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The brand police are knocking at the door.  You can run but you can’t hide!

In today’s Ad Age, Jack Neff writes about Good Guide, a consumer brand rating site that has already put their scale of 1-10 on over 75,000 products.  While consumer watchdogs have been around a long, long time, this more recent entry highlights a rising note that we have mentioned in prior posts—in the digital age of massive choice, one of the biggest consumer demands will be authenticity.  GoodGuide highlights the fact that the engaged consumer will not tolerate the brand that mouths claims that are not demonstrably accurate.

picture-17Utilizing their academic backgrounds, UC Berkeley professor, Dara O’Rourke,  and his colleagues use the power of various databases, consumer input and the want / need for a reinvigorated policing source, Good Guide seems to have most of the modern marketing maxims in play.   They are delivering objective information on the authenticity of consumer brands—proving their own authenticity (the lack of ads helps).  They are creating a genuine partnership between their site, the brands, and the consumer by both utilizing consumer input and informing brands, very transparently, about how they can improve their scores and, thus, their standing with the public.  They are also delivering all of this in the mandatory personal way.  Within brand conglomerates, divisions can work on their own ratings.  For the consumer, O’Rourke says they will soon allow users to create their own personalized scales based upon how each of them weigh the various indicia of “good”.

It all seems to be working.  Awareness of the site is rising. Brands are actively engaging.  Aileen Zerrudo, the Director of Communications for Clorox notes that they are genuinely listening to what the consumer is saying via GoodGuide.  Moreover, the company claims that click to conversion rates from the site to Amazon.com are 5-10 times higher than most retailers’ traditional returns.   A well-known brand actually wanting to listen, improve and increase market share?  I’m betting that the smart brand begins to actively seek out these kinds of relationships.

So how does a brand fare well with GoodGuide and, presumably, turn the maybe consumer into a loyal participant?  According to GoodGuide: (1) Change Ingredients to meet the desire for natural; (2) Quality Management (avoid recall disasters); (3) Internal Policies matter (fair labor, CSR, etc.); (4) Green and Responsible (a clean record and sustainable production); and (5) Be Transparent (if you hide data, we will find it).

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So let’s say a brand follows the rules and carries the day with a “10”.  Now they just need to pat themselves on the back and incorporate how they got there into every aspect of their marketing.  By following the same rules in their marketing (being authentic, delivering personal value, being transparent, and actually caring enough to engage), brands will ride the wave instead of ending up in the trough.  Tout your score (in the right manner of course—sorry nitpickers) and score big with the public.  In the end, quality and authenticity need to become key elements of a brand’s story.  Deliver that story to the audience on their terms and you end up with quality, loyal, and passionate participants.

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