How product transparency can change the system

A few years back, companies jumped on the bandwagon of social media and with it, social marketing. In the 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, compiled by Social Media Examiner on the basis of responses from over 3,000 industry professionals, 86 per cent of those quizzed said social media was important for business, with nearly half saying they had been using it as a promotional strategy for more than two years.

The goal of social marketing is exposure and engagement with consumers, which initiates sales. However, the report highlighted that only one in three of marketers felt that their social media campaigns were effective. It comes in the wake of a recent admission by Facebook – named the preferred platform by half of the respondents in the same survey – that content generated by businesses is now competing with up to 1,500 other posts for placement on a user’s news feed.

As a result, the website’s new display algorithm gives priority to content which users and their friends have interacted with, liked and shared. Brands must therefore inspire activity in order to be highly ranked. “The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them,” said the statement. After all, behind each social media profile is an individual with passion, curiosity and scepticism.

I firmly believe that people will always be at the heart of marketing, no matter the mechanism – and, I believe that transparency in the value chain is the key to consumer engagement and business success. Consumers want to believe that the brands they choose make life better. Positive social and environmental actions across employee wages, anti-corruption policies, community support and care of the environment have a human impact and therefore underpin the personal relevance and thus, the importance of a brand.

Means of enabling the transparent business operations are already in development on the supply side of the production chain. The Open Supply Chain Platform, which is being developed by the World Bank Institute and Sedex, will allow enterprises of all sizes to monitor labour standards, ethics and environmental activities of their suppliers online. The benefits are human: WBI Program Lead Benjamin Herzberg has explained that the system will help in “achieving shared goals…ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.”

Meanwhile on the consumer side, Positive Luxury was founded to enable brands to communicate these social and environmental actions to their consumers in a jargon free language. As brands begin to relay details of their values in a way that is easy for potential customers to understand, it will highlight a new dimension on which a brand can offer benefits to its consumers through the purchasing of its products. Business success is no longer about what a brand says; as the Chinese proverb states ‘the superior man is modest in his speech but exceeds in his actions.’ The same is true for companies.

Written by Diana Verde Nieto, Positive Luxury

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