Does keeping it real, really work?
During the pandemic, successful brands were able to adapt an online presence to build trust and establish a deeper level of connection with the customers, teams and communities they serve.
We are all rethinking values and looking for authentic products with a purpose. Wellness and lifestyle brands New Balance and WW (formerly Weight Watchers) shared how they are communicating — and acting — with customers and associates during The Retail Summit Online session, “Keeping it Real: Communicating with Authenticity,” that I moderated earlier this month.
Staging doesn’t resonate
Super-curated content and paying large sums of money to influencers is out. Have you watched #FakeFamous?
According to Chris Davis, chief marketing officer & senior vice president of merchandising, New Balance is a challenger brand and strives to be the best, not the biggest. New Balance intentionally avoids using the “I” word — they have athletes, ambassadors and partnerships vs. sponsorships to showcase values, products and co-author content. Every partnership donated a portion of proceeds to charitable organization(s).
WW is a purpose-driven brand that aims to inspire healthy habits for life. The company reformulated its entire food product portfolio to remove artificial ingredients, stated Gail Tifford, chief brand officer. WW carefully considers relationships based on honesty and the ability to share one’s journey, like James Corden, actor, host of the “The Late Late Show” and WW’s new partner.
Causes aren’t an afterthought anymore
Programs aligned with values have moved to the beginning of engagement cycles.
New Balance took only two weeks to transform domestic production from making shoes to masks for medical professions In March 2020. The $100K New Balance Foundation fights childhood obesity in underserved communities. It was once a separate entity but now sits within the organization for better alignment.
When the world went virtual, WW saw people stop taking care of themselves, so they created an internal wellness program. The live cooking classes and fitness activities generated became the foundation for D360, the company’s new digital offering, where wellness coaches share real-time and on-demand life experiences. WW also partnered with Feeding America to close the nutrition gap and founded the Healthy Living Coalition to improve global food systems and food security.
These two companies put their values front-and-center when making decisions. Causes, collaborative offerings and conscious connections with customers and teams drive engagement and loyalty.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do brands and retailers have an authenticity perception problem with consumers? How do they go about becoming more authentic?