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Be Real, or Be Gone
Alejandra Romero - 28 September 2023 - 5 min read
Why Authenticity Matters More Than Ever for Brands
We've all been there - scrolling through Instagram, mindlessly swiping past one picture-perfect image after another, looking for something to capture our attention. Nothing seems to do the trick, and you are now starting to feel overwhelmed and disconnected.
The quest for authenticity becomes even more crucial in this digital landscape. We crave a break from the polished façades and long for something real; authenticity has emerged as a powerful force that brands can no longer ignore. Platforms like TikTok or BeReal have gained popularity for their refreshing, unfiltered, and real-life content. Despite the presence of brand advertisements, users continue to share genuine experiences, captivating the attention of both consumers and brands alike.
This growing trend of authenticity has not gone unnoticed. Brands have recognised its immense potential for increasing engagement and awareness. What's even more fascinating is that this shift towards authenticity is now permeating other social media platforms like LinkedIn. Business leaders are jumping on the bandwagon, realising the value of sharing more genuine content with their audiences.
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Why is authenticity so crucial, especially when it comes to connecting with Gen Z?
Well, this generation has grown up amidst a sea of information overload. They've witnessed brands attempting to project perfect images, only to be exposed as disingenuous. As a result, Gen Z has become exceedingly sceptical and hungers for authenticity like never before.
For brands, this means that if they want to establish meaningful connections with Gen Z, authenticity is no longer optional—it's essential. They must be transparent about their values, practices, and products. They need to embody authenticity at their core and genuinely connect with their audience.
So, what does authenticity mean for brands? It means being transparent about your values, beliefs, and commitments. It means staying consistent in your messaging and aligning your actions with your words. It means using real people in your marketing efforts and letting them tell their own stories.
But authenticity is not just a marketing strategy; it's a mindset.
It's about being real and genuine in every interaction. It's about truly listening and being open to feedback. Gen Z, in particular, is not afraid to voice their opinions, and as brands, we need to be receptive. We need to engage in open conversations with our audience and genuinely consider their feedback. It's through this dialogue that we can form stronger connections and foster loyalty.
To better understand our audiences, we can turn to the insights provided by the WGSN Consumers 2025 report. It highlights four key consumer profiles to watch out for: The New Nihilists, who crave honesty, authenticity, and humour without feeling like they're being sold to. The Reductionists, seek human connections and value alignment with the brands they support. The Time Keepers, prioritise products and services that add value to their lives, saving them time and money. And finally, The Pioneers, who are drawn to innovative and disruptive brands. To connect with these different consumer profiles by 2025, brands must be ready to adapt their strategies accordingly.
But what does authenticity look like in the context of branding? Here are a few ideas:
- Be transparent about your values. What do you stand for? What are your beliefs? What are your commitments? Let Gen Z know what you're about, and why you care about the things you do.
- Be consistent in your messaging. Don't say one thing and then do another. Be clear and consistent about your values, your practices, and your products.
- Use real people in your marketing. Use real people in your marketing, and let them tell their own stories.
- Be open to feedback. Gen Z is not afraid to speak their minds. Be open to feedback, and be willing to learn from your mistakes, keep an open conversation with your audience.
To effectively reach Gen Z, social media is where you need to be. They spend a significant amount of time online, particularly on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. These platforms thrive on short-form videos, making creativity and authenticity essential for brands to stand out.
Collaborating with influencers who genuinely love your brand and resonate with your target audience's lifestyle can be a powerful way to bridge the gap. But remember, authenticity should always be the foundation of these partnerships. Choose influencers who are relatable, trustworthy, and create content that feels truly authentic. It's through these collaborations that you can make a meaningful impact on your audience.
Building an authentic brand takes time and effort. It requires being transparent, consistent, and open to feedback. But the payoff is immense. Authenticity builds trust, and trust leads to loyalty. In a world where authenticity is increasingly rare, brands that are genuine will stand out from the crowd.