How important is transparency to consumers?

Transparency is defined as ‘‘visibility and accessibility of information especially concerning business practices’’ (Merriam-Webster, 2010). Because of transparency, we can easily get to know where the brand obtained their materials, where those materials were made and how they were transferred to every store. Almost everything in the supply chain are accessible.

As Carter and Rogers (2008) defined, sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) is s strategic, transparent integration and achievement of social, environmental, and economic goals in the systemic coordination of key interorganizational processes. Singh, de los Salmones Sanchez, and del Bosque (2008) demonstrated that transparency between the business and consumers is a key point of sustainable business practices.

Today’s consumers care about their society and environment. Transparent and sustainable products are demanded as well. Lafferty and Goldsmith (1999) found that consumers were more likely to purchase products from brands who adopt transparent business practices.

As mentioned in the article of Steve New(2018). One of the advantage that transparency bring to the brand is that transparency is an important part of the marketing mix and will give producers and retailers new ways to capitalize on brand value.

Transparency in business enrich the downstream relationship with customers, they also shape what a firm expects of its upstream suppliers. Trust at both ends are established. Transparency can anticipate the risks of enterprise, so that every link in the supply chain can be monitored by the brand, and the problem can be found and solved in time.

Then, the question is how does consumer can benefit from transparency. From the perspective of consumer, through transparency, they can know whether the product they buy is certified and reliable. In the fashion world, transparent brands give customers clear information about where the materials come from, and customers can ensure that the materials and dyes they use are safe. It is even possible to know whether cotton farmers, fabric workers and garment workers are treated fairly. However, products from transparent business are more expensive than normal ones (Tran, 2007). It is no doubt that the advantages of transparency outweigh the disadvantages to consumers.

There is an interesting article published by The Guardian (LaBrecque, 2018) that analyses “How much do consumers really care about transparency”. It mentioned that the concept of transparency is becoming a sustainable concept. When talking about the meaning of transparency, it quotes what Safia Minney, founder and chief executive of sustainable fashion retailer People Tree, said “Consumers expect that their governments are setting decent standards for good business practice overseas, but sadly this is not the case.”

Consumers’ concern for transparency is limited to defending their own interests, but when transparency become a sustainable part, their importance to consumers seems to be greatly diminished, research shows that “Only 39% of UK consumers say they would ‘buy products from brands that act responsibly, even if it means spending more’. Globally the average is 54%.”

My opinion is that it is essential to provide customers with the necessary access to the information. However, such regulatory tasks should be left to the government to verify the transparency and credibility of enterprises, and to establish relevant standards and labels. It is forbidden to circulate unqualified products in the market. Everyone’s energy is too limited to focus on every item they buy. The reason why transparency is important to customers is that customers care about the safety, reliability, truthfulness of the products they buy.

Our project is helping Beats venture into the fashion world. Still, Beats is not a transparent brand, with little information about its supply chain on its website. In view of the importance of transparency to consumers, I think the information on the production of fashion products in our project should be made public, including the source of materials, the factory of processing and the mode of transportation, etc. As an electronic brand loved by young consumers, few consumers complain about brand opacity, we should reflect on whether customers really need transparency when they purchase electronic products. The above content is only my shallow thinking, this topic is worthy of further exploration.






Carter, Craig R., and Dale S. Rogers.(2008)’A framework of sustainable supply chain management: moving toward new theory.’ International journal of physical distribution & logistics management 38(5), pp. 360-387.

LaBrecque, S. (2018). How much do consumers really care about transparency?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018].

Lafferty, B., & Goldsmith, R. E. (1999). Corporate credibility’s role in consumer attitudes and purchase intentions when a high versus a low credibility endorser is used in the ad. Journal of Business Research, 44, 109-116.

New, S. (2010) ‘Operations: The Transparent Supply Chain’, Harvard Business Review, 88(10), pp. 76–82.

Singh, J., de los Salmones Sanchez, M. M. G., & del Bosque, I. R. (2008). Understanding corporate social responsibility and product perceptions in consumer markets: A cross-cultural evaluation. Journal of Business Ethics, 80, 597-611

Tran, K. T. L. (2007). Green movement shines at L.A. textile shows. Women’s Wear Daily, 194, 12.

Webster, M., 2006. Merriam-Webster online dictionary.




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  1. Posted 18th April 2018 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your idea that government should take charge of the regulation of transparency. There may be a situation like the brand provides transparency for the consumers yet the information is not valid. Therefore, it needs third party involved to check the information. The information that the brands provide should be trustable that consumers can really benefit from transparency.

  2. Posted 27th April 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree that we should give our customers enough information about the sourcing and manufacturing for the Beats collections. People carry more about these information more than ever now. If we want to be supported with our target audience we need to take a step forward than what Beats is doing right now in regards to this.

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