for every brand. The wealth of reviews and information available on the internet today can either support your sales — or drive potential prospects away, depending on the experience of the shopper. Yesterday’s recommendation from a friend is today’s online review, and brands disregard this truth to their own detriment. Engaging potential shoppers with your brand online is one of the best ways to present additional details and expand your storytelling. This may be as simple as an email signup form allowing browsers to receive updates and new releases, or as complex as data gathering with your retail and distribution partners.
Using Digital Transparency to Boost Sales
True digital transparency doesn’t mean that every interaction should be perfect: in fact, the opposite is true. If you visit a review site and only see glowing endorsements of the product with 5-star ratings, doesn’t it make you a bit suspicious? Shoppers have the same feeling. Community moderators and marketers should be conscious of the illusion of perfection, and that it can have the opposite effect of encouraging trust. Part of the challenge is for marketers to ensure that their digital ad buys are consistently providing value. Procter & Gamble famously slashed their digital advertising budget by $140 million, a move that sent shock waves through the CPG industry.
Third-party measurement, fraud, and brand safety are among the reasons publicly stated by Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, for his digital cleanup efforts that were kicked off by the reduction in digital ad spend. A deep understanding of shoppers is critical to success, as demonstrated by Pampers. By introducing artificial intelligence into Google search results, the brand is able to serve information about pregnancy safety and the Pampers Rewards program after the first search around the topic of pregnancy. Without in-depth shopper knowledge, brands are unable to craft a journey that nurtures customers through positive engagement — and yes, digital transparency into the world of the brand.
These tactics are effective in boosting sales both in store and online, while also driving loyalty due to the feeling of a deeper and more personal relationship with the brand. Shoppers may not actually realize that they are being served content that is tailored to their personal journey, but only see that a brand is delivering relevant content that deepens their engagement. These subtle and non-intrusive interactions build the cornerstone for future product sales and interest in extension brands as well.
Digital transparency is a term that can describe any number of interactions with shoppers, from ensuring that brand ads stay “clean” by being served on appropriate publisher sites to authentically sharing expanded brand information online. Brands that are able to deliver on the promise of the right content, delivered to the right person at the right time are the ones most likely to see the benefit in their revenue projections.