9 out of 10 consumers will stop purchasing from brands that lack transparency

There is a clear tie between transparent business communications on social media and consumer spending, according to a new report.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Data breaches, fake news, and misinformation have seeded doubt in consumers. Organisations want to step up and restore customer confidence. With this crisis in trust, organisations are looking to add transparency to their business practices according to a new report.

Chicago, Ill.,-based social media analytics company Sprout Social has released its Social media and the evolution of transparency report.

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It surveyed 1,000 US consumers on their transparency beliefs, expectations and desires.

It discovered that consumers' expectations of transparency grow daily. Almost nine out of 10 Americans believe transparency from businesses is more important than ever before.

And transparency is important to Americans with 85 percent of respondents saying a business' history of being transparent makes them more likely to give it a second chance after a bad experience.

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Almost nine out of 10 people (85 percent) are more likely to stick by a business during a brand crisis if it has a history of being transparent.

Organisations can reap rewards from being transparent. Nine out of 10 people (89 percent) said a business can regain their trust if it admits to a mistake and is transparent about the steps it will take to resolve the issue. A similar ratio (85 percent) are more likely to stick with them during crises.

But transparency is not enough. Companies need to tell their customers that they are transparent. Two out of five (40 percent) of people who say brand transparency is more important than ever, attribute it to social media.

Over half of consumers (53 percent) are likely to consider brands that are transparent on social for their next purchase.

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Four out of five (81 percent) of people believe businesses have a responsibility to be transparent when posting on social media--a higher standard than they set for politicians, non-profits, friends, family, and even themselves.

However, only one in six (15 percent) of consumers believe brands are currently "very transparent" on social.

9 out of 10 consumers will stop purchasing from brands that lack transparency ZDNet
(Image: Sprout Social)

People feel brands lack transparency when they withhold information (69 percent). Ignoring questions -- regardless of who asks them -- can be deemed to be detrimental to the brand as well.

If companies are not transparent, then consumers will look elsewhere. A lack of transparency on social means that nine out of ten (86 percent) of people are likely to take their business to a competitor.

Transparency is not simply a sales tactic, or a way to communicate a new marketing message.

Organisational transparency asks every level of an organization to adjust how it engages, to demonstrate its aspirations and its values. Brands should commit to being transparent in both reactive and proactive ways.

Jamie Gilpin, chief marketing officer at Sprout Social ,said: "Our data shows that transparency truly makes the difference in forming lasting connections between businesses and consumers."

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This company-wide effort should have buy-in from the top. CEOs that are more present on social makes it easier for organisations to connect with target audiences and earn their loyalty -- from shoppers and from potential employees.

Give your boss the microphone and embrace the social channels that will ultimately bring in business for the brand. Transparency drives loyalty, and loyalty will bring benefits for the business.

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