By Sara Harper, founder of Grounded Growth

Did you know that today’s consumers actually want honesty from brands and believe overwhelmingly that they are not getting it?

According to consumer research from the Consumer Goods Forum, 66% of Millennials and 79% of Gen Z consumers think that brands are never honest, or not honest enough about environmental issues.

What’s more — 58% of both Millennials and Gen Z report that they would trust a brand more if they shared challenges and “work in progress” on difficult issues.

As the study points out, “Millennials drove brands to be purposeful, but Gen Z are demanding proof.”

The research also reveals that while almost 90% of Millennials and Gen Z personally care if they receive honest information about products, only 42% of Gen Z think that brands care about providing that honest information (the number is 66% among Millennials). This overwhelming demand for honesty led Futerra to name Gen Z “The Honest Generation”.  — CSR Newswire; June 14, 2019

But how does this connect to regenerative agriculture?

Some companies have been hesitant to pursue adding regeneratively-grown ingredients into their supply chains because they fear it would call attention to the imperfections of the rest of their supply chain.

These companies fear that calling attention to one “regenerative” ingredient, for example, could make consumers think badly or question the rest of the ingredients that aren’t.

Or, some brands fear that if they take a bold step forward — defining and supporting the expansion of regenerative agriculture in a way that has provable, outcomes-based data — but is not certified organic . . . they will be accused of greenwashing even though regenerative can be better on some environmental issues than organic.

What the consumer research shows . . . is that the default position of the consumer toward any brand is NOT trust, but rather, to believe the brand is doing what they can to avoid telling them the truth about their products.  Can you really say they are wrong?  Sharing the journey toward building an even better supply chain and bringing transparency to consumers who so clearly want it is the recipe to build brand loyalty.  Talk about something that can distinguish a brand from its competitors . . . honestly talking about the challenges in your supply chain will do it!

Regenerative doesn’t mean perfect. In fact, defining regenerative in ways that very few farmers can achieve and very few consumers can afford defeats the very world-saving promises made by those aiming for perfection.

You can’t save the world without scale.

This approach does nothing to assuage consumers fears that they are not being told the truth.

There is another option. Brands that join the Grounded Growth network learn about regenerative farming from farmers that have been at the forefront of creating the movement. They have facilitated, honest conversations with those farmers about what improvements are possible.

Our members have access to resources, like outcomes-based testing companies, that can help them prove the benefits they claim without another expensive certification.

Members of our platform get access to the “LinkedIn” of regenerative agriculture . . . except in this platform, we actively facilitate conversations that help both parties create their own pragmatic regenerative supply chain — and share the honest “work in progress” journey that consumers are so clearly calling for . . . on their own terms . . . at their own pace.

Taking this journey not only helps a brand meet the “honest generation’s” expectations (as Gen Z are now called) . . . it adds a new level of purpose to the internal team of the company taking the journey — helping them retain and restore some of their best employees.

The mistake is in turning regenerative into just another high-priced unicorn . . . something that appears perfect, but isn’t believable or real.

Instead, our members take a workhorse approach to building a regenerative supply chain . . . take it step-by-step, focus on real, measurable gains and commit to transparency.

Consumers don’t believe the fairy dust they’ve been sold for the last several years . . . they are ready for the real story. By working directly with the people who make your ingredients . . . you could give it to them!