Authentic Commerce: The New Consumer Driver

By Christian Vester

Let’s start with a question: what is authentic commerce?  

While there is no single definition of authentic commerce, eCommercefastlane.com describes it as a meaningful interaction between e-commerce brands and their customers. This definition, while accurate, fails to get to the heart of the matter. As I see it, authentic commerce is more than just a “meaningful interaction”; it’s the new driving force for consumers. But why is it so important?  

80% of today's consumers (Gen Ys) value authenticity

According to a 2020 analysis by Dentsu, 80% of today's consumers (Gen Ys) value authenticity, and a recent study by Salesforce has shown that the next generation (Gen Zs) demand it. In fact, almost 9 out of 10 Gen Z'ers prioritize a real connection over a purchase. When consumers are so clear about their purchasing motivations, retailers and brands take notice and reconsider their e-commerce strategies.  

Authentic commerce will become one of the primary purchasing drivers for consumer brands in this decade

For this reason, I’m making a bold prediction: Authentic commerce will become one of the primary purchasing drivers for consumer brands in this decade, and it will be spearheaded by live shopping.  

In fact, I strongly believe that authentic commerce, like live shopping, has the potential to revolutionize e-commerce and retail in general, and bring about an era of real brand experiences.  

E-commerce Must Leave Mass Media Behind  

Of course, authenticity in commerce has long been a goal among marketers and branding specialists. Based on my experience, authenticity has struggled to shine through because most retail brands have historically been associated with mass media brand awareness. In this context, the brand experience has been influenced by flashy, celebrity-filled content designed to appeal to a broad audience.  

Nowadays, technology has made it possible for even self-made productions to look like a million dollars. This has had a significant impact in the world of social media influencers, who were previously known as the champions of authentic and self-made content. In short, I believe that this branding formula has become weak and ineffective. Even personal reels or social media posts end up looking like a duplicate of something we’ve already seen. And with that, any originality and authenticity go by the wayside.  

Fortunately, e-commerce has continuously evolved and re-invented retail throughout the last three decades. And with the emergence of authentic commerce, I believe we’re on the cusp of yet another evolution, where we can go beyond the hype and leave mass media-strategies behind. This time, the focus is on consumer demand, real connections, and brand experiences. The days of mass media-strategies are coming to an end.

Genuine Brand Connections Are Live, Unfiltered and Social  

Live Shopping is the e-commerce (r)evolution that finally allows for genuine connections with customers rather than relying on formulaic brand awareness campaigns. I say this with confidence, because when we founded Sprii during the pandemic, it was clear from the start, that what initially attracted people to the live shopping-experience, was the opportunity to connect with the real people behind the product or brand.  

In essence, live shopping allows customers to virtually meet the same people they would encounter in a physical store. And with the pandemic in our rearview mirror, live shopping continues to gain popularity and value, demonstrating impressive growth compared to other retail categories. The driving force behind this trend is the authentic connections made between regular people and viewers, without relying on superstars or artificial personas.  

The most successful brand experiences will become live, unfiltered, and unscripted

So, as live shopping becomes a bigger part of the strategic retail mix and consumers demand more authenticity, I believe the most successful brand experiences will become live, unfiltered, and unscripted. It’s here that brands and consumers truly embrace the imperfect nature of live shopping. It’s this way; consumers will actually and genuinely connect with brands and retailers (or rather the people behind them) in a truly social and shared experience - warts and all.  

Christian Vester
CEO, Sprii

Christian Vester is the CEO and co-founder of Sprii, Europe's leading live shopping tech company. His background includes valuable contributions to a wide range of e-commerce brands and retailers.