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With further political upheaval in 2017, consumers’ crisis of trust is deepening, and leading to greater emotional involvement and action. Sleuthy Shoppers are investigative consumers. Skeptical of mass-produced products and the motivations of the companies that create them, tired of empty rhetoric and soothing words of assurance, they are taking action to find out more. Now, if companies do not provide tangible proof of practices, Sleuthy Shoppers will turn to independent online sources for information.
Survivors of the recession and recent traitors to materialism, Sleuthy Shoppers span from Gen X to Gen Z, but are serious about the causes in which they believe. This intensity extends to their view of the companies they buy from, or even work for, and every company is judged as either a friend or an enemy to their cause.
When every purchase is a statement, nobody is afforded the luxury of sitting on the fence. Today, it is no longer sufficient merely to respond to consumer feedback, or to take a stance on an issue: companies must provide proof. Sleuthy Shoppers have unlimited information at their fingertips, and can effortlessly investigate companies of interest. To build trust, companies must offer detailed evidence, preferably with pictorial or video support, on their supply chain and labour practices. Accompanying third-party certification is even better.
For Sleuthy Shoppers, the case to be solved starts at the head of the supply chain. They investigate the full production process, from material/ingredient sourcing to production and distribution, along with information on all parties involved along the way. Detailed evidence of business practices allows Sleuthy Shoppers to understand the full history behind product development and production. In turn, this knowledge and interaction allows them to feel closer to and more comfortable with the end product.
Large corporations may have seen recent success with faux artisanal products that tie products back to original recipes, flavours and stories through clever marketing. However, Sleuthy Shoppers are past this, and now conduct more prolonged investigations to unveil the full product journey. They look for evidence of Fair Trade procurement, environmentally-friendly production, fair wages, FSC-certified paper packaging and energy-efficient distribution. They would ideally like to understand—preferably through video evidence—all the poignant, tangible steps of the product’s journey. Sleuthy Shoppers are no longer just buying a product, they are buying its entire history and everything that it represents.
Companies and brands are beginning to understand that Sleuthy Shoppers’ path to purchasing starts far ahead of the transaction process. The best way to build trust is to be vulnerable and truly showcase the history of the product and the experiences of the people who made it.