Millennials are nobody’s fools. If you say your cheesesteak is grass-fed and your fries are hand-cut from local potatoes, be prepared to back it up. And it’s not just Generation Y who is watching you—consumers from every generation are savvier—and more skeptical—about marketing claims.
“Today’s buyers are very familiar with communication, media and digital technologies—meaning they can sniff out fakery from a mile away,” according to a recent post on a PR and marketing site by Doug Austin, SVP of Growth & Innovation at the Marlin Network.
The importance of being seen as authentic and talking to customers in a real voice is evident in pretty much every industry doing commerce these days: from blue jeans to airlines to agriculture.
Some industries struggle with catching onto the idea of authenticity, including, according to the post, the food and beverage industry. When labels and menus include catch-phrases and buzz words like “natural” or “cage-free” or “organic,” without a clear meaning attached, consumers become disenchanted, fast.
When you see your foodservice operation as a brand, especially one that markets to Millennials, you’ll find opportunities to craft your message in an authentic way. The post cites three tenets to “beef up your authenticity.”
The first is honesty. “Customers today want to know when a company creates something, finds something or even makes a mistake,” according to the post. What is the carbon footprint of the beef you are buying? Where did your vegetables come from? Does the company who provides your hummus treat their employees well? These are all questions that your customers may have in mind. Speaking transparently and exuding integrity are the other two tenets that naturally grow from honesty.
How do you craft your message? Start online. Customers are there, and they may be talking about you already. Make sure it’s a good conversation by being responsive—communicate in real time and let your customers know you are listening. This can lead to getting new ideas from customers, and even creating advocates for your brand. Read more about authenticity through the lens of marketing.