Authenticity has always been a great differentiator. It has meaning across categories. It’s a human concept easily understood by the shopper when it works. More than ever though, authenticity is no longer a lever that brands can pull on occasion—rather, it is now a standing requirement mandated by customers. Yes, this prioritization of authenticity has been fueled most recently by Millennials, who rank authenticity as one of their top five most important brand attributes. But as Paula Brown at CMI Online found: shoppers’ mentalities have collectively shifted to the point where “nearly two-thirds of global consumers buy from companies they consider to be authentic.”
Authenticity is also a concept it’s easy to lose sight of. While there are many ways to convey a brand’s authenticity, here’s a refresher on the three best tried-and-true approaches:
Does your brand have a deep heritage, perfected manufacturing process and layers of quality control that make it an authority in its category? Great. Prove it. For example, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey lives in the highly competitive spirits category, where competitors are popping up overnight by the hundreds. This William Grant & Sons brand chose to rise above the imitators by touting that their whiskey has been created using the same level of passionate craftsmanship since 1829. The brand upped the ante by allowing anyone to sign up on their website for a tour of their distillery—openly encouraging those who are “well acquainted with the whiskey making process but want to investigate a little deeper.”
Showing what your brand does to make it a father of the category is an indisputable way to illustrate authenticity.
Sometimes the most effective route to establishing your brand’s authenticity is focusing on a critical attribute of the category and proving that your product is superior to another brand’s in no uncertain terms. Nowhere else is this more visible than in the high-stakes $242B heavy duty truck market, where believing one truck is a better work horse than another can cause managers to swap out entire fleets of vehicles at a time—a huge victory for the successor and a huge loss for the former incumbent. It’s only logical that the brands in this category rely upon direct comparisons more than anyone else. As seen in their TV spot centered on “what a man asks of his truck,” Dodge establishes their reputation for producing hard working trucks immediately by calling out that their Ram Heavy Duty has best-in-class towing and torque.
Any time you can legitimately show your brand’s superiority over another in areas that define the category, your authenticity is sealed.
When your brand has products that deliver as promised, you can stay away from heavy flash and sparkle to persuade shoppers of authenticity and instead use a more straightforward approach: encourage experience. Patagonia uses this method in their current messaging as seen on their website: “Put it on, leave it on. Experience the Nano-Air Jacket & Hoody.” Imagery of frosty climbers and sub-zero environments are common with winter jackets and gear, but the most compelling way to for a brand to connect with a shopper interested in functional cold weather outerwear is encouraging them go into retail to experience it, firsthand.
If your brand is the real deal, its authenticity will be validated the moment shoppers interact with it.
Matt O'Toole is an associate shopper marketing strategist in the Momentum Chicago office.