Toni Petersson, chief executive officer of Oatly AB. The Swedish oat milk maker can barely keep up … [+]
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According to several brand studies, over 90 percent of consumers say transparency by a brand is important to their purchase decisions. Empowered by a wide array of choices and too much information, customers have a greater expectation, and demand, for transparency from brands. At the same time, brands are spending big dollars to get their marketing messages across. According to the Winterberry Group, American advertising and marketing spending in 2018 was projected to be $316 billion. Even with this great amount of spending in marketing, why are some brands doing well while others are failing? Too many choices.
If there’s one thing people have an excess of, it’s choice. Customers today are empowered to buy whatever they want, whenever and wherever. So, in order to build a more authentic relationship with customers, brands need to stand out with emotional messages that resonate with consumers. Some leading brands are resorting to a simple premise: let’s just be honest and transparent. Often, that simply means giving customers the facts and helping them make informed buying decisions. What might have started out as internal corporate initiatives to be more transparent or authentic are now full-blown brand and marketing platforms. As consumers demand honesty and authenticity from brands, we’ll only see more of this trend.
If you are building a brand today, regardless of the size of your company, you may want to consider standing out by being open and transparent but with a twist that positions and separates your brand from the crowd. Here are four brands that utilize transparent but unique branding from the traditional to the outrageous.
Patagonia. Outdoor clothing and gear retailer Patagonia is well known for sustainability. From the beginning, the company has been clear about its business mission to protect the environment and inspire social change. Patagonia constantly makes changes to be more sustainable and provides its customers the facts to let them make better decisions. For example, Patagonia released a Fair Trade campaign asking people “how is your clothing made?” The company aims to get consumers to think about where clothing is made in order to create a stronger demand for Fair Trade products and to disrupt negative patterns taking place around the world. Unlike most garment factories, Fair Trade Certified factories pay higher wages, have a higher standard of living and bring workers closer to earning a living wage.
Southwest Airlines and Macy’s team to support Make a Wish.
Southwest Airlines. Southwest is a major U.S. airline that prides itself as the world’s largest low-cost carrier, proving it in the marketing campaign “Transfarency”. For Southwest Airlines, Transfarency is a company-wide philosophy in which customers are treated honestly and where fares actually stay low. Together with the campaign hashtag, #FeesDontFly, the airline uses the campaign to showcase its value proposition of no hidden fees or extra costs. The campaign garnered nearly five million likes on Facebook alone, set Southwest Airlines apart from the competition and earned the loyal trust of its customers.
Oatly. Think you can make milk out of oats? Oatly, is a Swedish company based in Malmo that has, for the past 25 years, been trying to make oats happen. Specifically, oat milk. The brand launched in the US in late 2016, first gaining fans, and then fanatics. Oatly is a brand and product phenomenon that transcends dietary restrictions. About 65 percent of the global population has some degree of lactose intolerance or they have ethical food production concerns. Unlike so many of its competitors, which offer wide-ranging product lines, Oatly does one thing really well: oats. Oats are the product, the message and the strategy and this may explain the brand’s success. Oatly really believes in oats. Environmentally and nutritionally, the company argues, oats are the best option we have to produce sustainable milk and their loyal customers see to agree.
Liquid Death. People buy a lot of bottled water, energy drinks, body spray, and cheap beer. Unbelievably, bottled water retail sales in the US passed $32 billion last year, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation. There is money to be made here, and perhaps opportunity for an edgy brand to claim some of the market. Enter Liquid Death. It’s mountain water bottled from the source with an attitude. The recycling-friendly aluminum can is not a single-use plastic bottle, which is timely. But it’s how Liquid Death is building its brand that is fascinating. First, they called it Liquid Death. Second, they use tongue-in-cheek honesty the whole way as they aspire to communicate with fellow souls by asking them to “murder their thirst.” In fact, everything they are doing goes against conventional marketing wisdom. And that may be just what will make this brand successful. They are connecting with fellow souls who want to drink water, are as Stance says “punks and poets”, they want to be kinder to the planet and have a little art and attitude with their water.
If you consider Millennials and the rising Gen Z populations are now over 150 million in the USA, pay attention to their minimum requirements for a brand or product: honesty and transparency.