CEO Media Division, France
Authenticity: The new grail of the marketer
In a context where responses from consumers are increasingly solicited and demanded, and where confidence in the media is at its lowest level, Kantar’s “Dimension 2019” study highlights the importance of authenticity in brand marketing strategies. Challenge number one: build and develop the confidence of a brand’s audience to increase efficiency.
“There are thousands of brand messages a day. But consumers are very selective today, they are communication professionals, especially young targets who can see very well if the brand is respectful and if we can trust it: if the actions and content correspond to this guarantee they give it,” explains Philipp Schmidt of Prisma Media Solutions.
Increasingly informed and aware of data use and privacy issues, consumers are pushing brands to offer them ever more qualitative experiences, starting with sincere and transparent advertising. For example, two-thirds of connected consumers (67 percent) surveyed in the “Dimension 2019” study, said it is now important to be able to clearly identify all brand-paid communications.
Transparency is essential. Not only must advertisements be easily identifiable as such, but care must also be taken to ensure that the message delivered is authentic. “The consumer deciphers. Advertising is there to create brand stories and sell, as the consumer knows very well. So you need honest advertising that tells a story of honest products,” adds Gautier Picquet of Publicis.
Giving meaning has become a watchword. The values conveyed by brands must really correspond to them, and the promises must be translated into concrete experiences for the consumer. In short, as Anna Hill from The Walt Disney Company explains, “the key is to listen [...] while remaining true to what you really believe in.”
I’ll go where you go
From PR to content marketing, influence marketing and online consumer reviews, this new edition of “Dimension” also highlights the growing importance of non-advertising techniques to communicate authentically and win consumer trust. Advertising blockers, banner blindness, a drop in click rates, and GDPR—younger generations are increasingly placing their trust in earned media, favoring the comments of their peers on the web, or blogs, videos and articles by experts.
The sources that inspire the most confidence among the 5,000 connected consumers surveyed for the study are friends and family, online reviews, websites, and newspaper and magazine articles.
“In this data-driven society, we should not forget the intangible things that PR can do. It can create credibility, authenticity and desire,” says Emily Morgan of The Red Consultancy. Public relations, as well as other techniques that fall within the scope of owned and earned media, can give authenticity to a brand message, provided that it opts for trusted media.
However, respondents do not have a particularly negative perception of advertising. Sixty-five percent of them say they appreciate it or claim to be neutral. But the context is also important: 41 percent are more likely to adhere to an advertisement when it appears on a trusted brand’s website. And 48 percent appreciate advertising more on their preferred platforms.
In short, it is by organizing communications according to the preferences of their audiences and being where they want to find them that marketers can maximize the impact of their marketing budget.
The integrated experience
Another lesson the study teaches us is that, by choosing when and where they receive messages and how these are received, consumers are playing an increasingly active role in marketing campaigns. They even have the ability to amplify or minimize a brand’s history through what they have seen, read or heard, offline and online. As a result, brands have a responsibility to ensure that their messages are consistent—and delivered through channels where they can have maximum impact. Divergent messages, disconnected from any single proposal with meaning for the consumer, are no longer appropriate.
It is up to brands and their agencies to systematically examine the combination of channels they have at their disposal in order to adopt a customer-centric approach and—ultimately—speak with a single voice. The objective must be for PR and marketing to work together to achieve more unity between channels and more impact, to evolve the role of PR towards strategic planning work, and to promote the coherence expected by consumers.
At the heart of the question of authenticity is a brand’s ability to build lasting relationships with its audience. Multichannel brand marketing strategies must focus on the long term rather than the short term, as Philippe Schmidt forcefully explains: “Trust is surely the most sensitive and complicated parameter to maintain over time. This forces us to keep the ‘flawless’ in time, not to sacrifice on the altar of short-term performance everything we have built over the long term.” *
*Quotations from the “Dimension 2019” study