Politics And Your Product

Labor Day once marked the beginning of the Presidential race here in the US. That’s not true any longer as it seems we’re in a state of permanent campaigning. It does, however, mark the start of the final push for the candidates as much of the electorate is really just beginning to focus on the issues that will help them decide the results of this job interview process. Early voting begins in many states quite soon and the airwaves are filled with ads and with pundits trying to sway voters.

As you know, we don’t do politics here on the screed but we sometimes will point out a business lesson we can learn from that world. As I was watching a few of the news channels over the last few days, one issue came up over and over again with respect to the two candidates: transparency. Mr. Trump accuses Secretary Clinton of hiding information about her health, her emails, her foundation, and other things. Secretary Clinton accuses Mr. Trump about hiding his taxes, his business deals, his health, and other things as well. As an aside, I’m not quite sure how any of those issues, help do the most good for the most people, but let’s not digress. The campaign is starting to sound like the old game show: Who Do You Trust?

Both candidates haven’t been transparent and I think that’s led to a “hold your nose and vote” mentality on both sides, at least from what I can tell in speaking to my friends of all political beliefs. Neither side seems particularly enthusiastic about their candidate even if they’re supportive, and even among the ones who are excited there seems to be a recognition that their candidate has some trust issues. I think any observer would say that a lack of transparency is one of them on either side.

There is an expectation that brands – and candidates are brands – will be transparent. This is borne out by research, the latest of which was specific to the food world but I think carries over into any category. Coming from the Label Insight folks it found that:

  • Nearly all consumers (94%) are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.
  • Almost three in four consumers (73%) say they would be willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency in all attributes.
  • 81% of consumers say they would consider a brand’s entire portfolio of products if they switched to that brand as a result of increased transparency
  • 56% report that additional product information about how food is produced, handled or sourced would make them trust that brand more

Maybe in the candidates’ minds there is a thought that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission but I don’t think that brands have that luxury. When we know that we’re far better served by transparency than by hiding information that’s critical to consumer decision making, why wouldn’t we choose to open up?

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