Totally transparent

Expectations for transparency have never been so high – no longer something consumers desire, but increasingly a hygiene factor. People expect information about how products have been made to be available at a click. If it’s not there, the assumption is that the brand has something to hide.

How is this sub-trend evolving?

How it was

Appreciation of efforts to show consumers what’s going on behind the scenes

A large part of Innocent smoothies’ appeal is the straightforward description of what goes into each carton

How it is

Expectation that brands are 100% transparent in all that they do

KFC’s new open plan kitchens show consumers exactly what their food is and how it’s cooked, edifying consumers who have concerns about food preparation in fast food restaurants

How it will be

Acknowledgement of mistakes and appreciation for the humility of brands being ‘just like us’ – as long as there is a desire and plan to improve.

Fukushima Bimi Project, for example,  promotes the facts behind the safe products originating from the area hit by the nuclear disaster – removing unfounded consumer scepticism around consuption of certain foods and drinks.

In-market examples from around the world

What: An annual culture day that invites people from the local area to tour the prison and surrounding grounds, helping them better understand the lives and conditions of prisoners. The immersion includes prison bento box tasting and the opportunity to purchase goods made by the prisoners.
Why: As with elsewhere in the world, Japanese prisons are notoriously stark and joyless places. This prison is acknowledging their shortcomings and inviting people to become part of the conversation for improvement.
What: McDonalds is changing its chicken nugget recipe, using more recognisable ingredients such as lemon-juice solids. They are also addressing some rumours they know have been flying about their ingredients – the mysterious pink gloop. To combat this they have created a video in a Cargill factory in Canada that makes and freezes the nuggets before selling them to McDonald’s restaurants for consumption.
Why: Taking control of the rumour-mill lets McDonalds set the record straight. They can also admit, in the process, that their previous recipe was not as ‘clean living’ as they would have liked and are therefore revising their recipe.
What: Mars are requesting that fast food chains stop using their candies and chocolates on the dessert menu (e.g. in a sundae) in their continued effort to help consumers cut down their sugar, far, and Caloric intake.
Why: Taking a responsible stance to transparency about the nutritional composition of their products, Mars are letting people decide for themselves where and when to indulge while knowing the facts.
What: Evol Foods in the US pride themselves on producing frozen food products that only contain ingredients that will typically be found in the kitchen cupboard or fridge.
Why: Answering the growing demand for products free of  artificial flavours, colours, additives, preservatives and fillers.
What: There is no information that Swiss beauty firm Weleda doesn’t share. On its website, consumers can find information on everything from its commitment to social sustainability  — including fair trade and wages guidelines — to a list of environmental standards.
Why: Weleda sets its own standard in ‘natural, redefining it to mean “no more than a one-step chemical change from the natural source.” Weleda products list over 1,000 ingredients of this kind.
What: Eureka Dairy Farm in South Korea sells dairy products to buyers through an online portal where they share details about production techniques, including video updates, so buyers can find out about  the farming first hand.
Why: Consumers are seeking new safety guarantees from food and beverage providers, looking to diffuse the risk of low quality or tainted products. This farm  built consumer trust by combining business transparency with values-led brand purpose.