Consumers in today’s culture are savvier than they’ve ever been. Millennials know that they’re being marketed to at every turn. They also know that marketers are paying bukus of money for their attention. We’ve grown up with every little aspect of our lives more and more curated. Our Facebook feeds have algorithms with content that is specially geared toward our interests and likes. Companies have been paying boatloads for our attention since the time we were toddlers. This has resulted in us being turned off by anything that’s seemingly disingenuous.

Ad Culture has its Downsides

We’ve also seen, first hand, the negative effects that advertising culture can have on a young person’s psyche. Look at how sugary cereals are so easily sold to young children using fun, cartoon characters. This can eventually lead to a higher rate of childhood obesity and health problems later in life. Many young women are all too familiar with the pressure to look ‘perfect’ because they’re surrounded by ad campaigns that make it seem like everyone does. Recent developments in the news have made the fact that our data is being packaged up and sold by Facebook and Twitter impossible to ignore. People want to see a company that is genuine when everything else is perfectly curated.

Being Authentic

This is why Millennials seem to crave brand authenticity more than the promise of a ‘perfect life’. When Aerie by American Eagle first launched their AerieREAL campaign in 2016, Business Insider states that their sales increased 32%. That’s almost a THIRD of their sales, just by stepping away from photoshop and showing real people in their ads. There is a reason that Aerie has such a successful AerieREAL Campaign, they are showing a level of authenticity that is missing from the many other lingerie brands. Instead of telling girls what they SHOULD look like, they’re telling them that their body is great the way it is, great enough to be part of an ad campaign.

While Aerie might use real, untouched photos of a variety of body types to show their authenticity, some brands show their authenticity in other ways. Purple Mattress is a great example of a brand that is just genuine and weird as hell. They use a type of humor that’s pretty niche and they’re completely unapologetic about it. Take, for example, this little magical nugget of a video: WTF is happening here?

That almost 4-minute ad comes closer to entertainment than an ad but it’s jam-packed with information. There’s something that’s genuine about the humor in their commercials. This brand authenticity draws people in and makes them curious. While some mattress companies are still showing you shots of their storefront, Purple got a little weird and it totally worked for them. Now, they’re widely considered one of the best mattresses that you can purchase online.

Your Audience Craves Authenticity

Sometimes it takes a little risk to stand out from your competition, but that’s also what many consumers want to see. Define your brand and jump in, head first, your customers will follow. If you’re targeting the right audience, they will resonate with your special brand of weird and honest. “Fake it till you make it” doesn’t really fly anymore with consumers. People want to know that the businesses that they frequent are run by people who are just like them. Meet your customer where they are, which is probably watching cat videos and scrolling through memes.

Written by: Randi Zimmermann

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