Advertising’s Newest Trend—The Truth
July 2017

Millennials demand it. Moms want it. The food industry is giving it a shot, as are beauty companies.

Authenticity. A growing trend over the past few years, it’s more than just an industry buzzword. The demand for authentic interactions with brands is here to stay.

It’s no surprise that authenticity matters to Millennials; they don’t like to be sold to. Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency and one of our partners, reports that 45% of Millennials say they enjoy ads that entertain them but don’t feel like an advertisement. Millennials can sniff out inauthenticity…and they run from it.

A 2016 report by Saatchi & Saatchi found that about 1 billion women feel marketers have an outdated, inaccurate view of motherhood and are not authentic with them. They feel brands target them in the wrong ways with the wrong messages.

Consumers are looking for brands to be real with them. As the trend continues to grow, more brands are testing out transparency and authenticity—not just as core values or PR crisis efforts—but as a way to emotionally connect with their audience to gain their trust and their loyalty.

The food industry has seen subtle transitions over the years, like restaurants posting nutrition information online or in stores. McDonald’s is using virtual reality to let customers see behind the scenes at their farms. Taco Bell invited brand fans into its test kitchen. Costa Coffee in the UK launched a campaign where their baristas wear Snapchat Spectacles to give customers a look at their process from behind the counter. More than 2,000 restaurants in China have installed see-through kitchens.

The fashion and beauty industry is also following suit. Dove continues churning out ads for its “Real Beauty” campaign, which has resonated with consumers for years. Burberry’s recent collection campaign featured company employees alongside models. Gap ditched the modeling agency and hit the streets to find diverse people to feature for their new summer “I Am Gap” campaign.

You get the idea. Consumers want authenticity. Brands are moving toward it. But why?

Authenticity matters because it connects your brand to your consumers in a real, honest, and impactful way. In “The Authenticity Handbook,” Andrew Reid says, “In a new consumer landscape driven by authenticity, the advantage will go to companies that are best able to forge lasting emotional connections with their customers.”

We know that a brand that is authentic will be more successful than one that isn’t. It’s why we always say that your message strategy has to be true to who you are, as well as relevant and experienced at all consumer touchpoints. Employees will believe in the message, and so will your consumers. And that can lead to reaching more of your best customers and more repeat business.

If you’re a B-to-B-to C business, this trend should matter to you. Consumers are attracted to brands that have a clear and true-to-themselves messaging and marketing strategy.

If you’re a B-to-B business, you should buy in too—because authenticity helps build trust. And any buyer, whether it’s a person or a business, wants to buy from someone they trust.

There are quite a few ways to establish authenticity within your brand, but here are a few steps to get you started:

  • Understand your target. Whether it’s a distributor or an end user, find out what matters to them. What do they value? What does your brand value? Wherever there’s an overlap, use that to establish a connection.
  • Engage with your audience. Even if you’re a B-to-B business, social media engagement doesn’t just apply to consumer brands anymore. Post user-generated content—let your customers tell the world what they love about your brand. That’s as authentic as it gets.
  • Be transparent. Consumers love a peek behind the curtain. It makes them feel a part of the process. Let your audience be a part of your story.

Any business can be authentic, and every business should. It’s a growing demand among consumers, so open up and get real with them. You’ll turn your happy customers into loyal brand advocates.

About Littlefield
Founded in 1980, our Top 25 North American B-to-B agency specializes in companies who sell through a strong dealer/distributor network.