The Power of Authenticity in Marketing

The Power of Authenticity in Marketing


In a crowded online world, we look at the revival in vinyl and how this can be linked to the power of authenticity, giving weight to modern marketing campaigns.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) revealed that 4 million vinyl records were officially sold in the UK in 2017; a 27% increase on 2016 and notably the highest number of vinyl LPs sold in over a quarter of a century. And yet, the audio visual market continues to be driven undoubtedly by new technologies, the dominance of digital streaming services confirming this. Vinyl therefore represents somewhat of a U-turn on this progress in technology.

So we might ask: what can be attributed to have caused this sudden revival in vinyl?

The answer partly lies in the power of authenticity. Vinyl records are favoured by many artists as a limited edition version of their albums and singles. Vinyl is regarded as an art form in itself; the cover art, sleeve notes, production and limited edition nature helps to make vinyl feel undeniably authentic.

It is this very authenticity that consumers now yearn for in products and brands. Authenticity is synonymous with originality, legitimacy and validity. These are qualities craved by consumers in an era of fake news and dwindling consumer trust in brands. You could therefore argue; authenticity is paramount to achieving a positive relationship with customers.

The academic perspective

Ravi Dhar, a marketing professor at the Yale School of Management, conducted a study that proved people prefer products that were manufactured in a company’s original manufacturing location. But why? What does a town or village have to do with how much a given customer likes a brand?

Dhar claims this is down to a belief in contagion, defined as; ‘the notion that objects may acquire a special aura or essence from their past’. This can be linked to the reason for a resurgence in vinyl. Music lovers, young and old are desiring the originality and authenticity inherent in vinyl; the idea that vinyl represents a nostalgic trip to the past clearly excites fans.

Proof that authenticity is key can also be found in some good old common sense. If a consumer is more likely to trust what a brand says about a given product, and that product performs its function as it suggests it does in various marketing communications, the customer is more likely to buy that product again. Simple right?

Maybe not so simple to implement in the noisy digital marketing world where consumers can lose track of who and what is being communicated to them.

A successful digital example

Innovative brand Airbnb have proven that authenticity can be achieved online. In 2016, it launched the ‘Don’t go there. Live there’ campaign, encouraging people to ‘live’ in the city they were visiting or travelling through. The essence of the campaign was to use Airbnb to travel authentically, and was communicated across all digital platforms. It used social media to encourage users to create their own content through sharing their travel experiences, in turn generating customer made content with authenticity at the centre. Similarly, on Pinterest, pins read ‘Don’t pin there. Live there’. The campaign leveraged the interactivity available through digital, whilst maintaining a message that was driven by authenticity and achieved a global increase in brand awareness.


Credit: Airbnb Pinterest

What we can learn from this campaign and the revival of vinyl is that authenticity is a quality that customers will consistently crave and should at least be considered in the creation of modern marketing campaigns.