A little while back I wrote on the idea that Transparency is the new Green after Edward Snowden hit the global press as he dashed away from the desperate attempts of the NSA to arrest him. Snowden’s acts, and those of fellow transparency pioneer Julian Assange show a clear trend in digital society that wants greater open accountability, at all levels. There following draws uncanny parallels to that of the early years in the ‘Green Movement’, whose origins in the twentieth century with grassroots movements concerned with the wilderness, pollution and human health. Where early pioneers like Richard Douglas “Dick” Lamm challenges corporate America to think differently.
Today, TrendWatcing released the idea of 'Guilt free consumption' in the November Trends report, GUILT-FREE CONSUMPTION (GFC) is a compelling answer to the current, epic quest for more aware, more ethical, more sustainable consumerism. A movement underpinned by our digital society that puts information in the hands of everyone, and the desires for more information only grows.
Definition: Fueled by a pervasive awareness of the conflicts between their consumerist impulses and their aspirations to be 'good', experienced consumers are increasingly wracked with guilt. The result? A growing hunger for a new kind of consumption: one free from worry (or at least with less worry) about its negative impact, yet that allows continued indulgence.
Every day, consumers are served more information on dysfunctional business processes and ethics, hear the strained voices of workers from developing countries, or receive scientific insights on the health drawbacks of many a favourite (and processed) snack or beverage.
It has thus become completely impossible for any individual in near- and fully mature consumer societies to claim ignorance over the havoc his or her consumption is and has been wreaking. Whether its Burger King, Coca-a-Cola or the NSA, the consumer is now empowered with sufficient information to make their own decisions on what they believe is ethical, sustainable and morale. Imagine is the secret ingredient in Coke was bad for sustainability, such an idea would spread like wild fire through our digital lives. Impacting consumer choices at scale within days.
However, achieving greater transparency is not always easy given the increasingly complex and dynamic nature of institutional activities. To proactively respond to consumer demand for transparency, companies should consider adopting a simplified model of disclosure statement.
The relatively recent trend towards providing clearer information to customers and using simple language among central banks across the globe is a strong indication that transparency is here to stay. However, fees and new stipulations will always be a necessity for banks.
So if your organisation is targeting the Generation Y, The Digital Native or the Facebook Generation, be prepared to be transparent. It won’t be an option, and if you hide the truth. The collective power of the digital native, will discover your secrets and punish you with their buying power.
The reality of the modern world is that if your doing something wrong behind closed doors. The Facebook Generation will find out, they will share what your doing, and you will be held accountable.
Share your thoughts... when was the last time you found out information on a brand that influenced your consumer choice?