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The Concept of Authenticity: What it Means to Consumers

The Concept of Authenticity: What it Means to Consumers

JM Insights in the Classroom

Teaching Insight:

A combination of six distinct judgments jointly determines whether consumers consider a consumption experience more or less authentic. Is the product or service original? Is it legitimate? Is what the firm is telling me accurate? Do they have integrity? Are the firm and its personnel proficient? And, do I feel connected to the source? These judgments are not interchangeable, yet the role each plays can change based on the context.

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Related Marketing Courses: ​
Marketing Strategy

Full Citation: ​
Nunes, Joseph C., Andrea Ordanini, Gaia Giambastiani (2021), “The Concept of Authenticity: What it Means to Consumers,” Journal of Marketing.

Article Abstract
The literature is filled with numerous idiosyncratic definitions of what it means for consumption to be authentic. The authors address the resulting conceptual ambiguity by re-conceptualizing authenticity, defining it as a holistic consumer assessment determined by six component judgements (accuracy, connectedness, integrity, legitimacy, originality, and proficiency) whereby the role of each component can change based on the consumption context. This definition emerges from a two-stage, multi-method concept reconstruction process leveraging data from more than 3,000 consumers across no less than 17 different types of consumption experiences. In stage one, they take a qualitative approach employing both in-depth interviews and surveys (one conducted on a nationally representative sample) to identify authenticity’s six constituent components. The final components are based on themes emerging from consumer data that were integrated and reconciled with existing definitions in the literature. In stage two, quantitative analyses empirically estimate the six components and support the composite formative nature of the construct. While the authors document how certain components contribute to assessments of authenticity differently across contexts, they also show authenticity has consumer-relevant downstream consequences while being conceptually distinct from consumer attitudes. Their findings offer practitioners direction regarding what to emphasize in order to convey authenticity to consumers

Special thanks to Holly Howe (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University) and Demi Oba (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University), for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program. 

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