In a world of ‘digital everything’, there is no privacy and nowhere to bury bad news. Data leaks everywhere, from the supposedly top-secret revelations of Edward Snowden to the private mobile phone accounts of celebrities. Digital cameras capture confidential conversations, brutal wars, dangerous working conditions and embarrassing political gaffes. This flood of data washes around the world at a furious pace: every second of the day sees 24,000 gigabytes of Internet traffic, 7,000 Tweets, 90,000 YouTube videos viewed, and 2.3 million emails sent. This is an insight which global brands must understand: embrace the Age of Authenticity or risk being left behind.
- Authenticity in business beats product utility and innovation, across all 12 markets surveyed: Authentic characteristics such as communicating honestly about products and services (91%) and environmental impact and sustainability measures (87%) are more important to global consumers than product utility (61%), brand appeal (60%) and popularity (39%).
- Authenticity has a positive impact on the bottom line: 63% of global consumers would buy from a company they consider to be authentic, over and above competitors. A further 59% would recommend an authentic organization to family and friends; 47% would be happy to work for them; and 23% would invest in a brand they believe to display authentic qualities. Those in fast-growing economies are twice as likely to invest in authentic brands as respondents in slower-growing countries (31% vs 15%).
- McDonald’s, Samsung and Apple are considered to be the most authentic global brands: As voted for by 12,000 respondents in an unprompted question.
- Food quality, product reliability and data security are the corporate issues, making global individuals the angriest. Three quarters of global respondents would be extremely angry if a company was found to produce food in an unsanitary way, rising to 91% in Italy and 81% in China. Meanwhile, U.S. and UK respondents are most likely to be extremely angry about companies failing to protect their personal information (80% and 79% respectively).
There is no doubt that consumers want authenticity from brands, but I would argue that it’s more important for some brands than others. I don’t need authenticity, for example, from Oreo’s or Starbucks. Just give me a great cookie and an excellent cup of coffee and I will continue to be a loyal customer. In addition, McDonald’s is really taking hits on social media and as a brand because people see them as selling products that are bad for us. In addition Apple has always been a lot less than authentic in the past selling products with known problems and releasing software that’s not ready for prime-time yet.
There is no doubt that consumers have ways of finding shit out when it comes to brands and ads, but marketers need to determine how much authenticity is essential to their marketing.