The importance of authentic marketing in 2021

By Pelican MD Michael Bennett

4 minute read

Key takeaways

  • Consumers are increasingly skeptical about advertisements, so it’s important companies present themselves as authentic.
  • Companies can improve their authenticity through empathetic actions, supporting meaningful causes and being more transparent about their operations.
  • When using influencers, ensure there is a genuine and natural fit.

2021 will be defined by authentic and genuine marketing as consumers become more market savvy and less receptive to advertisements. With consumers also being wary of how big companies manage their personal data and the growing anxiety consumers are feeling over their personal finances, it is important for brands to regain consumer trust. All this makes ‘authenticity’ more important than ever.

This means being consistent with core values, making people the priority, and being transparent about operations and processes.

Actions speak louder than words

Today, consumers make purchasing decisions based on more than price and quality; they want to know the brands they use have a purpose. Showing support for a cause provides this extra value and increases a company’s authenticity. Brands that reflect the current mood of society will appear more authentic to consumers as they engage with real concerns that affect their audience

The pandemic provided an opportunity for businesses to show support for a cause that affected everyone and consumers have responded well to companies that have supported people during the coronavirus crisis. Various food retailers pledged donations to charity, including Nestle, which pledged £1 million to CommunityShop and Food Cloud to help support vulnerable families during the lockdown.

But brands must back up their actions with evidence if they want to be perceived as truly authentic by consumers. Whilst donations show support for a cause, actions such as offering products or services to good causes will have a more significant impact on consumers. When there was a shortage of hand sanitiser, BrewDog produced and donated it to charity and food companies such as Pret-a-Manger, Leon and Bella Italia provided unique services for key workers. Regardless of the kind of support, consumers prefer action to statements.

Rethinking partnerships

The need for consumers to perceive influencers as authentic and genuine is becoming more prevalent. With consumers paying less attention to sponsored influencer posts and the backlash against reality TV influencers in Dubai, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to choose influencers who engage and relate to their audience.

Andrea Rosenbaum, part of the Influencer and Public Relations department at Dell, states, ‘Rather than just ads people want real life, real people and real advice and suggestions.’

It’s not solely a case of finding an authentic influencer however; companies need to find the right influencer. The influencer and the company should be a natural fit based on shared values or the influencer’s use of the product. Otherwise, consumers will fail to see a genuine connection, and 62% of people believe it is unethical for influencers to promote products they do not use.

When Carlsberg announced that they were becoming more sustainable, using more recyclable packaging and reducing its carbon emissions, it partnered with Jim Chapman, a British influencer who shares similar sustainability values that he promotes to his audience.

Similarly, Dunkin’ Donuts’ partnership with Charli D’Amelio was successful due to the Tik Tok Stars already established love for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Her regular order is now a staple item on the Dunkin’ Donuts menu. Influencers have found that this type of honest and authentic content that reflected their beliefs and product use was more engaging.

Companies don’t need to create specific content around influencers in order to have an authentic partnership. Take clothes company Retro and Groovy for example, when they found out YouTuber Emma Chamberlain ordered and wore clothes from them, they gave Emma a discount code her fans could use that she would mention during her normal videos. This allowed Retro and Groovy to use Emma Chamberlain as an influencer in a natural way that did not infringe on the content her fans watched her for.

Due to the relationship between the company and the influencer increasing in authenticity over time, it is recommended that companies seek to build long-lasting relationships with suitable influencers in order to fully reap the benefits authentic influencers provide.

The demand for transparency

It has been identified that 41% of consumers do not trust product information from brands and that six in 10 consumers are looking for companies to be more transparent. Consumers expect brands to provide them with extra evidence and information about the products they buy. The most pertinent information consumers seek when it comes to brand transparency are a list and description of ingredients, food certificates, and details about sourcing.

Brands can utilise other methods than physical packaging to communicate this information. For example, Hershey’s includes QR codes on packaging that provides a detailed list of ingredients when scanned, while McDonald’s, as part of its ‘Our Food, Your Questions’ campaign, provides information about ingredients and sourcing details on its website. Brands that provide consumers with accessible information will improve their transparency and take a huge step in gaining consumer trust and appearing more authentic.

Pelican Communications is a specialist in the environment & CSRfoodpackaging & logistics and trade association sectors and offers a range of services such as strategydesigncontent creationpublic relations and people developmentContact us for marketing and communications expertise.


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