Cohn & Wolfe’s third annual Authentic Brands research study found that eight of the Top 20 “authentic” brands in the US are food retailers, including: Walmart (#1), Target (#5), Costco (#9), Whole Foods Market (#10), Publix Super Markets (#11), Kroger (#13), Safeway (#17), and Trader Joe’s (#18).
On a global basis, supermarkets ranked the highest of all industries for displaying authentic behaviors consumers feel are important. Indeed, it was the only sector named by a majority of respondents (52%) for its authenticity. Electronics companies were named second most often (44%), followed by retailers and banks (tied at 43%), coffee shops (42%), and energy providers and travel providers (tied at 38%).
To be seen as authentic, here are the Top 5 general behaviors consumers are looking for:
Four out of five of these behaviors are dependent on the employees and management, i.e. the people. And much of this responsibility falls into the domain of the retail RD. From explaining nutritional value of foods and how to keep families healthy, to clearly explaining the sustainability efforts exercised by the brands stocked in the store, the store’s local polices, all the way up to corporate strategies, retail RDs are cornerstone to the integrity consumers expect and desire.
It’s important to note, that all of the bulleted measures above are more important to global consumers than product utility (61%), brand appeal (60%) and popularity among peers (39%). The takeaway: supermarkets, their employees, and policies must be transparent and ethical in order to earn consumer confidence.
By contrast, events such as data security breaches, product recalls, and food contaminations prompted dramatic increases in consumer anger last year. Food safety and hygiene are also high on the hostility list. The survey says 77% of global consumers would be “extremely angry if a company was found to produce food in an unsanitary way,” 72% would feel this way if a food company were to “use low-quality ingredients when promoting a high-quality product,” and 61% would feel this way if a brand “conceals or fails to report some of the ingredients used in food products.” Here is where the RD expertise comes into play, through store tours, promotions, demos and more: being an available resource to provide answers and clarify consumer needs as well as offering support and being an ally makes customers feel heard and satisfied.
Here’s the kicker, the payoff for being authentic is bankable: 63% of global consumers would buy from an authentic brand over and above competitors – and this figure is higher, at 68%, in the US, according to Cohn & Wolfe.