The Truth: What Consumers Want

Do you believe that large corporations are truthful to people? Yeah, we don’t blame you, just about nobody does. In a poll conducted asking 100 Boston University students whether they felt they could trust product advertisements, a mere 3% said “yes.”  The majority felt that they would trust the opinions of friends over ads. Would a brand be more successful if it could gain the trust of consumers?

As a general business rule, it is important to be honest. The truth sells. Companies such as Toms, Whole Foods, and Stonyfield Farms have made great success from their transparency. The bottom line is that companies who: (1) have good practices and (2) disclose these practices effectively are the ones that do well.

A Business News Daily survey reported that people are willing to pay for products manufactured in sustainable ways or that are more environmentally-friendly — a lot more. Respondents offered to pay 15- 20% more money for sustainable and ethically produced apparel. The catch is that companies must be able to prove it.

The world of social media has turned disclosure into something that is not only useful, but necessary for a brand to thrive. We as consumers expect two-way symmetrical communication from brands; we expect to be informed. Web 2.0 has created an environment where malpractice can be discovered and spread to large audiences with a few clicks. It is where information about a brand is often sought and can be easily found.

McDonalds is a corporation that spends more time and money hiding truths than disclosing them. This brand is generally viewed as deceptive by the public, with many consumers skeptical as to what the ingredients in McDonalds’ food really are. McDonalds’ advertising during the Beijing Olympic games included Michael Phelps enjoying Big Macs and French fries with a smile. These ads were an attempt to say something along the lines of “It’s okay to eat Big Macs because Michael Phelps does!” Disclaimer: If you burn 5,000 calories a day, you can afford to eat at McDonalds. The rest of us, however, probably cannot afford to load a plate with cheeseburgers. McDonalds is a company that could benefit from being truthful with their customers about their brand.

Not only, in most cases, are sales better for brands that are truthful, but these brands also fare better in times of crisis. When a corporation has a history of being truthful, consumers are more likely to trust them in crisis, and move on.

No surprises here. The truth sells.


1 thought on “The Truth: What Consumers Want

  1. Do you think brands like TOMS and Stonyfield are honest because they have a good product? The reason McDonalds has to cover things up is because what they make is so bad for people. Can you imagine an honest Mcdonald’s commerical… i don’t think they’d sell alot of Hamburgers! The public wants mre than honesty, we want products that serve an overall good, and because the public wants these thing whenever a company has them they advertise them. Good article by the way!


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