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Press Release From the Journal of Marketing: What Consumers Mean When They Say Your Products Are Authentic

Matt Weingarden

Researchers from University of Southern California, Bocconi University, and Vrije Universitei Amsterdam published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that explains the six types of judgements consumers make when determining a product’s authenticity and how marketers can use this insight to deliver more authentic offerings.

The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled “The Concept of Authenticity: What it Means to Consumers” and is authored by Joseph Nunes, Andrea Ordanini, and Gaia Giambastiani.

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Consumers crave authenticity. Yet marketing itself is typically considered inherently inauthentic. Hence, firms must learn to understand, manage, and excel at rendering authenticity. The critical question is: how? Marketers who wish to deliver authentic consumption experiences would benefit from guidance regarding ways to enhance consumers’ assessments of the authenticity of their offerings. The starting point is knowing what consumers mean when they talk about authenticity, a nebulous concept.

Nunes says “When consumers talk about authentic consumption experiences, they really are referencing six types of judgements they make involving: accuracy, connectedness, integrity, legitimacy, originality, and proficiency.” Accuracy refers to the seller being transparent and reliable in what is conveyed to consumers. Connectedness describes consumers’ feelings of engagement and at times a sense of transformation. Integrity means the source is seen as intrinsically motivated, while acting autonomously and consistently. Legitimacy refers to conformity in terms of adhering to norms, standards, rules, or traditions. Originality refers to a product or service standing out from the mainstream. Finally, proficiency refers to the display of skills, craftsmanship, and/or expertise in the offering.

Knowing that judgments of accuracy, connectedness, integrity, legitimacy, originality, and proficiency are what comprise assessments of authenticity, managers can more efficiently and effectively deduce actionable strategies in terms of positioning. Ordanini continues, “From this research, practitioners can also tell which of these six judgments to emphasize and when in their customer marketing and communications. 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.” The mattress company Tuft & Needle (what is more hedonic than sleep?) illustrates this by focusing on their belief in “quality craftsmanship without the gimmicks” on their website.

Full article and author contact information available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022242921997081

About the Journal of Marketing 

The Journal of Marketing develops and disseminates knowledge about real-world marketing questions useful to scholars, educators, managers, policy makers, consumers, and other societal stakeholders around the world. Published by the American Marketing Association since its founding in 1936, JM has played a significant role in shaping the content and boundaries of the marketing discipline. Christine Moorman (T. Austin Finch, Sr. Professor of Business Administration at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University) serves as the current Editor in Chief.
https://www.ama.org/jm

About the American Marketing Association (AMA) 

As the largest chapter-based marketing association in the world, the AMA is trusted by marketing and sales professionals to help them discover what is coming next in the industry. The AMA has a community of local chapters in more than 70 cities and 350 college campuses throughout North America. The AMA is home to award-winning content, PCM® professional certification, premiere academic journals, and industry-leading training events and conferences.
https://www.ama.org

Matt Weingarden, Vice President, Communities & Journals, leads the diverse team that supports the AMA’s network of community leaders from its three broad communities and four scholarly journals.