We used to say quality and value were two keys to success. But the value of quality alone has come and gone. Quality backed by transparency is the new requirement. Trendy companies like Everlane, BeautyCounter, and Allbirds are all leading the charge by demonstrating maximum transparency to their consumers. And there’s a lot we can learn from them.

Everlane is a clothing retailer that sells their own brand of products, primarily online with two retail store fronts (SF and NYC). When you buy an Everlane shirt, not only can you see exactly what high quality materials it’s made of, you can see how much it actually cost them to make the shirt and which ethical factory produced the materials. If you go on their Instagram, you can see pictures / videos of their factory workers. If you buy a pair of jeans, you’ll be able to see exactly where your denim came from, which factory produced the button (vs. the denim), how much they’re selling the jeans for compared to the cost of materials. No secrets. Radical transparency is their claim to fame.

Beautycounter, a US skin care and cosmetics brand, claims their mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone. They are selling consumers two things: confidence and trust. On their website, they say “Trying to remember all the harmful ingredients out there isn’t easy…” They frequently remind consumers that there are 1,500 questionable chemicals approved by the FDA for use in skincare / cosmetics, and Beautycounter promises that their products are free from the whole list…all 1,500.  “Transparency is central to everything we do.”

Allbirds is a direct-to-consumer startup company that designs environmentally friendly footwear. They say their shoes are inspired by nature: “Mother Nature Made Us Do it”. Rather than using cheaper, synthetic alternatives, this certified B-corporation believes it’s time to change things up and look to nature for these materials. When you purchase a pair of Allbirds, you’ll receive an email with a link to see which tree your shoes came from. Their designs include no flashly logos or meaningless details. Simplicity is the core of what they do.

These trend-setting companies are paving the way for the future of private brand. Consumers want to believe in a brand, so store brands need to deliver by providing quality backed by honesty. They don’t just want to know that the product works well, tastes good, or is valuable for the cost. They want to believe in the product – they want to know that the product was ethically produced, they want to see which farm the ingredients came from, and what the relationship with that farmer is like. What factory was it produced in? How much are those factory workers paid?

At Natural Products Expo West, Organic Valley featured a large screen at their booth where those walking the show could Facetime with one of the Organic Valley farmers and ask any questions they wanted. An excellent example of transparency.