Nowhere to hide: Transparency Trend Intensifies

The ability for anyone, anywhere, to know virtually anything is transforming the retail and consumer goods world in new, exciting and incredibly challenging ways.

By Dan Wilkinson

Today's consumers are empowered in ways few saw coming just 10 years ago. They are smarter about what they are buying, more willing to share information about products and experiences, and have grown accustomed to having the collective knowledge of the world accessible at their fingertips within seconds.

These trends will only intensify in the coming decade, requiring retailers and suppliers to think very differently about transparency. Those who embrace this generational shift will be regarded as authentic; earning consumer trust and dollars.

At 1WorldSync, we have a unique perspective on the shift toward transparency, as we play a key role in the foundational structure that enables organizations to deliver the transparency consumers demand. As a leading. multi-enterprise product information network, we help more than 21,000 global brands and their trading partners share authentic, trusted content with customers and consumers in more than 60 countries.

One of the things that is apparent from this vantage point is that even though consumers are enabled with more information, it doesn't mean they have all of the information in the right context. The path to purchase for consumers requires that brands and retailers work together to provide timely, relevant and impactful product content across all channels. Today's shoppers are more educated than ever and are increasingly using their smartphones to research products that they intend to purchase in a store. In fact, 82 percent of smartphone users say they consult their phones on purchases they are about to make in a store. If consumers can't access the product information they need or want when they want it, they'll take their business elsewhere. Ultimately, consumer purchase decisions depend on the quality, detail and ease of product data available to them.

These trends will only intensify in the coming decade, requiring retailers and suppliers to think very differently about transparency.

Transparency also goes beyond what is "in" something, which is where much of the initial focus has been. That's a good place to start, but going forward, it is important to think more broadly about the components of transparency and consumer expectations. Product information transparency encompasses where a product came from, how it got here, who got paid what to produce it, the composition of the manufacturer or retailer workforce, sustainability characteristics and why all of it matters. These are only some of the broad areas where an increasing number of consumers have questions and are looking for answers throughout the path to purchase. A recent study by Deloitte, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association reported that 51 percent of Americans surveyed consider "evolving drivers" such as health and wellness, safety, social impact, experience and transparency when making purchasing decisions. So, by meeting this demand for complete and accurate product information transparency, consumers are empowered to make informed purchase decisions and businesses are able to build brand and product loyalty.

CPG manufacturers and retailers must have a seamless connection to make sure that accurate, complete product information flows through the product information value chain to end consumers. This new dynamic requires brands and retailers to work together to provide timely, relevant and impactful product content across all channels and touchpoints, which is where 1WorldSync fits into the dynamic. It must be a frictionless experience for consumers throughout their path to purchase. At 1WorldSync, we understand product information at all levels and have worked with thousands of suppliers and manufacturers, from the nation's largest and most influential to small, independent companies. We create a successful, transparent product information network, along with comprehensive solutions, that consolidates product content in a single repository. This process improves efficiency, increases sales growth and provides consumers with trusted content for informed lifestyle decisions.

Ultimately though, the biggest beneficiary is the consumer. They want to know what they want to know when they want to know it and care little about the behind-the-scenes machinations that must go on to deliver on their ever increasing expectations.

Dan Wilkinson is chief commercial officer with 1WorldSync.