If the 2010s were defined by picturesque landscapes, near-perfect Instagram-filtered interiors, and other polished portrayals of products, services and lifestyles, consider the 2020s the decade of authenticity, transparency and marketing by appealing to consumers’ values.

Authenticity is the name of the game for the foreseeable future, so much so that “authentic” was named the Merriam-Webster Word of the Year in 2023. In fact, we’ve been writing about the desire for more authenticity as it relates to marketing since 2020.

As Merriam-Webster puts it, authenticity is what “we’re thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more than ever.” According to the language information leviathan, the term authentic saw a substantial increase in search results in 2023.

Trilix has long agreed.

“We always consider the fundamental purpose for the product or service, the ‘why’ an organization does what they do,” said Brett Adams, Trilix president and chief marketing officer. “Brands that are able to meet their consumers and customers in a place where they both believe the other has their best interests at heart are generally the ones that come off as the most genuine and authentic. Authenticity can’t really be faked. You either have it or you don’t, and consumers know.”

"Authenticity can’t really be faked. You either have it or you don’t, and consumers know."

Brett Adams, Trilix president and chief marketing officer

Why is authenticity an enduring desire?

We believe the push for authenticity is in direct opposition to the picture-perfect depictions of brands and lifestyles that thrived in the first part of the 21st century. But it’s more than that.

Because the metaverse and artificial intelligence have unlocked so many new possibilities but also concerns about what is real, what is an AI hallucination, and what is copyright infringement or plagiarism, it’s no coincidence that one of the other top-searched words in 2023 was deepfake. Merriam-Webster defines the term as “an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said.”

The result of all these changes in content generation and consumption: an overwhelming 90% of consumers say authenticity is an important factor in deciding which brands they like. What’s more is that millennials and Gen Z, who represent a growing segment of consumers and professionals, prefer brands that are real and organic, not perfect and well packaged. And the idea is bigger than one product or service.

“To me, being authentic starts with the entire culture of a company and then transfers those beliefs into effective messaging. Loyalty goes up the more someone believes in and connects with the brand.”

Ron Maahs, Trilix CEO

So, authenticity, transparency and defining brand values are in, but how do we carry that message to our audience through paid, owned and earned channels? In our next blog, we’ll answer this question and explore marketing tactics to portray your brand more authentically.