If you’re here, maybe it’s because you read my May post about defining the term “transparency” and you’re back for more. If not, WELCOME!

In my last post, I ran through three key elements of a strong transparency policy:

  1. Consumer values come first
  2. Production + processes must be clear
  3. Education is power

Here, today, I’m continuing that discussion and providing examples of budding transparency trends. The theme you’ll see – outside sources are now taking the reins, putting brands (especially those sold on shelf) on the defense.

Retailers of all kinds (mass, drug, grocery, specialty) are now changemakers, forcing brands to rethink their internal standards.Click To Tweet

Retailers are Setting the Standards: Retailers of all kinds (mass, drug, grocery, specialty) are now changemakers, forcing brands to rethink their internal standards.

  • Credo Beauty is taking on “clean beauty,” issuing bold new standards this summer, including a long list of rules vendors must comply with. The best part: Brands must eliminate the word “natural” on their packages, unless they can prove (through product composition) that the product is, in fact, natural.
  • Not only did CVS ban image retouching in their marketing materials, they plan to ban it amongst their brand partners by 2020. Their intent feels believable and real; ending unrealistic body imagery. Talk about ballsy and beautiful. Here’s the first look at their campaign.

States are Joining the Party: California’s Prop 65 was just the beginning. State governments are taking matters into their own hands instead of waiting for FDA.

  • Hawaii just banned oxybenzone, a sunscreen ingredient that has been FDA approved for nearly 40 years, based on the idea that it’s degrading coral. For years the sunscreen industry has been trying to set the record straight on oxybenzone’s safety, including CHPA, but this is likely the first of several states to make big decisions negatively impacting entire industry segments.

Advertising isn’t Off Limits: As CVS demonstrated, marketing content is a new place for blunt transparency. Advertisers are also experimenting with it.

  • Esurance took an interesting approach, when it launched an honest brand campaign this week. Dennis Quaid starts the ad by acknowledging, “this is a commercial about insurance” and that they chose him because he’s “highly likeable.” It’s a humorous approach that shows us how far brands are willing to take the open and honest attitude our generation has come to expect.

So, what are brands to do in light of these new trends? Adapt! They’re not going away and we can’t shove them under a rug until they hit our industry.

Companies can start by:

  • Being the one to start the conversation with your supply chain partners about how you can work together on transparency efforts.
  • Taking advocacy groups seriously when they tease governmental pushes, and thinking ahead about how you can evolve.
  • Embracing the honesty. Emerson Spartz said it well when he explained Gen Z “has the strongest bullshit filter.”

What are you doing to advance your company’s transparency efforts?

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