It's on many of the lists we see as one of 2017's most important consumer trends, and it should have enormous implications for home builders.


The power and appeal of someone or something doing what he or she or it says it is going to do, performing as promised, meriting one's trust, is hard to overstate. Look at the 17-year-old Edelman Trust Barometer and see how the mighty--business, media, government, and NGOs--have fallen in the eyes and hearts of the populace.

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer, 2017 Annual Global Study
Source: Edelman Trust Barometer, 2017 Annual Global Study

This year was the first time the study found a decline in trust across all four of these institutions. In almost two-thirds of the 28 countries we surveyed, the general population did not trust the four institutions to “do what is right” — the average level of trust in all four institutions combined was below 50%.

Here's how Euromonitor International cues up the trend in its latest big picture dive into what's motivating consumer behavior these days, and what marketers can tap into as triggers to move off the sidelines and buy.

Authenticity is a standout consumer value in 2017, heralded by everyone from changemakers and celebrities to supermarkets and chefs. Authenticity has been identified as the key word helping sell items on eBay in 2016, by researchers Andrew Kehoe and Matt Gee from Birmingham City University’s School of English, when looking at the most lucrative words used by sellers.

The Euromonitor analysis, crafted by consumer trends consultant Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, notes that warts-and-all genuineness casts allure as a value proposition, particularly among younger consumers who favor the immediacy of unvarnished it-is-what-it-is reality to polished, engineered, and cosmetically presentable magical thinking. Kasriel-Alexander writes:

The draw of flawed is championed in recently published “Perfect Imperfect: The Beauty of Accident, Age and Patina”; the book, says publisher Murdoch Books, “Takes as its founding principle the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, advocating the beauty to be found in imperfection, impermanence and the authentic…without losing sight of the benefits of living in the 21st century”.

When we worked with TRI Pointe and Pardee Homes for the 2016 Builder Concept Home, called the Responsive Home, we found that many young prospective buyers expected to buy with the knowledge that they were going to continue to invest significant dollars in evolving the home into their own space. That was part of the "attainability" deal; they'd get something imperfect but a big step toward what they wanted, and in return, they'd play an active part in "finishing" the project.

Still, think about it ... authenticity.

When you do, you grasp that it's actually a highly personalized "you-know-it-when-you-see-it" construct in our minds.

When you do think about it, you realize that authenticity is a one-to-one phenomenon, not a template.

This may be how--in a world of "fake news," "post-truth," and "alternative facts"--authenticity has such massive, compelling appeal. If we trust that someone or something is genuine, we don't have to feel fear a failure, either someone else's or our own judgment, due to misrepresented reality. Where that notion crosses paths with the American Dream is where there continues to be great opportunity for builders of communities and the homes that make them up.

The issue is, your home buying customer or would-be customer is this one, and this one, and this one. Authenticity is each of his, and hers, and their construct, not yours. A simple but hard reality about most of business--it's not about me, it's about you, and value to you that makes what I'm offering a business or not.

Look at what's happening to belief, credibility, and the ability to know what's authentic, right before our eyes.

Happy selling.