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Shopper Trends|September 22, 2021

Are You Honest Enough for Shoppers? 5 Steps to Get There

We asked shoppers to speak their truths about what they buy, how and why, and learned this: They expect the companies they purchase from to take responsibility for social change and to authentically PROVE it. In short, companies must “show” they are more sustainable, fair and community-focused – across all the media their customers use. Here are five opportunities for the future Shopping Life®.

It’s Time for Companies to Prove Their Authenticity 

Transparency, aka honesty, is what shoppers expect from brands and retailers today, based on our latest How America Shop’s® research report, “The New Shopper Truths.”

From our large national survey, combined with one-on-one interviews among shoppers under 40, we’ve learned that shoppers expect hard proof before they will accept claims that a company is sustainable, eco-friendly or heathier. Our big three takeaways from the research: 

  • Conscious consumerism is dominant. Fairness is the shopper’s No. 1 value: 71% of respondents value fair treatment for all workers. Nearly 60% want companies to provide opportunities for employees to prosper, and half want value-based products to be priced so all people can afford them.
  • Shoppers demand more than words, words, words. 47% of those surveyed feel the terms “sustainable” and “environmentally safe” have been reduced to overused marketing buzzwords. They will second-guess these terms and respond better to clear descriptions of how a product is truly recyclable or sustainable.
  • They expect YOU, brands and retailers, to help them in their social change. 52% want companies to offer products that are better for the environment, and 55% want retailers to showcase and promote these better products so shoppers can quickly and easily make better choices. 

5 Activation Steps to Stand Out Among New Shopper Truths

Shoppers are making it clear what brands and retailers that want to be taken seriously must do next. 

1: Establish your trusted role.

Companies should start by examining their corporate culture in the context of these New Shopper Truths. They can then decide what they can own, how quickly they can change and where on this truth spectrum they want to exist. 

2: Tell your value-driven story, but only if it’s authentic. 

Two words: genuine advertising. Shoppers want to learn the details of how retailers and brands make their products differently, where their ingredients are sourced and what they are doing for their employees.

3: Tell it on the platforms they listen to. 

Shoppers may no longer believe in buzzword labels, but they do believe in seeing the full story. Retailers and brands should show their authentic stories using TikTok, Instagram and other apps that support visual storytelling and attract influencers to support the stories.

4: Single out the “good guys.” 

It’s risky, but retailers that call out the proven “better-for-us” brands on their shelves make it easier for their customers to find products that support their values. This leads to trust.

5: Don’t wait to be perfect. 

You don’t need to do everything all at once. Just get started! No whitewashing or greenwashing – companies simply need to be transparent about where they are in the journey. 

The Consequences of Business-as-Usual are Dire

Shoppers have a way of getting what they want, and small upstart brands and retailers that have been disrupting the marketplace for more than a decade have grown into big businesses by giving shoppers what they want. If brand leaders don’t respond, the more “disruptive” brands will. 

WSL Strategic Research is continuously performing qualitative and quantitative research to better predict where the shopper is headed, in order to activate more effective retail and brand strategies for you. To learn more from our latest How America Shops® report, “The New Shopper Truths,” visit us here.

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