Authenticity is the currency of the digital age.

When Donald Trump glided to victory last year, he did so on a platform of authenticity. Voters believed he spoke his mind. At the time, this perceived honesty and openness endeared swathes of the public to him.

Scott Wilson

Closer to home, Jeremy Corbyn defied all expectations at the last general election. Again this achievement was largely attributed to his refusal to stick to a carefully prepared script. Voters felt there was a ‘real’ quality to his delivery.

Businesses and brands: take note. In an increasingly competitive retail landscape, it can be hard to see the value in seemingly intangible words like authenticity. Yet never has it been so important.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of consumers across the world say they’re more likely to buy from a brand they believe to be authentic, and to recommend it to others. In other words, authenticity is not just a measure of reputation - it carries capital, which has a direct impact on a customer’s decision to purchase. Authenticity matters to your bottom line.

So how do retailers create authentic capital? The solution is beautifully simple: deliver on promises, protect your customer’s data, stock products that use high-quality ingredients, act with integrity, and communicate honestly. These are the things consumers say build their picture of whether a brand is authentic.

Many in the grocery sector are already recognising the benefits of authenticity. Just last week, M&S was named the UK’s most authentic brand in Cohn & Wolfe’s Authentic 100, a rank compiled from the views of over 15,000 consumers. In fact, retailers stole the top three spots in the UK, with Boots and Amazon coming second and third respectively. What do these brands have in common? They are reliable, respectful and real.

Communicating authenticity may seem a daunting concept, and grasping what authenticity means for your organisation or brand may take time. Yet the value customers place on it is indisputable, and the business benefits of getting it right will be very real.

Scott Wilson is UK CEO and MD EMEA at Cohn & Wolfe