Product, price, and quality used to be enough. Brands created products with good, better, best strategies targeting specific customer segments based on price and quality differences. Classifying customers and products allowed for more targeted offers – and a closer connection to the consumer.

Then, Apple and Amazon reinvented the shopping experience. Digital and mobile took off. Customer experience became a point of differentiation in the store, online, and on devices. Customer experience – omni channel retailing – and all other forms have been a core value for the past decade.

Now, a new value is emerging…transparency. It’s not enough to have a good product, at a good price, with high quality, and a rewarding shopping experience. The rise in health consciousness, a more connected society, and frequency of recalls and social responsibility issues have pushed consumer interest – and demands – for transparency for how products are made, where they are made, what they are made of, and who made them.

Outside of legal regulations, every brand will need to determine what is the right level of transparency for their company and customers. Sometimes having a consumer scan a product to obtain farm level information will make sense. In other cases, simply a country of origin will suffice. 1% of consumers will want to know everything. For the other 99%, while they will likely expect and value more information over time, what they really want to know – is that the brand they are buying from has a safe and responsible supply chain. They want to trust in the brand promise. However, many brands still only know their immediate suppliers – and to assure this trust, they need to dig deeper.

In 2016, the technology and business practices exist to truly create brand trust by assuring a safe and responsible supply chain. Yes, supply chains are complex and global. Yes, they represent thousands of companies – some who don’t want to share information. But if over a billion people can connect on Facebook, when it comes to knowing the supply chain, it’s not enough to say “I don’t know.”

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