Authenticity has never been more critical for brands. In a multi-platform, 24/7 universe of adverts, promoted social posts, and emails, your brand is always switched on. This means you can reach people more easily than ever before, but it also means that all of your communication is in a constant process of being judged by your customers. So you had better be authentic. Because, if you’re not, the consumer will go to a brand that is.
But how do you remain authentic, when consumers are so different from one another? Imagine your customers as a big family at Christmas dinner: different generations, varied principles, contrasting stances on social issues. It’s no longer good enough for a brand to have a killer strategy for only one person around the Christmas dinner table; in order to be seen as authentic brands now need killer strategies for everyone.
Show a little love
A 2022 Brand Authenticity Report from Sitecore examines what UK customers expect from their favourite brands. The research examined consumers’ expectations around empathy and understanding, communication, representation, and experiences, and what drives their loyalty.
To be seen as authentic, brands need to be all things to all people. This widens their customer base, forges strong and trusting relationships, and drives sales.
However, while there is much that divides them, there is one thing that unites most consumers: they want to be shown a little love.
The customer experience remains at the heart of authenticity, with nearly all consumers saying that brands should try to ensure customers feel represented in their marketing and communications. Brands appear to be doing an OK job at this: just over half of respondents agree that their favourite brands have created a deeper connection with them this year through their online experience.
The generation game
To forge even stronger relationships, brands need to embrace that family Christmas. After all, messaging that appeals to Generation Z is unlikely to appeal to Millenials or, less likely still, Baby Boomers. Increasingly, this is where representation plays a key part. Consumers want to know what a brand stands for, which causes they support, and how they represent minorities and social issues.
However, these issues have different weighting across the age ranges: 96% of Generation Z respondents believe it is important for retailers to offer more minority-owned products and services, while only 62% of Baby Boomers agree. It’s a similar story with respondents wanting brands to take a moral stand on societal issues, with 91% of Generation Z desiring that, while only 67% of Baby Boomers feel the same. Just over three-quarters of Generation Z respondents said they’d pay increased prices for a product or service if it were more environmentally friendly, but that dropped to exactly half of Baby Boomers.
The takeaway from this is: ignore Baby Boomers at your peril. Brands’ marketing budgets are often poured into the more exciting younger audiences, but Baby Boomers tend to be where the money’s at. Representation and social issues still matter to them, just in a different way to Generation Z. A one-size-fits-all communications strategy would inevitably mean you’d be alienating parts of your customer base, so the messaging needs to be adaptable in order to be relatable.
The best way to be all things to all people, no matter which generational moniker they fall into? Demonstrate empathy. Use language and imagery that makes them feel represented, understand what each customer wants, and put values into action. That way, you’ve got the ingredients for the perfect Christmas dinner for the whole family.