This is an excerpt of the GDI study “Digital Corporate Publishing – Being part of tomorrow's conversation”. This study is available as a free download.

The increasing popularity of media platforms is a great challenge for all content producers who prefer top-down communication. Companies are losing their traditional prerogative of interpretation, even in domains where they have always felt safe.

A sales  floor, in-store advertising, and product packaging offer no guarantees that customers will look to the sellers for information about the product. One example of a digital alternative source of information is “Codecheck”. The Swiss app can scan barcodes to offer more information about the products. This means that users can also get information the manufacturer would prefer to keep quiet.  The app already contains 29 million products and was downloaded more than three million times. It tells consumers which ingredients or materials might be a problem and even suggests products that would be better alternatives.

Right now, it is somewhat time-consuming to scan each individual yoghurt container at the store, which is why the app has so far only found acceptance with a target group of people who would like to monitor their shopping very closely. However, as soon as augmented reality is established, it will be easy to get alternative information about the entire range of yogurts on the shelf. “Codecheck” and similar services would be of interest to a much larger group of shoppers – and a much more forceful challenge to the prerogative of interpretation of manufacturers and retailers.

Alternative information can completely undermine a traditional corporate narrative, both in terms of marketing and corporate communication. Simple marketing tools like placing the product in the hands of beautiful people might be perceived as misleading, manipulative and cynical once more information about the product and the production process become available. Images of child labour undermine the effectiveness of glossy photo ads; knowledge of the actual sugar content undermine the suggestion of health benefits in statements like “contains vitamin C!” CTA statements such as “Special!” or “Discount!” don’t work when customers can see even lower prices offered by the competition.

Find out more about the future of corporate publishing in the GDI study “Digital Corporate Publishing – Being part of tomorrow's conversation”. Download for free.