Friday, September 11, 2015

Is connecting with the people who make the products you buy important to you?

If you're a Gen X mom buying baby products from The Honest Company, then you probably know who Jessica Alba is, and what you know about her is important to you and part of the reason that you buy her products.

But what about the other products and services that you buy?  Do you know who the team is behind those brands?  And do you want to?

According to, one way to engage Millennials is to "introduce your team."  They advocate use of an interactive "About Us" page with dedicated bios, colorful photos, blurbs and fun facts about employees.  They even go so far as to suggest the inclusion of employee social media handles for users to connect directly with them.

What do you think?  Do you want to know your team?  How well?  Does it vary based on brand?  And does this make sense from a company perspective?

Johnson, B. (2015, September 4)  How to Engage And Educate Millennials On Your Brand.  Retrieved September 10, 2015, from


  1. As part of Gen. Y, I do believe that sometimes, depending on the products I am purchasing, knowing the team behind a brand is the reason why I purchase the particular brand. This is especially for fashion or beauty brands/products.
    When a brand introduces their "team" and makes a big production about their brand and the benefits that come with purchasing it, it makes me want to buy the product even more. Essentially, what I am buying is the "lifestyle" that comes from the product/service. When it comes to purchasing things like makeup, I buy from the brand Chanel because I know who the team is and what type of lifestyle comes with it. As millennials, I believe we want a certain "lifestyle" that comes with the things we purchase. I do want to know the team behind the products/services because I want to know that what I am purchasing is a well-known product and is often endorsed by famous celebrities.
    I do believe this makes sense from a company perspective because companies need a way to connect with their audiences, especially millennial audiences. They have a very large influence on today's brands and styles. There's no better way to show interest in your audience then to really connect with them on a personal level and show them who's doing what behind your amazing product. Gen. Ys want to be in the now and they want to know every detail about what's trendy and what's good. This is the way companies should attract consumers for their products.

  2. Although I’m not part of Gen Y, knowing who is behind the team is somewhat important for me. However, what’s more important to me are the company’s story, values, and philosophy. I not only want to buy products that deliver what they promise, but I want to be mindful how I use my dollars to support a company. I’ve come to the realization that a lot of companies are only focused on the bottom line and will compromise the quality for profits. I gravitate towards brands that focus on transparency and integrity – not just profit.

    Even though Millenials are highly tech savvy, I found it very interesting that they want human connections. Perhaps, knowing the team is a way to connect or “see themselves.” Or maybe it’s because they are used to having constant feedback/attention. As I mentioned, I do want to know the team, but nothing too personal (e.g., religious and political views). I guess I’m interested in making some kind of human connection since we live in a world where so much is automated. Even if the brand is well-known or not, I want to know from the companies that the consumers are their number one priority and they are responsible in their business practices. It doesn’t matter which brand I’m using, I want some kind of connection with the company.

    For example, Pangea Organics is a brand that I follow because I love the company’s story as well as their philosophy. The owner, Joshua Onysko, a high school drop-out, created a skincare company based on the belief that together, we can create a new, more sustainable future. Funnily, I don’t use the products, but I follow the brand on social media and will give support/promote however I can. Whether I use a certain brand or not, I believe in promoting companies who are doing the “right thing.”

    From a company’s perspective, it does make sense to give insight into the team because it will result in customer loyalty. I like to compare it to making friends; it’s a two-way streak. You have to be willing to share things about yourself in order for others to know you and to build a rapport and bond. Quid pro quo!

  3. I am a Gen X woman, but not a mom, yet I can understand why it is important for Gen X to know who they are buying from. Consumers from Gen X may count on reality, honesty and clarity to create a loyalty to a product or company. Knowing the reasons and background of a product can have a major influence on this. Me personally, I do not have too much interest on knowing the team behind a company. My loyalty to a product or company is based on how well the product works. It would possibly spark my interest in a team if their team consisted of veterans, homeless, and or people with disabilities. A company that is giving back to its community and its country and that is hiring without discrimination, are traits that would lead me towards reading about its team rather than just getting to the content of the product.
    The only time I would say a team’s bio or background would be important to me would be in searching for a medical professional, not a brand. From a brand’s or company perspective I think it makes sense to expose its potential consumers to their employees. In such a competitive world of brands and products I think trying to give as much access as you can to consumers, including its employees, can possibly set a brand apart from another and create loyalty based on that access. This accessibility makes the consumer feel more personal about the encounter with the brand.

  4. It is important for me to connect to the people who make the products that I buy. By connecting to those people, I develop a sense of trust, and I may even royal to the company if I share the same value with them. Take Apple as an example. In my opinion, Apple is a company that aims to make great products that can really change people’s lives. But my impression of Apple being a company that devotes to benefit people comes from its founder—Steve Jobs. Everyone knows Steve Jobs and his story. For many people, Steve Jobs is the image of Apple. I feel that I share the same value as Steve Jobs and Apple, and therefore I trust Apple and its products. There are many examples like Apple to connect its founders with customers to promote their brand image, such as Toms and many Chinese Tech companies. They build the connection between the products and the people who make the products in the customers’ heads.

    I don’t know how to tell the line between “appropriate connection” and “too much connection”, but I have an example to help define the line. I am a royal customer of Lush, a handmade cosmetic company, not only because of their great products, but also because the trust that I have developed over my shopping experiences in their stores. Every time I enter into their store, they have happy assistants to help me to make choices. They would tell me what is best for me based on their personal experiences with the product. What impresses me is that they have small sticker on every container bottom to inform me who made this product. For me, those connection is enough, and I do not want them to call me or email me for my feedback. Neither do I want a long list of information about how one employee makes the mask I am buying because I will never read it.

  5. I am a millennial and I must say that in truth, I never bothered to look up the team behind the companies of products I buy. I never saw companies as teams of people, but more of a mixture of their marketing campaigns, customer testimonials, and the faces of their CEOs. After all, it is not individual decisions that the team made, but all of their collective decisions that result in the end product. But from a development standpoint, having the team member's social media accessible to the customers is good in hearing direct feedback and critiques about their product. However, the majority of times I have had to contact a company was because of a problem, and they usually have customer service teams for that anyways, So the only time I would contact the team would be if I were a loyal follower and want to have a voice in future decisions of product development.

    With that being said, I would say no, in most cases I will not seek to know the team. As I type this, I am reminded of the Jared Fogle. After hearing about his actions, I do not want to ever buy a subway sandwich again. In this case, knowing the "team" has led me to make a decision not to consume their product. I can conclude that I want to know the team only if the team is engaged in wrongdoing. For the rest, no news is good news.

  6. As a member of Gen X I'm a bit cynical when it comes to celebrities hawking a product. I tend to care more about the product's attributes and reliability than who endorses it. I want to know about the benefits of buying a product or service. I never really think about the team behind the brand. I buy a brand because I'm familiar with it and have found it to suit my needs. Any information other than what the brand offers me is unnecessary. The only personal touch I need is if and when I require customer service.
    Millennials are the largest segment of the population so it makes sense to try and cater to their needs. I see no issue with a company trying to engage them by "introducing the team". If that type of personal touch helps create brand loyalty then it would be foolish not to do it.

    -George M Tsevdos

  7. It depends on the brand or the product – it’s not that important for me to know the brand of products I use daily, such as household goods. Although for things that goes into my body (organic/natural food – Tyson chicken), cosmetics (no animal testing – MAC) clothing (socially responsible – Tom’s) I want to know the brand’s story behind the product. I don’t care to know stories about the team as I don’t think a brand’s story or how well it works depends upon the stories/values of the individuals of the team. The team consists mostly of executives who are more concern about the bottom line because at the end of the day, these top executives are all businessmen/women. I don’t think that their values reflect that of the brands they represent.

    That being said, it won’t hurt the brand to make the information or bio of their team available on the website for those who care to a have that sort of connection with the brand. For me the story of the brand is much more important than knowing the background of the team.

    The only time I would care about the team’s background is for services I use, for example hospitals, legal services, schools etc. Their team’s background (experience, education, etc.) would have more impact on whether or not they are a good company worth my money.

  8. I have recently been introduced to the titles Gen Y and Gen X, and have found that while I am not a part of Gen X, I do find some similarities between the two. It is definitely important to understand the product you are consuming as well as trusting the team behind that product. In my opinion, knowing the team, provides a sense of trust which Ok’s the purchase.

    The importance of knowing the team can also vary between products. For example, with your cellphone, food and other “essential” things to your life, you want to feel certain or secure that you can obtain assistance from that team at any time.

    On the other hand with things like paper, you don’t really care to know who was behind the process of the product. The idea of knowing the team is a secure feeling that you are number one priority to that company if needed. Creating a team was clearly one of the greatest approaches for a company because not only will they gain the consumers purchases they also gain the consumers trust with future purchases.

  9. It does depend on the product. If I were to purchase a clothing item that is produced by a well known company then I probably would not go to the "About me" section and learn about the creators (such as an Express or Macy's). However, if I were to buy an item that was handmade, then I would be interested in reading about the creator and the company. I would be interested in reading about the person/people who thought of the idea and how long it took for their company to grow.

    Certain companies can benefit from this strategy. Lush, a cosmetic company known to creating fresh and vegetarian products always attach a sticker with the person's face to show who made the product by hand. Even though I don't look up that individual's biography or have the need to reach out the person, it is nice to see a visual of whoever created the product. I believe that this strategy benefits the creators and the consumer and allows for a connection to occur.

    There are certain successful companies that I would read up on (such as any food retail companies like Starbucks or Chipotle); it is fascinating for me to see how the creators started their businesses and how they grew their brand on an international level. Also, it is interesting to learn about their backgrounds, education, and experiences that of which have led them to this point in their lives.

    -Sweta P.

  10. I am not part of Gen X, but I think it depends on the products people are buying. One thing that I always check while buying anything is where it was manufactured. Sometimes the quality of certain products depend on that. It is very less likely that I would look up certain brands to see if they are sustainable or not, but when I read any negative news about companies not treating their employees fairly or doing unethical activities, I would refrain buying from them. If a certain company markets that they are supporting local farmers or having a positive impact on their communities in some way, I would be interested in buying from them. It really depends how the companies are highlighting their good deeds and hiding their short comings. Some companies use this technique and highlight their competitor's short comings so people would not buy their competitor's products. A lot times people would prefer not to buy products of certain companies, but would end up buying from them because of convenience and having no other options.

  11. If there are people that I admire, like, follow on social media, work for a company that I love etc., and they sell things, I would definitely want to know that and buy their products. In my opinion, a brand with a story and a lifestyle around it is more attractive to know more about, e.g. following the team behind it, than a company that doesn't have a lifestyle around it and that is very impersonal from the beginning.

    If the brand starts around a person, I think it's easier for that person to then sell different products. However, a brand that is first and primarily known because of it's' products, and not necessarily the people/story behind it will probably find it more difficult to start promoting the team behind it all.
    I agree with what Claudine said, and that a company's story, core values, future goals, philosphy etc. are more important factors for me when I choose products or brands.

    I think the whole phenomena of marketing yourself as a person is very interesting though, and can be very effective if done right. However, it's also hard because I think it's essential that you promote yourself as an interesting, powerful, and cool person, but at the same time is a little humble and nice. You have to get your customers/followers a personal connection, but not reveal too many private insights. It's all about a balance that I believe is hard to find.

    I don't think you should promote the team behind your products or services unless it will help your business a lot. People won't care unless they can get something extra (e.g. more inspiration, tips, and so on) if they get to know the team behind the brand. I think that a business that plans to do this should ask itself if it will really make sense to market the brand's team with photos, social media accounts etc. Do you see profitable connections between customers, staff, products, and brand image? For example, I think that it can make sense for a company in the retail industry to promote their team members because they can easily be brand ambassadors (showing the apparel on their social media accounts, wearing them at work or during their free time, etc.) and hence helping the brand to market itself. However, I think it's harder for a company selling vacuum cleaners to promote its team. If they want to, I believe they have to come up with some funny characters, or some sort of cool/interesting/funny story in order for their customers to want to get to know them.

    I believe this topic is related to last week's blog post a little, and I think there is a connection between a company's social media and team marketing. I think that if it makes sense for a company to have social media accounts, e.g. an Instagram account, it also makes sense for them in most cases to promote their team members.

  12. For some companies knowing the team behind the company is something that I am interest in. I would want to know the team behind the brands that appeal to my interests like a fashion company or an awesome non-profit company. I like to know the team behind these kinds of companies because they are things that interest me, and therefore I assume that the people who work for these companies must be like me in the fact that we share that particular common interest. I think that the extent to which I want to get to know the team of a company would be reading an “about us” page and following them on social media to keep up with what they are working on. I don’t need to know every personal detail of their lives, but getting a glimpse into the things they are working on for the company is interesting. For other companies that do not necessarily pertain to my interests, I am less interest in getting to know the team. For example, I am not super interested in getting to know the team of my paper towel brand or cable company. Providing information on team members of a company does make sense from a company perspective because it creates a more personal connection to the brand. If you like what you hear and see from a person who works for a company, you have a more positive opinion about that company and are likely to purchase from them.

    Dori G.

  13. Personally, my connection with the people behind the products is only important regarding services products and not with consumer goods. When it come to purchasing a television, I will chose the TV with the best price, quality, and most appropriate size for the wall. It does not matter who makes it as long as my quality and standards are met.

    With services such as haircuts, or manicures, the connection with the people who deliver the product or service is very important to me. For instance, I am willing to avoid saving money and continue to visit the same hair stylist because I am only comfortable with her performing the service. Another example is the dentist, who I am willing to pay extra because of the connection and trust I have developed.
    - Mikella

  14. I wanted to elaborate on this subject with regards to the increased emphasis on the connection between a brand and its consumers. Technology and enhanced means of instant communication has encouraged consumers to inquire more information from brands. Brands are now expected to constantly provide information to consumers, and keep them updated on every occurrence or event. Purchasing products is an emotional experience for many. The consumer wants to see that the brand they purchase their product from is an aspired experience. Additionally, consumers wants to feel recognized and a part of the brand at any given moment. Consequently brands are using this opportunity to convey information as a chance to tap into the consumer’s emotions, as these emotions are being proven to drive purchases more than ever before. As discussed in class, companies are now investing record amounts of money on understanding customers in effort to understand their emotions- the key force behind sales. While I do believe that the actual product’s quality and price is of primary concern, it should not negate the importance of connecting to the consumer.