When Millennials and Gen Z buy a product or service, they’re not just taking part in a transaction, they’re using their money as a vote and investing a part of themselves in the brand.

This doesn’t mean the business needs to be perfect — saving the environment and giving all their proceeds to charity, for example. Of course, it helps if you do your bit. But as you can see from many brands today, you can get away with being unsustainable and profit-driven, as long as you’re honest about it.

What young customers care about most is transparency and authenticity. They want to do business with brands that cut the crap and meet them where they’re at, listening intently to their needs and understanding the best way in which to solve them.

This can be tricky to get right, but if you do, you’ll have engaged and loyal customers for life.

Check out these three tips to attract the youth and bring real authenticity into your brand’s marketing strategy today.

Forget authenticity altogether

Authenticity is not such an attribute to strive toward but a principle to embody. When it becomes a quality or something to attain, it becomes its opposite. The only way for authenticity to really permeate your brand is to forget about it altogether as a strategy and let it be demonstrated through action.

Instead of authenticity, you may talk about “getting real” or being “plugged in” to what’s happening. Burger King took this to the extreme when they embraced the fact that more of their restaurants have burned down than any other fast-food chain, creating an ad that displayed actual images of their locations burning alongside their long-time slogan ‘Flame-grilled since 1954.’

Patagonia got real too with its daring marketing campaign to tell its customers not to buy its clothes. The company understand that its customers care so deeply about suitability and ethically produced goods that they wouldn’t be deterred by an ad that condemned the casual consumption of clothes, and instead, their loyalty would only become stronger.

Take down the barriers

Brands that do well today don’t just plant themselves into the social conversation, they create it. To do this takes a willingness to expose your offering to the wide and critical environment of the internet and media, and risk being called out or attacked.

As it’s the nature of their business, the big social media platforms haven’t been able to avoid this exposure; and as such, are testament to the loyalty and success that can come from growing and learning in the public eye.

The fact is, if you have a good product or service, you’ll never need to actively sell it — just stand it up and watch it run. Rather than going for the hard sell, let everyday people be your customers and creators so that you can grow in the most authentic and real way possible. Of course, there’ll be hiccups along the way, but even some of the biggest brands that have put themselves out there have made some of the worst mistakes marketing in history and came through them alive — if not even better off.

Find real people, not real fakes

There’s an emerging group of social media influencers and brand ambassadors that have cleverly devised how to make a quick buck through selling authenticity. By posting photos and videos on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, they promote products that “they wouldn’t if they didn’t use”, and consequently entice hoards of followers to Like, share, and make purchases.

There’s a risk of this strategy becoming so ubiquitous that people stop believing the words of social stars and see it as just another marketing scam. However, if you do find the right people who actually use your product and you do it right, there’s no end to their power for increasing engagement and sales for your brand.

One brand that arguably does this better than any other is Airbnb. The company recognised that its service naturally generates visual and social content, and through its Instagram, it began highlighting some of its greatest listings around the world. No pushy tactics or false relationships, just genuine experiences turned into more social interactions.