It’s no big secret that shoppers today are more likely to purchase products from brands they feel a connection with. Even when we’re not actually shopping local, we crave insight into the lives of the people who created the products we use and consume. Shoppers are interested not just in what you make, but how it’s made.
In a 2017 study done by graduate student researchers at the Fashion Institute of Technology found that 48% of Millennial consumers are more likely to buy from a brand if they know the people behind it, and recommend creating a “strong brand community” to target this subset of shoppers. Also, Two-thirds of consumers say they are more likely to buy from companies that offer information beyond what appears on the physical label, that’s according to our recent 2018 report, The Transparency Imperative.
Given the amount of research that has been done on the topic, it is no surprise that brands are clamoring to respond. But with limited space on product packaging, brands have had to think outside of the box, pun intended, to tell their brand’s story. Hence, the rise of “off-package attributes.”
Off-package attributes are simple and effective marketing messages that can be accessed via a brand’s website or a product’s digital label, like an industry-standard SmartLabel page. This type of product attribution can be used to put a face to a product, and humanize a brand by communicating a narrative concerning social and environmental sustainability. These initiatives can be the building blocks of a brand’s personal connection to today’s shoppers and help build stronger brand loyalty.
We’ve seen smaller brands sharing their sustainability stories for years, successfully gaining a following of younger consumers who are willing to pay more for the products and the brands they trust. But these days, it has been impossible to ignore the larger manufacturers who have jumped on the sustainability bandwagon and are engaging consumers by utilizing off-package attributes to lead to this story.
Some great examples are brands like Conagra and Bimbo Bakeries, which has added sustainability statements to its SmartLabel page across their entire portfolios, and Topco, who adds brand statements to each of their product pages. But one of the best-in-class examples is Unilever.
Their home page has an incredibly homey feel and immediately starts to tell the story of sustainability and health. They have humanized their brand from the moment you get to their landing page with images of volunteers cleaning up a river, farmers hand-picking ingredients in a field, and a mother teaching her young daughter to brush her teeth. Today’s shoppers need to know that a manufacturer has prioritized sustainable manufacturing, human health, and high-quality ingredients before they give their loyalty.
Unilever has heavily developed SmartLabel® pages, which not only give their customers in-depth information about the product they are holding but steer that customer to learn more about Unilever as a company. They provide off-package attributes like ingredient description, ingredient-level source information, sustainability, BE disclosure and even instructions on how to go zero waste with their packaging.
This is a perfect example of how brands can utilize space beyond their physical packaging to develop a bond with their customers leading to more brand loyalty.