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Consumers Care About People, Not Products

August 29, 2019

Imagine for a second, you look at a tag or a label on a box and it tells a different kind of story. It’s not about what’s IN the box. It’s about HOW what’s in the box was created and by who.

Imagine a story that reveals the craftsmanship behind who made the product or how the service was delivered, how the company was fair to that worker, why it’s good for health and how the product was made in a sustainable way that created minimal, perhaps even positive, environmental impact. Is it a dream? It shouldn’t be, because these are the kinds of behaviors consumers expect of companies.

This year’s Authenticity Gap research finds that consumers care about people more than products.


  • Understanding their customers’ needs (55%)
    • People are looking for companies to understand their needs holistically, going beyond their specific transactional needs for the product. They expect companies to connect with their values and larger sense of purpose, while also delivering the product benefits they want.
  • Creating solutions to reduce their impact on climate change/environment (47%)
    • Today’s consumers are likely concerned about the environmental impacts of their consumption habits, and yet they still want and need those products in their lives. Many are asking about and paying attention to companies that take responsibility for environmental impacts throughout their product lifecycles so that individual consumption habits are less harmful to people and the planet.
  • Impacting consumers’ health and well-being (42%)
    • Generational trends tell us that consumers are becoming more health conscious, and now our Authenticity Gap data confirms those trends as expectations for brands. People want to know companies are taking individual and population health needs into consideration when creating their products, by addressing health concerns and generating health benefits.
  • Taking care of their employees (42%)
    • Consumers have a strong expectation that companies are looking out for the employees who are creating and manufacturing their products. Active conversations about pay equity, living wages and the importance of diversity and inclusion all weigh into their holistic expectations for the purchases they make, reflecting on their own brand and values.

Today’s consumers are looking beyond the benefits of “new and improved” and toward the thoughtful creation of goods and services that delight us, add joy and take away the guilt of consuming something. (Nod to Marie Kondo.)

Let’s broaden our understanding of product communications to go beyond just meeting these changing expectations. Let’s build new narratives that highlight HOW companies are thoughtfully approaching producing new products to benefit people. As some leaders might say, let’s commit to generating (and communicating!) benefits for all stakeholders.

Download FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap Report from our dedicated report page here.