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It Doesn’t Matter If It’s Legal
Consumers couldn’t be clearer. They are loyal to companies they trust, and they trust companies that “do the right thing,” which is often a higher standard than “follow the law.” If a company misleads them, shoppers will punish it.

According to GfK, Americans’ distrust of corporations is high and growing. 64% of all consumers say it is harder for companies to gain their trust now than in the past. Across many business categories, including retailing and food manufacturing, consumers’ level of trust is down significantly vs a year ago.

Why do consumers have so little trust in business? The #1 reason is that senior executives are paid too much. Other key factors include, “companies make up lost earnings at their customers’ expense” and “more and more products are being made overseas.” Note that all these factors relate to consumers’ values.

Equally intriguing, consumers favor firms that tell the truth, even when that truth is not pretty. 75% of consumers say that they do not hold it against a company if their environmental efforts fall short, as long as they admit it. On the other hand, 71% of consumers will stop buying a product if they feel they have been misled by its environmental claims.

The sunscreen industry is about to be a case study for this trend. How do we make sure our industry is not?

We should think about...
  • Do our product and our marketing meet consumers' standards not just legal standards?
  • Are we being transparent and truthful, even when what we have to report isn't all positive?
Sources: Cone Trend Tracker 2011, Edelman 2011, GfK Custom Research 2011,
Scientific American 2011, Seth Godin 2011
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