Are brands and retailers defining authenticity on their own terms or consumers’?
University researchers have come up with six types of judgements consumers make when determining a product’s authenticity.
“Consumers crave authenticity. Yet marketing itself is typically considered inherently inauthentic,” professors from the University of Southern California, Bocconi University and Vrije Universitei Amsterdam wrote in a statement.
In the paper, “The Concept of Authenticity: What it Means to Consumers,” researchers said the problem is that marketers generally have come up with “numerous idiosyncratic definitions” of what authenticity means, making it a “nebulous” concept to re-conceptualize.
Leveraging data from more than 3,000 consumers across 17 different types of consumption experiences, the authors developed a holistic assessment of authenticity determined by six component judgements. The role of each component can change based on the consumption context.
The six components are:
- Accuracy: The seller being transparent and reliable in what is conveyed to consumers
- Connectedness: Consumers’ feelings of engagement and at times a sense of transformation
- Integrity: The source being seen as intrinsically motivated, while acting autonomously and consistently
- Legitimacy: Conformity in terms of adhering to norms, standards, rules or traditions
- Originality: A product or service standing out from the mainstream
- Proficiency: The display of skills, craftsmanship and/or expertise in the offering
“From this research, practitioners can also tell which of these six judgments to emphasize and when in their customer marketing and communications,” said Andrea Ordanini, a marketing professor at Bocconi University in Italy. “For example, companies selling hedonic products should see relatively large returns perception-wise from emphasizing proficiency because it matters more for hedonic products than for utilitarian products.”
A 2019 study from Stackla found that, although 92 percent of marketers believe most or all of the content they create resonates as authentic with consumers, 51 percent of consumers said less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.
In marketing, employing influencers, tapping user-generated content and using “real people” instead of models in advertising are some ways brands claim to drive authenticity. Older brands claim to be viewed as more authentic than newer ones. Other authenticity elements often cited include aligning a brand’s actions with values, being transparent and brand storytelling.
- What consumers mean when they say your products are authentic – American Marketing Association
- The Concept of Authenticity: What it Means to Consumers – Journal Of Marketing
- Bridging the Gap: Consumer & Marketing Perspectives on Content in the Digital Age – Stackla
- Related Videos – Variety
- How influencer marketing helps brands build authenticity – National Retail Federation
- Authenticity is key: How has consumer sentiment changed in 2020? – ClickZ
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice would you have for brands and retailers actively trying to convey authenticity to consumers? Which of the six components identified by the study do you think is most essential in a consumer’s determination of a product’s authenticity?