By Jarrett McCraw
The millennial generation holds strikingly different values than those of their predecessors. They want to know where their products are made, who’s making them and how they’re made. They’re building tiny homes and are interested in alternative forms of energy. They’re not reading the newspaper, they’re cutting their [cable] cord and paying for ad-free streaming music. Armed with the internet, social media and endless amounts of curiosity, this ‘lazy generation’ can siphon through brand BS faster than you can say “satisfaction guaranteed.”
I’ll give you a great example: groceries. In the supermarket industry, one of the hottest trends is organic food. Consumers want to know that what they are eating is good for them — not just in the food pyramid, but how it was made. They are checking to see if their goods are made in China, in which case they are willing to pay extra for goods made in the U.S. As a result, there are now boutique popsicle shops selling avocado-flavored popsicles. Juice bars are selling cold-pressed juices for $8.50 per bottle.
All of these developments are pointing to a growing shift in consumer habits — we are moving from mass quantity to mass quality. For brands and advertisers, it’s no longer enough to throw money at media buys and spin the truth into a polished brand statement. Consumers can learn more about your company, its business practices and its people faster than ever. Thanks to technology, transparency is a requirement, whether your brand sees that as a value or not.
Brands doing it right focus on using authentic communication helps build consumer trust and loyalty. As an example, clothing retailer Everlane posts the cost of goods for each of their products in an effort to remain completely transparent with their customers.
Sweetgreen, another example, is a QSR concept that serves healthier food such as salads, lentil bowls and butternut squash dishes. One of their core values is sustainability, and they embody that right down to the materials they use for their locations. As the brand states on its website, “The same core values that drive our business influence our store design. In the spirit of keeping it real, we seek to preserve and expose the natural structure of a building, no matter the cost. Finishes such as reclaimed hickory, barn board pine and bowling alley tables are tangible examples of our commitment to sustainability.”
Here are some simple ways brands big and small, trendy or professional, can add more authenticity to their messaging and demonstrate their core values:
- If you’re an eco-friendly company: Use 100 percent recycled packaging, maintain a zero-waste standard, eliminate harmful chemicals from your materials and don’t bother doing business with those who don’t adopt these practices.
- If you’re a health-focused brand: Try to stick with using only organic ingredients, or sponsor a health and wellness initiative.
- If you want to demonstrate that your company focuses on a healthy work/life balance for employees: Post pictures from retreats and of employees hanging out together outside of work, or let your audience know when the office is closed for special events. Your audience knows you are professionals, but they’ll be understanding of your life outside of work.
- If you value supporting small and local businesses: Offer free training seminars in your field to help your customers improve their own businesses, post photos from on-site visits, and help leverage your audience to build theirs by creating unique and exclusive products available only through small business partners, or use only ingredients sourced from local vendors.
- If you pride your brand on quality and attention to detail: Share your process and behind-the-scenes moments with your audience. While you don’t have to give away the “secret sauce,” you can give a glimpse into the efforts put forth to create your product or service. This will better educate your audience on the value you provide and make them like feel part of the process just by having an insider’s perspective.
Long gone are the “days of spin.” Now, it’s time to put the truth in advertising and authentically communicate your brand story, your reason for existing and your values. Consumers are wielding the power of the dollar to demand quality products and quality brands. How well does your business hold up in the bid for authenticity?
To View Original Article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2016/05/19/five-ways-brands-can-survive-the-shift-from-mass-quantity-to-mass-quality/#3dddcff214d5