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“Not just transparent, but naked and proud ;-)”

So what’s next for the mega-trend of transparency? Brands must move from ‘having nothing to hide’, to pro-actively showing and proving they have nothing to hide, and go beyond uttering lofty statements on 'values' or 'culture' to real, unambiguous and clear evidence, or statements about actual results.

No, not all consumers will be this demanding, but as total transparency becomes a hygiene factor, even those that aren’t will expect brands to prove their ethical and environmental credentials to those that do care.

Some stats:

  • The percentage of global consumers who trust business to do what is right fell from 56% in 2011 to 53% in 2012 (Source: Edelman, January 2012).
  • The proportion of people saying brands making a notable positive contribution to their lives is around 8% in European markets, and 5% in the US. Interestingly, the comparable figures in in China and Latin America are 57% and 30% respectively (Source: Havas, February 2012).
  • 69% of US consumers said they are more likely to buy from a brand that talks publicly about its CSR results, versus the 31% who would purchase from a brand that talks about its CSR mission and purpose (Source: Cone Communications, October 2012).
  • Only 44% of Americans trust companies’ green claims (Source: Cone Inc., March 2012).

While the bulk of the examples below might be food-related, the takeaway is clear... Only brands that have the utmost confidence in their product (and themselves) will be able to go FULL FRONTAL*.

If you’re wondering what will your customers say if you go FULL FRONTAL, the real question for 2013 will be what they will think if you don’t?

* For those that find this scary, then re-reading our FLAWSOME Trend Briefing should help convince you that it won’t be the end of the world if things aren’t perfect. It’s the intent that matters.

McDonald’s: Calorie information on menus

September 2012 saw McDonald’s begin publishing calorie information on all its restaurant menus and drive-thru windows in the US, while the company also began promoting its ‘Favorites Under 400 Calories’ menu, which includes lighter dishes such as the Filet-O-Fish sandwich and the Egg McMuffin.

Natura: Socio-environmental targets and failures revealed in annual report

Eco-friendly Brazilian cosmetics brand Natura provides a comprehensive list of all of its socio-environmental targets in its annual report. End of last year, targets such as water consumption, employee training time and reducing solid waste were labeled as ‘Not Achieved’, and followed by an adjusted target for 2012.

Yi Mu Tian: Chinese organic farm

Mindful of Chinese consumers’ concerns over food safetly, organic farm Yi Mu Tian uses digital food tracking system. The high-tech farm, which uses computers for temperature regulation, lighting and watering, operates a Traceability Code System that allows consumers to track any food item back to the field in which it was grown. Customers can also track the growth of vegetables by camera. As of October 2012, the farm had fulfilled home delivery orders to over 60,000 families in Shanghai.

Kimitachi: Sushi monitoring via webcam

In September 2012, Japanese restaurant Kimitachi opened a franchise in Curitiba, Brazil after a successful pilot in Florianópolis. Customers ordering takeout can follow their food preparation via a video system installed in the restaurant’s kitchen. Kimitachi created the system to “humanize sushi delivery” and give consumers more transparency on the dish preparation.