Companies want more from their certifications
Having just presented at the 2019 SupplySide West workshop on claims and certifications in Las Vegas, there is certainly an appetite for how to reap more benefits from third party certifications that companies are earning. As I mentioned in my presentation, many companies are earning certifications yet doing nearly nothing to promote their value to consumers.
If a company has been audited and earned a certification, it should proudly share why its products are better because of the higher standards it adheres to. Third party labels can go a long way in building trust in your brand amongst shoppers who have just a few seconds to make up their mind during their path to purchase.
Certification labels worth considering for front of packaging
Coming from the perspective of someone who manages public relations for labeling programs (like Global Animal Partnership, a leading animal welfare certification), I believe it’s critical to have brand partners include the labels they’ve earned (some of them) not just on their packaging, but on the front of the package. Certainly, every brand and every product will need to prioritize its own hierarchy of messaging, including functional benefits and certifications. You likely won’t want to—or won’t be able to— include all the certifications you have. However, consider including your most important one or two certifications, the ones you’ve determined through research are most valuable to your consumers.
Many brands seem to forget that many labeling programs are non-profit organizations; therefore, many of those labeling programs lack big marketing budgets to create awareness and drive demand amongst consumers. For a lot of labeling programs, its brand partners’ product packaging is its most effective brand ambassador, helping to build brand currency amongst shoppers for the label.
Labels help shoppers identify “better” products quickly
Consumers whom I categorize as “values shoppers” want to make better purchase decisions. Being able to spot a label helps those shoppers quickly locate the best option for them at the retail shelf and walk away content and happy.
While shopping along with a mother in Atlanta recently, she told me, “If I see two children’s vitamins on the shelf that are more or less the same, but while one just says or implies ‘organic,’ and the other has the label, I’m going to buy the one that has the actual label, ‘USDA Organic,’ on it. I will even be willing to pay a bit more for it.”
Finding products that adhere to this mom’s priorities (strictly organic, as much as possible) allows her to feel like she is making the best choice for her children. That’s a powerful emotional connection to make with shoppers, one they will remember and want to share.
This mom from Atlanta also shared, “When I discover a new product, especially if it was expensive or I took considerable time to research about it, I’ll probably be telling my other mom friends about it. I did this with products like the baby ointment I’ve used, baby shampoo and lots of other products.”
In addition to product packaging seen at the point of purchase, consumers I’ve conducted shop-along research with recently tell me they’ve also learned about labeling programs through the following:
- Retailers’ shopper marketing and staff.
- Influencers, such as food, wellness and lifestyle bloggers on Instagram.
- Awareness months, weeks or days, often promoted on social media and inside retail stores.
PR recommendations to get more from your certifications
Certifications are a means to share your brand story. Here are some of the recommendations I offered during my SupplySide West presentation on how companies can better leverage their certifications to add more value for their brand amongst consumers.
- When creating content like new photography and videography, get some close-up shots of the labels and share them with your label partners.
- Tag your label partners on relevant social media posts and use their hashtag(s).
- Display a section on your website about your label partners.
- Leverage campaigns and awareness months with your label partners (December 5 is National Comfort Food Day) or a “look for the label” evergreen type of campaign. (See my list of holidays for food marketing at greenpursepr.com/resources; I have a new 2020 version coming out in November).
- Ask your label partners how best to collaborate and communicate with them regularly to learn what they are working on and share your impending campaigns and programs.
- Take a “this, not that” approach to explaining why your higher standards make your product better.
- Bring to life the audit process so consumers understand your label is not just something you bought; it was earned.
Lisa Mabe-Konstantopoulos is CEO of Green Purse PR, a boutique research and public relations consultancy based Washington, D.C., serving the natural products industry. Mabe-Konstantopoulos is an award-winning public relations expert with recognized expertise in marketing to women, shopper research and social communications. Mabe-Konstantopoulos has over 14 years experience working with companies around the world, such as KeHE Distributors, Saffron Road, OBE Organic and Edible Arrangements.