When big brands feel 'small in nature'

For some big brands, keeping their "small in nature" feel while growing big has helped maintain a good rapport with natural and organic consumers.

Eric Pierce, Director of Strategy and Insights

January 13, 2015

1 Min Read
When big brands feel 'small in nature'

When does big become too big? I've heard several conversations recently about the growing sense of consumer distrust for large organizations (including companies, brands and governments). Within the context of companies and brands, the conversation instinctively gravitates toward annual sales figures as the basis for the answer.

While those numbers may be part of the answer, my conversations with consumers suggest that it's not really that simple. Many consumers in the natural and organic market have shared that some large, mainstream companies and brands have managed to maintain their trust and loyalty, despite being big companies.

These exemplar brands appear to have remained "small in nature" despite their billion-dollar-plus sales volumes. One conversation suggested Starbucks, Ben and Jerry’s, Whole Foods and Chipotle as members of this club.

What is it about these brands that has allowed them to retain their relationships with consumers?

I’d argue it is a mix of

  • Values

  • Integrity

  • Long term focus

  • Willingness to sometimes make difficult decisions that aren’t always motivated by profit

To me, and I believe many consumers, "too big" is defined by the point where:

  • One’s values begin losing their share of voice in decision making

  • Consumers begin to sense that profit is more important than integrity

  • Difficult decisions are made with less transparency

What else would you add to the list of items which define “too big?”

What large brands have retained your trust? Why?


About the Author(s)

Eric Pierce

Director of Strategy and Insights, New Hope Natural Media

Eric J. Pierce is a proven strategic marketing and market research leader with nearly 20 years of research and insights experience. In various consulting roles, Pierce has been instrumental in maximizing the value of his clients’ business and marketing investments and has built a reputation for being a great partner, problem solver and advisor.

Ever curious about the intersection of business and psychology and with a passion for natural products and the resources of New Hope Natural Media at his back Pierce is uniquely positioned to help advance the growth of the industry.

In his role as director of strategy and insights at New Hope Natural Media, Eric is responsible for providing vision and leadership for the NEXT™ brand and its mission to deliver intelligence, insights and innovation to the natural products industry.

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