The Age of Transparency: How consumer attitudes have changed, and why brands must do the same

From GDPR to social media, the world of information has changed. And so too have consumer attitudes, with increased awareness and interest in data protection, ethical behaviour and transparency.

GDPR, the most recent and highly-publicised change, has perforated the public consciousness as well as the business community. Consumers are now more aware and therefore more cautious over how their data is being used than ever before.

The new regulation was put in place to ensure a higher standard of consumer consent. Yet, despite the heavily publicised lead up, it was reported that 60% of EU businesses were still unprepared for GDPR when it came into effect on 25th May.

However, the shift in consumer attitudes goes far beyond GDPR compliance. Consumers now want and even expect businesses to be transparent about their intentions across the full spectrum of business activities.

Transparency, consent, authenticity and trust are central to affirming all-important long-lasting brand relationships but they remain a challenge for many organisations. A study carried out by measurement and analytics firm Integral Ad Science (IAS) revealed that 56% of senior marketing professionals cite transparency as a key concern in their advertising.

Transparency in marketing

There are many customer touchpoints throughout a consumer’s buying journey. Understanding and improving the points can enhance user and customer journey mapping. Yet, each one brings about greater risks for businesses if their intentions are unclear.

As our head of performance marketing Paul Court argues, “understanding all customer touchpoints and ensuring that compliant and transparent activity is consistently demonstrated will lead to stronger results”.

Social media is a great example with sites such as Instagram and Twitter allowing for direct contact to be made between a consumer and a company. Consumers can even go so far as connecting with company directors (if they so wish), thus demonstrating an even higher level of openness, transparency and cultural awareness.

Transparency in culture

But transparency is not a tactic to help companies attract consumers. Authenticity is key and that must ultimately come from within – a company’s core values and culture.

According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey, only 51% of respondents feel their values match their employer. Failure to be clear and ethical in business proceedings has a negative effect on staff, leading to decision-making that can damage the external brand image.

A company’s core values should be in harmony with not only their staff but with their consumers’ attitudes, cementing a clear and mutual understanding of honest and ethical proceedings.

Transparency in data

Considering all of this, GDPR should not be viewed as a blocker, but as an opportunity to affirm the relationship between your brand and your consumers. Transparent companies will be able to disclose the fair and ethical reasons behind their regulatory processes, building trust in the process.

Research carried out by Forbes showed that when a company uses data in a relevant way and can be trusted, the customer is more willing to share their data. Offering reassurance and providing customers with the real reasons behind information requests online will therefore nurture the brand-customer relationship.

The assistance of third-party companies in that endeavour, whether that be in lead generation or other parts of the business, must be founded upon responsible and ethical practices. Partners must be committed to putting transparency at the forefront of their business proceedings to ensure that the delicate trust between brand and consumer can be strengthened even further.

To learn more about our transparent approach, read what ASE Global had to say about our GDPR compliant leads.