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Building Consumer Trust in 2020

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Consumers are more skeptical these days.


Can you blame them? The Edelman Trust Barometer evaluates and displays survey data on consumers’ trust levels of NGO, business, media, and government. This year’s report resulted in no institution being perceived as both competent and ethical, the two components of trust. This leads to a further widening of the gap between businesses and their consumers. Now more than ever, consumers are calling on businesses to demonstrate transparency in their operations.

Large corporations can use their weight in followers, capital, and brand recognition to be loud in their radical transparency—like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s, for example. Small businesses simply don’t have that kind of weight behind their brand to be loud.

However, there is something small businesses have over big corporations: It’s easier for a small business to start being transparent at any stage in the business’s life. If big companies aren’t honest and transparent from the beginning, they have to work hard to prove the steps they are taking to be better. In a study by the Better Business Bureau, 84% of people said they are more trusting of small businesses versus larger businesses. Consumers are much more forgiving when small businesses make a mistake.

Being authentic is far easier for small businesses, too. Your customers become friends, you know your vendors by their first name, and your community starts to learn what you’re about. However, just being authentic doesn’t cut it. Customers judge brands in the way they affect their quality of life. Consumers are doing their research and displaying transparency will catch their attention.

Three Ways Your Business Can Demonstrate Honesty And Transparency

 

  1. TAKE A STAND, NO ONE IS STOPPING YOU. Your activism doesn’t have to divide your customer base. CVS demonstrated this when they took a stance against tobacco products by not offering them in their stores. From a social listening perspective, tobacco-related health concerns are an issue no one is trying to defend. This move resulted in 38% of their cigarette-smoking-customers to stop purchasing cigarettes altogether, instead of taking their business elsewhere. CVS customers remained loyal and as a result, improved their health.

  2. PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MISSION IS. You can’t go wrong with having an established credo or mission statement on your website. A credo is a place for you to state all of the beliefs or aims which guide your actions. If you make products that are sourced from ethical materials or ingredients, throw that in there; better yet, list where you get them from. If you take care of your employees by offering them competitive benefits and salaries, throw that in there, too. Let’s be clear, a credo is not a place to brag about the expectations you’re meeting, but the values your business puts in to practice. (Check out Johnson & Johnson’s credo, as an example. It’s a business that has had plenty of ups and downs in transparency.)

  3. SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.  Restating your values on social media is valuable in three ways. First, it gives your business valuable and authentic material for your social channels (buh-bye stock image photos, don’t let the door hit you on the way out). Second, your message will reach a larger audience, including the customers who don’t visit your About page. Lastly, by giving updates on how you’re actively standing by those beliefs via posting on social media, you’re proving your dedication and conviction in who you are.

    By implementing these practices to your brand, you’ll stand out as a transparent and reflective business. That’s proactive and empathetic. Hello, integrity!

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