:: What is it?
Developed by a “For Benefit” startup and with the contribution of a team of experts (i.e scientists, consumers researchers, technologists from diverse organizations such as the MIT or the University of California), this website rates consumer products based on their health, environmental and social impacts.
More than 70,000 food, household and personal care products and even toys are ranked on the website, from the shower gel you use everyday to the latest toy you were planning to get for your kids at Christmas. At home on your PC or in the stores on your mobile, you can get the information that is most important to you about any kind of product your are planning to buy.
:: Bluring lines between brand reputation and corporate reputation
Very interestingly, I noticed that GoodGuide not only provides product-related information (ingredients, toxicity with carcinogens for instance) but also analyzes data on company’s performance (i.e. climate change policies, labour concerns, etc.).
This demonstrates that brand reputation and corporate reputation are now inextricably linked. How you operate as a company is as important as what you do and what kind of product or service you sell. Product and service quality are still important, but now the definition of what constitutes “quality” also includes social and environmental-related corporate performance.
Therefore GoodGuide is raising issues and challenges not just for marketers, but also has important implications for corporate behavior and corporate communications. I am especially thinking about the risk of greenwashing, for instance if a company is commercializing an eco-friendly product while other products in the same catergory and the company’s operations as a whole are not up to the same standards.
GoodGuide’s core mission is to provide the world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental and social impacts of products and companies. It is another example that brands have lost control. Enabled with the transparency and immediacy of the web, brasnds are dealing with empowered consumers.
And no brand can now ignore this: “Increasingly discerning, well-informed consumer consumers are moving outside the purchasing funnel—changing the way they research and buy your products, resulting from the explosion of product choices and digital channels. Two-thirds of the touch points during the active-evaluation phase of a product or service involve consumer-driven activities such as Internet reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family” (McKinsey Quarterly, The Consumer Decision Journey, June 2009)
:: What to do then? Some general principles to protect corporate reputation and enhance brand equity
Never presume that you can hide or distort information about your company or products – there will always be someone to find it out and expose your potential misconduct to a greater audience. Same goes for greenwashing or ‘fake’ CSR
Consumers expect transparency from the companies they buy from, so be transparent and be ready to constantly question your practices.
Be ready to rethink your marketing & communications model. Now marketing is about directly connecting with your consumers through dialogue, openess, relationships, shared experience & engagement.
You can also follow GoodGuide on Twitter
PS: Goodguide.com is a member of bcorporation.net, a consortium of nearly 200 for-profit companies that, according to its Web site, uses “the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.” The B stands for ‘benefit’, a new kind of hybrid between for-profit and nonprofit that we are seeing more and more of today.