Being an authentic beauty brand matters

Why being an authentic beauty brand matters and how you can support it with the right advertising.

In the ever-evolving landscape of consumer preferences, authenticity has emerged as the cornerstone of brand trust and loyalty. Gone are the days when a good product alone could win over hearts and minds.

Today, consumers crave more—they yearn for brands that speak to their values, resonate with their beliefs, and stand for something meaningful. This shift in mindset underscores the vital importance of authenticity in branding and advertising.

For beauty brands, one compelling strategy for fostering authenticity in advertising is through the use of raw imagery. (Not RAW files, mind you ;) )

By eschewing overly polished and staged photos in favor of authentic, unfiltered snapshots of real life, brands can create a more intimate connection with their audience.

Raw imagery speaks to the soul - it tells stories of real people, real moments, and real emotions, giving its customers a feeling of being part of something genuine and meaningful.

Key Takeaways

  1. Brand's authenticity is vital in today's market, driven by consumers who expect brands to express their values and engage in social issues.
  2. Research proves that authenticity builds trust, fosters emotional connections, sets brands apart in a competitive market, and has a positive impact on consumer behavior and business success.
  3. Beauty brands can especially benefit from using raw imagery in advertising: showcasing real people and stories invites positive customer feedback, as such brands are perceived as more authentic.

How New Consumer Values Shape Brand Choices

According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2020, a significant 64% of today’s consumers are belief-driven buyers. They view brands as potential agents for positive change, wielding their purchasing power like votes to endorse those that align with their values.

This signifies a crucial shift in consumer behavior: they aren't just buying products; they're supporting what they believe in. For brands to resonate with today's discerning audiences, they must be prepared to take a stand—a genuine stand that authentically reflects their identity.

Before we define what brand authenticity is, let us take a closer look at those new customers for whom using their purchase power in meaningful ways is so important.

Millennials' skepticism and desire for deeper connection

When did the age-old recipe of crafting quality products and dazzling ad campaigns lose its magic touch? The turning point emerged with the Millennials. Born between 1981 and 1996, they have trust issues, especially toward business and institutions.

Rather than simply buying into flashy marketing, Millennials are driven by a quest for authentic connection.

Research from Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2020 highlights this shift, revealing that 83% of Millennials desire alignment between a company's values and their own. Moreover, 76% expect CEOs to take a stand on societal issues they care about and 62% actively seek out products that mirror their political and social beliefs in their messaging.

True Gen Z demands even more authentic messaging

Brand authenticity holds even greater significance for Generation Z. This demographic, comprised of individuals born between 1997 and 2012, places a profound emphasis on genuine connections and transparent interactions.

According to a recent McKinsey report, Gen Zers are not just consumers - they're agents of change. They value individual expression, avoid societal labels, and actively mobilize for causes they believe in.

Gen Z gravitates towards brands they perceive as authentic, that is brands that feature real people in their advertising and actively support social causes.

Moreover, they exhibit zero tolerance for brands perceived as discriminatory or promoting negative stereotypes. In such cases, they are swift to withdraw their support.

Brand Responsibility in a Divided World

The chaotic events of recent years have raised people's expectations of brands even higher. As highlighted in the Edelman Trust Barometer 2023, businesses are now perceived as more trustworthy than governments.

They are expected to use their influence to support shared values and bring people together.

This too underscores the role of authenticity in brand messaging and actions. As the most trusted institutions, brands must lead by example, championing important issues such as climate action, diversity, and inclusion, while also combating misinformation and promoting civil discourse.

What is authenticity

Authentic living

Authenticity, as explored by researchers Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman, is a cornerstone of psychological health. Their studies highlight how living authentically fosters self-awareness, self-regulation, and positive self-development.

Authentic individuals navigate life's challenges with greater ease, as they are attuned to their needs and emotions, which enables them to make decisions aligned with their true selves.

Authentic branding

In a similar way, authenticity is a cornerstone of contemporary marketing, as it is put in a study published in the Journal of Advertising.

The study, titled "Projecting Authenticity through Advertising: Consumer Judgments of Advertisers' Claims," conducted by Michael B. Beverland, Adam Lindgreen, and Michiel W. Vink, highlights how the meaning of authenticity in brand advertising has shifted over time.

It used to be just about proving a product was real, but now it means more.

Modern brands leverage authenticity to infuse their products with a distinct set of values, setting them apart from other brands, presented as more commercialized.

Authenticity viewed in this manner transcends mere marketing jargon - it embodies the genuine essence of a brand, rooted in its core values and purpose. It's about being real, honest, and true to oneself, much like an individual who is in tune with their innermost desires and emotions.

Brand's commitment to authenticity

Essentially, brand authenticity means that a company's external messages match its internal values, purpose, and identity. Rather than adopting a facade, authentic brands boldly showcase their true persona:

  1. They emphasize the real individuals behind their brand
  2. They maintain transparency regarding their processes and policies
  3. They aren't afraid to acknowledge their imperfections
  4. They express opinions on important political or social topics

But the key to being authentic is making sure what they say matches what they do. For instance, if a brand says they care about quality or the environment, they need to show that in how they run their business.

Brand authenticity in the beauty industry

This holds particular significance for beauty brands. As stated in another one of our articles - How to use the artificial to sell to the real? - the beauty industry revolves around human beings, their physical bodies, and their imperfect beauty.

To navigate this industry effectively, it's essential to engage with real bodies because, ultimately, they are the ones for whom you're creating.

If a brand claims its products have a positive effect on the bodies of real people, irrespective of their inherent beauty, its advertising must feature individuals who embody these assertions - real people.

Consequently, for a beauty brand, one of the most effective ways to achieve authenticity in advertising may be through the use of raw images.

Build brand authenticity with raw images

By integrating raw pictures into an advertising narrative, a brand can break down the walls of perfection and invite real beauty and a more authentic and inclusive conversation. I

t's no longer just about sharing images - it's about sharing stories that foster a community that values authenticity, inclusivity, and genuine human connection.

There are several reasons why we find such power in raw imagery:

  1. Firstly, by choosing authenticity over heavily edited photos, we advocate for a more genuine representation of life, building trust and credibility with our audience.
  2. Secondly, our use of raw imagery combats perfection fatigue in our digital reality, offering a breath of fresh air and sparking meaningful discussions around authenticity and self-acceptance.
  3. Finally, this approach promotes inclusivity by embracing a diverse spectrum of beauty, body types, ages, and lifestyles, ensuring that everyone feels represented and valued.

Your target audience wants your brand promise

Overall, integrating raw imagery into an advertising strategy aligns with a brand's commitment to authenticity, creating a more genuine and relatable brand experience for its audience.

This approach aligns closely with the expectations of today's customers, who - as we stated already - don't just expect brands to deliver products; they expect brands to deliver and keep promises and are ready to pay them for it.

Why is brand authenticity important and how it contributes to brand's success

There is clear evidence that authentic advertising significantly influences consumer behavior. Empirical research, such as the study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology titled "Moral and Social Reasons for Brand Loyalty" (2019), reveals that people are more inclined to purchase from brands that convey authentic and morally aligned messages.

This study shows that being real isn't just about doing the right thing; it's also a smart move in today's competitive market. As Simon Sinek aptly puts it, "Being genuine and honest in all your transactions blazes the trail for genuine connections."

Leveraging authenticity to positively influence business goals

Authentic advertising has a major influence on consumer behavior in different ways, causing several effects:

Building brand trust and winning loyal customers

Authentic advertising builds trust between the brand and its audience. When people perceive a brand's messaging as sincere and transparent, it fosters trust, laying the groundwork for lasting relationships and brand loyalty.

This loyalty goes beyond repeat purchases, with customers becoming vocal advocates, sharing their positive experiences with others, both offline and online, for example on social media.

Fostering emotional connection and encouraging brand love

Additionally, authenticity nurtures deeper emotional connections with consumers, leading to increased brand loyalty.

Brands that authentically align with their audience's values and present themselves truthfully are more likely to cultivate devoted followers who engage actively with the brand across different channels (including social media), expanding its reach and attracting new customers.

Extremely important distinguishing factor

In a crowded market, authenticity stands out as a distinguishing factor, setting brands apart from competitors that rely on exaggerated claims or manipulative tactics.

By embracing an authentic way of advertising, brands can capture the attention of consumers seeking deeper relationships or meaningful interactions.

Positive changes in consumer decision-making

Authentic advertising also positively influences consumer decision-making processes. Consumers are inclined to choose brands perceived as authentic, as authenticity signifies quality and reliability.

This preference guides consumers towards brands prioritizing honesty and transparency, which can significantly contribute to their business success and encourage growth.

Backed by science

All these ideas are backed by research. A study in the "Journal of Consumer Research" shows how being real affects consumer preferences and purchase intentions (Beverland, M.B., Farrelly, F.J., & Woodhatch, Z., 2007). It reveals that consumers overwhelmingly perceive authentic brands more favorably and are consequently more inclined to make purchases from them.

Brands that prioritize authenticity not only cultivate stronger connections with their consumers but also experience heightened brand loyalty, greater engagement, and a distinct advantage in the competitive marketplace.

Real beauty campaign for real connections

Crafting an authentic advertising campaign for a beauty brand demands a balance between creativity and reality. Even in the most daring concepts, the goal should remain constant: to celebrate unbiased and diverse beauty, in accordance with the brand values.

It comes easier if you work with real women and man, rather than models and actors. Showcasing individuality helps winning consumer trust and building more personal relationships.

The same goes to minimizing the use of AI and Photoshop.

This is why we recommend opting for raw, unfiltered imagery that captures the genuine beauty of our subjects. We also prioritize practical effects over CGI.

In this way we ensure that our campaigns' messaging align with your brand purpose, clearly show your brand's values, resonate with your customers on a deeper level, and distinguish you from your intense competition.



Brand Authenticity: Learn how to build it | Frontify

2020 Edelman Trust Barometer | Edelman

2023 Edelman Trust Barometer | Edelman

Projecting Authenticity Through Advertising: Consumer Judgments of Advertisers' Claims: Journal of Advertising: Vol 37, No 1 (tandfonline.com)