There was a time when marketing and advertising largely relied on pressuring people into purchasing a product or investing in a brand. These tactics are no longer effective. Today’s consumers are savvier than ever. They don’t want a brand that plays on their emotions or manipulates them into a purchase. They want honesty.
If there’s one thing millennials value in brands more than anything else, it’s authenticity. They want to associate with businesses that are honest and accountable. They want to be treated as people rather than solely as sales leads.
Given that millennials are currently the demographic with the most purchasing power, appealing to them is critical. Yet even as millennials are phased out – even as they replace boomers as the older generation – the trend towards consumers demanding honesty of their businesses will not change. Generation Z values authenticity just as much.
Don’t just take my word for it. Look at the numbers. The statistics and surveys below speak for themselves.
- According to research by Bonfire Marketing, 91 percent of people rate honesty about products and services as extremely important. By contrast, product utility and brand popularity rate at 61 and 39 percent, respectively.
- In its 2017 Consumer Content Report, content specialist Stackla found that 90 percent of millennial respondents stated that authenticity is the most important factor when deciding which brands they support.
- Data published by news agency CNBC shows that 67 percent of Generation Z believes that being true to one’s values is what makes a person cool.
- A 2017 study by corporate responsibility agency Cone found that 89 percent of Generation Z consumers would rather buy from a company that supports social and environmental issues.
So how can you add more authenticity to your marketing?
First, demonstrate that you understand your audience. Focus on the human experience rather than sales numbers or product features. Show people that your business isn’t just some faceless entity, but a real organization run by real people and based on admirable values and virtues.
Second, focus on making a positive difference in the world. Ask yourself what social and environmental issues you care about. What can you do to further those causes? Figure that out, and work it into your marketing messages.
Finally, talk to your audience. Interact with them in a more meaningful way than banner ads and television spots. Interact with them on social media by sharing content they’ll find interesting and valuable. Not just product calls to action, but content that entertains, informs, and delights.
In short, the key to being more authentic starts with treating your audience like people – with understanding how they think and what they care about, and shaping your marketing messages to their unique experience.
Authenticity is a critical purchase driver for modern consumers. If your brand comes off as uncaring, cold, or insincere, people are going to abandon it for a competitor that feels more trustworthy. Follow the advice laid out here, and see to it that it does not.