Natural Brands Get Naked and Trace Ourselves – Part 2: Getting Naked

Here’s the good news.

The new consumer doesn’t expect you to be perfect, she merely expects you to be honest. It’s perfectly okay to say, “We are not happy about the social impact of our sourcing practices. We recognize this as a major problem and are taking the following steps to rectify the situation.” Lay it out on the table for everyone to see. Be honest about your intentions, and you will be.

Companies who have embraced this kind of transparency are not merely jumping on the bandwagon, they’re getting ahead of the curve. Transparency is a way to connect with the new consumer and dialogue with her on your terms.

The new consumer doesn’t expect you to be perfect, she merely expects you to be honest.

Last year, Pure Branding partnered with Gaia Herbs to launch the industry’s first seed-to-shelf traceability program, Meet Your Herbs™. As the agency that conceived of and executed the program, we got to experience first-hand the impact that transparency can have—for a company and its customers.

With transparency, the idea is that you’ve opened the kimono to let people see what kind of stuff is underneath. With traceability, there is no kimono. We move the “stuff” to the outside, take the dialogue and flip it ass-over-teakettle. Instead of consumers asking us to show them information, we’re showing it to them and asking them to look at it.

Every Gaia Herbs package now has a Meet Your Herbs ID on it. For the fear-motivated consumers, it’s an on-pack insurance policy number. For the mission-motivated, Gaia is very publicly raising the bar of industry accountability. Where was the plant harvested? How it was grown, extracted, validated for purity? Who was affected by its production, where are the gaps and what is Gaia doing about it?

Meet Your Herbs was positioned as an entry point to Gaia’s brand story. If a consumer traces a product with Valerian Root in it, for instance, they’ll find out that Gaia’s Valerian comes from Gaia Farm, a 320-acre organic Eden. We wanted to push the farm experience out to consumers — Meet Your Herbs gave us the opportunity to do so. One more mouse click and they’re seeing photos of the farm, getting to know the farmers and taking a virtual tour of Gaia’s state-of-the-art on-site laboratories. Traceability not only invited consumers into the brand, it also gave retail staff something to talk about when recommending products.

Done right, opening up can foster a whole new conversation with all kinds of consumers. It can establish a new level of trust for your brand, and position you as a leader, change maker, philanthropist, do-gooder, world saver, health giver, you name it. The bottom line is that any level of transparency will amplify the authentic pieces of your brand story, and authenticity is exactly what people are looking for these days.