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Why Authenticity Is Now The Most Important Asset A Company Can Possess

May 4, 2022

CEO at Bazaarvoice , the leading provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions.

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It’s no secret that consumers do not hold the same level of trust in or loyalty to brands and retailers that they once did. Consumer trust is low, and customer loyalty is also up for grabs. Unlike ever before, shoppers are trying out new brands and are more open to straying from their status quo. So, how does a brand differentiate itself in this landscape?

I believe the answer is simply being as authentic as possible. After all, there’s not much you can say to consumers to get them to trust in you. But someone else can.

My company provides product review and user-generated content solutions, and I've found that consumers have spoken. They want to hear from one another more than they want to hear from the company they’re considering buying from. Thanks to social media and the rise in shoppers’ reliance on user-generated content—such as ratings, reviews and customer photos and videos—shopper-to-shopper sharing has shaped the influence economy. Business-to-consumer marketing has transformed into consumer-to-business or even consumer-to-consumer. In today’s C2C economy, brands no longer control the narrative. Consumers are in charge, and they decide how your brand and business are perceived.

We know that consumers rely on one another to make purchase decisions, and we also know that they rely on you to make the process of facilitating that exchange as authentic as possible. And not doing so has huge legal implications. The recent news of the Federal Trade Commission's enforcement action against an online retailer for blocking negative reviews on its site brings an important conversation to the forefront around trust and authenticity within e-commerce.

That trust in a company is more important to consumers than ever before and is affecting businesses’ bottom line. If a shopper doesn’t have faith in your products or your company, they are much less likely to give you a chance. Consumers are also more and more concerned with spending with their conscience, and many do their best to mostly interact with and spend on brands that are aligned with their values.

So, how do you earn and keep that trust? You must be authentic, transparent and, simply put, trustworthy. What's the best way to do that in this C2C economy? Help your customers communicate with one another because that is who other consumers truly want to hear from. These days, facilitating, encouraging and amplifying the voice of your customer is the best way to market your products and services. At the end of the day, no matter what you do, customers trust their peers more than they trust you. And by making yourself vulnerable and letting your customers speak for you, you’re being as transparent as can be.

Leveraging UGC can help you amplify those authentic customer voices, and there are a wide variety of ways to do so. Social media is the ideal place to display your customers’ photos and videos. If you’re using UGC already, it’s likely on your website. But consider putting it in places beyond the ratings and reviews section on your product page—even on your homepage, for instance. You can even take it out of the digital world and into the physical one. UGC is great for physical advertisements and marketing. Some companies even display it on product packaging.

You cannot buy trust; it has to be earned. By acting in authentic and trustworthy ways and allowing your customer base to speak on your behalf, shoppers will much more quickly come to trust you, and their dollars will follow.

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

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