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Brand Authenticity: Towards a Deeper Understanding of Its Conceptualization and Measurement

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Abstract

In times of increasing uncertainty, authenticity is an essential human aspiration, making it a key issue in contemporary marketing and a major factor for brand success. By conducting a literature review and several studies with different consumers and brands, we develop a scale for measuring the strength of consumers’ perceived brand authenticity, where authenticity is analyzed as consisting of four dimensions identified as continuity, originality, reliability, and naturalness. We also demonstrate the discriminant validity of brand authenticity with regard to related marketing constructs such as brand involvement, brand image, and brand satisfaction. Finally, we conclude our paper by discussing the implications for marketing practice and by offering stimuli for further research.
567
Advances in Consumer Research
Volume 40, ©2012
Brand Authenticity:
Towards a Deeper Understanding of Its Conceptualization and Measurement
Manfred Bruhn, University of Basel, Switzerland
Verena Schoenmüller, University of Basel, Switzerland
Daniela Schäfer, University of Basel, Switzerland
Daniel Heinrich, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany
ABSTRACT
In times of increasing uncertainty, authenticity is an essential
human aspiration, making it a key issue in contemporary market-
ing and a major factor for brand success. By conducting a literature
review and several studies with different consumers and brands, we
develop a scale for measuring the strength of consumers’ perceived
brand authenticity, where authenticity is analyzed as consisting of
four dimensions identied as continuity, originality, reliability, and
naturalness. We also demonstrate the discriminant validity of brand
authenticity with regard to related marketing constructs such as
brand involvement, brand image, and brand satisfaction. Finally,
we conclude our paper by discussing the implications for marketing
practice and by offering stimuli for further research.
INTRODUCTION
Nowadays, our society is increasingly characterized by a grow-
ing feeling of uncertainty due to events such as the global nancial
crisis, increasing political instability, or climate change. People try
to relieve this uncertainty by seeking authenticity in their daily lives,
even in the products they consume and the brands they own. Thus,
authenticity is as an essential human aspiration, making it “one of
the cornerstones of contemporary marketing” (Brown, Kozinets, and
Sherry 2003, 21). Moreover authenticity is also dened as one of the
key values of brand image (Ballantyne, Warren, and Nobbs 2006)
and a major success factor for brands in being a characteristic of
brand identity (Beverland 2005; Kapferer 2004).
However, academic research on brand authenticity is still in its
infancy. The few studies that do exist are predominantly of a general
nature, either in establishing theoretical foundations or analyzing
manifestations of authenticity in the marketplace: “Yet, consumer
research has not given considerable focused attention to authentic-
ity” (Grayson and Martinec 2004, 296). Past research (Ballantyne et
al. 2006; Beverland 2006; Brown et al. 2003; Grayson and Martinec
2004; Groves 2001) presents a differentiated understanding of au-
thenticity in general, and of brand authenticity in particular. This is
often enhanced by the studies’ focus on a specic product category
such as wine (Beverland 2006), tourist attractions (Grayson and Mar-
tinec 2004), or food production (Groves 2001). Therefore, there is
no consensus on a general denition for brand authenticity as well
as no agreement regarding its dimensional structure in consumer re-
search. Thus, it is necessary to conceptualize brand authenticity us-
ing a “bottom-up approach” and to acquire a deep understanding of
how consumers perceive authentic brands.
To address this research gap, we aim to conceptualize the phe-
nomenon of brand authenticity. As with other brand research, the
underlying dimensions of brand authenticity need to be identied by
means of a conceptual analysis. We generate a scale to assess the
intensity with which a brand elicits diverse authenticity dimensions.
As the phenomenon cannot be attributed with any one specic basic
discipline, we have to conceptualize our construct based on a variety
of academic elds and develop scale items based on this comprehen-
sively derived theoretical conceptualization.
In order to dene, conceptualize, and analyze the construct of
brand authenticity, we structure our paper as follows. We begin by
classifying brand authenticity within the general authenticity concept
and derive its particularities. Based on this, we distinguish brand au-
thenticity from other branding concepts. We then provide a review of
the literature to understand and differentiate several brand authentic-
ity dimensions. Additionally, we conduct qualitative consumer in-
terviews (study 1) to assess the consumer’s understanding of brand
authenticity. Combining the results from the literature review as well
as the interviews, we derive the different brand authenticity dimen-
sions. In study 2, we ask test-persons to review the identied items
and complement the item list with further brand authenticity associa-
tions. Using standard procedures, we reduce the number of items.
In study 3, we request students to evaluate brands on the elaborated
item list and run an exploratory factor analysis to identify the dimen-
sions of the brand authenticity construct. In study 4, we empirically
validate the scale and expand its generalizability. Moreover, in study
5, we examine the scale’s discriminate validity. We conclude our pa-
per by discussing the implications for marketing practice and by of-
fering stimuli for further research.
THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
The Concept of Brand Authenticity
The concept of authenticity is derived from the Latin word au-
thenticus and the Greek word authentikos conveying the sense trust-
worthiness (Cappannelli and Cappannelli 2004, 1). Due to its perti-
nence to the humanities and social sciences, it covers a wide eld of
conceptual associations. Within marketing research, a denition of
the concept of authenticity can only be rarely found. Thus, a variety
of associations and denotations of the term are implemented by dif-
ferent researchers (Grayson and Martinec 2004; Leigh, Peters, and
Shelton 2006). It has been dened as a positively connoted concept
with semantic associations of “genuineness” (Stern 1996; see also
Aaker and Drolet 1996), agelessness and tradition (Aaker and Drolet
1996), “positive valuation”, “cultural” and “personal” aspect (Stern
1996), originality (Ballantyne et al. 2006; Holt 2002; Stark 2002),
substantiveness (Ballantyne et al. 2006; Stark 2002), “uniqueness
[…]”, “cultural or traditional associations”, “characteristics of the
production process”, “presence of an authority” (Groves 2001, 251),
“evidence and truth” (Grayson and Martinec 2004, 310), “heritage
and pedigree, stylistic consistency, quality commitments, relation-
ship to place, method of production” (Beverland 2006, 253), and
dissociation from commercial motives (Beverland 2006; Holt 2002).
To sum up, the denitions of the general concept of authen-
ticity differ. Nevertheless, the following conclusions can be drawn
for the specic context of brand authenticity: (1) Authenticity in the
context of brands deals with the authenticity of market offerings
(objects and services) in contrast to the authenticity of human be-
ings; (2) Brand authenticity is based on the evaluations of individuals
rather than being solely related to the inherent attributes of the brand
(for references on this topic cf. Beverland and Farrelly 2010); (3)
Brand authenticity corresponds to a variety of attributes since there
is no unique denition of the authenticity concept, particularly in the
branding context.
568 / Brand Authenticity:Towards a Deeper Understanding of Its Conceptualization and Measurement
Distinction Between Brand Authenticity and Further
Brand-related Constructs
Although brand authenticity has conceptual commonalities
with several other constructs within the branding context, it neces-
sarily possesses its own distinctive features. It differs from brand
involvement, brand image, and brand satisfaction. Brand authentic-
ity differs from brand involvement in that the latter is dened as “A
person’s perceived relevance of the object [brand] based on inherent
needs, values, and interests” (Zaichkowsky 1985, 342). In contrast
to this denition, brand authenticity does not involve a motivational
aspect. Consumers may perceive a brand to be authentic without be-
ing motivated to possess it or linking it to themselves in any way.
Equally, brands that elicit a consumer desire for involvement need
not possess any aspect of authenticity.
Brand authenticity is also not identical to brand image, but it
could be seen as an aspect of brand image and thus as constitut-
ing characteristics that consumers associate with a brand. Brand im-
age consists of the consumers’ mental pictures of a brand which are
linked to an offering (Dobni and Zinkhan 1990) and thus to a set
of the consumers’ perceptions about the brand, namely brand asso-
ciations (Dobni and Zinkhan 1990; Keller 1993). This implies that
brand authenticity can be regarded as one specic (positively con-
noted) brand association of consumers and thus a highly authentic
brand could be assumed to have a positive effect on the overall im-
age of a brand.
Brand authenticity can also be conceptually distinguished from
brand satisfaction. Brand satisfaction can be dened as a positive
emotional state of mind resulting from the fulllment of a desire to
consume a brand (cf. Hunt 1977 cited after Mano and Oliver 1993).
It results from the perceived discrepancy between an initial reference
point, the expectation, and the actual brand perception (Oliver 1980).
Alternatively, brand authenticity need not be seen as depending on
consumption of the brand. A consumer’s judgement of a brand’s au-
thenticity then derives rather from an a priori notion of it. Moreover,
brand authenticity is not the result of a perceived discrepancy, but
instead is based on a single variable rooted in the consumer’s brand
mindset. Nevertheless, it could be expected that consumers who at-
tribute a high degree of authenticity to a brand are more likely to be
satised with that brand.
The Role of Authenticity in Other Scientic Disciplines
Considerable consensus exists on the meaning of authenticity
among philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, and psycholo-
gists. Within the eld of philosophy, authenticity is related to the
emancipation from conventional bonds as well as with originality
(Taylor 1991). Moreover, the authentic individual is often dened
as not being self-deceptive and thus being self-reliant as well as
true-to-self (Steiner and Reisinger 2006). According to Heidegger
(1996), authenticity is related to being oneself and thus implies that
individuals who strive for conformity in their lives are inauthentic
and risk losing their own identity (Steiner and Reisinger 1996). So-
ciologists investigate authenticity with regard to individuals, objects,
their representation and/or performance. They denote authentic ex-
periences or performances as being original, credible, sincere, genu-
ine, natural, and unaffected (Carrol and Wheaton 2009; Fine 2003;
Grazian 2003). In anthropology authenticity is often associated with
the preservation of cultural values. Authentic experiences are com-
prehensively characterized as natural (e.g., unspoiled, untouched)
(Handler 1986) and the opposite of being a fake, plastic, and kitschy
imitation (Gable and Handler 1996). Anthropologists also under-
stand authentic as being credible and convincing and at the same
time closely related to distinctiveness (Bruner 1994; Cameron and
Gatewood 1994). Psychologists state that authentic individuals pos-
sess a strong and unique inner reality (Smelser and Baltes 2001).
They regard the increasing orientation of the individual’s behavior
towards social expectations as the opposite of authenticity (Guignon
2004). Within psychology several researchers have proven an indi-
vidual’s authenticity to be a multidimensional construct (Goldman
and Kernis 2002; Kernis 2003; Kernis and Goldman 2006; Lopez
and Rice 2006; Wood et al. 2008).
Consistent with our conceptualization, the literature review of
the different scientic disciplines reveals that authenticity is a ra-
tionally-created characteristic informing an individual’s subjective
perceptions and is thus not a characteristic interpreted as being im-
manent in objective reality. Combining these thoughts and results,
authenticity seems to be related to and connected with terms such as
stability, endurance, consistency, particularity, individuality, trustful-
ness, credibility, keeping promises, genuineness, and realness. In or-
der to establish a holistic conceptualization of brand authenticity, we
integrate the consumers’ understanding of brand authenticity within
the brand authenticity construct. Thus, we complement the results
gained from the relevant research disciplines with an exploratory,
qualitative study.
STUDY 1: ASSESSING THE CONSUMER’S NOTION
OF BRAND AUTHENTICITY
As we aim to ensure that the consumer’s notion of brand au-
thenticity corresponds to the one we have developed so far, we ask
17 people to describe their perceptions of authentic brands by think-
ing of one brand of their choice. In a rst step, using open-ended
questions, we ask participants to select a brand which they perceive
as highly authentic, to write down the brand name as well as the rea-
sons why they perceive the brand as authentic. In a second step, we
ask them to select a brand from an identical or closely related prod-
uct category which they perceive as being hardly authentic or totally
inauthentic. Contrary to the rst case, participants in the second case
are stimulated by words that we identied through the literature re-
view as representing brand authenticity. This allowed us to establish
whether consumers share our understanding of brand authenticity
and investigate whether their perceptions of very authentic brands
and hardly authentic brands differ (for the procedure of this study,
cf. Brakus, Schmitt, and Zarantonello 2009). For a detailed analysis
see table 1.
Later, we ask three raters to assign descriptions derived from
the concept of authenticity to each brand identied as being authen-
tic. For a better visualization of the descriptions, table 2 presents
two characterizations selected by the raters for each of the strongly
authentic brands. For Nivea and Porsche, we provide six descriptions
and four descriptions, respectively, as these brands are named more
than once. As displayed in table 2, respondents gave descriptions
referring to stability, endurance, and consistency (e.g., “constant in
its style,” “offers consistent high quality,” “was always like this”), a
plethora of clues regarding particularity, individuality, and innova-
tiveness (e.g., “novel ideas,” “very innovative marketing campaigns,”
“satises exceptional needs,” “witty creations”), descriptions about
trustfulness, credibility, and keeping promises (e.g., “answers my
product expectations,” “trustworthy,” “reliable,” “condence-build-
ing,” “keep this promise”), and different indications regarding genu-
ineness and realness (e.g., “it is what it is,” “naturalness,” “genuine,”
“uncontrived”). Participants situate their reminiscences of the brand
in a commonly shared context (e.g., “I’ve been knowing it from my
grandma’s bathroom since I was little,” “the company is still locally
anchored in the area where it has its roots”). We also contrast the
participants’ descriptions of weakly and strongly authentic brands.
Advances in Consumer Research (Volume 40) / 569
This reveals that weakly authentic brands are perceived primarily in
terms of their lack of an unambiguous brand image, which is not the
case for strongly authentic brands.
Finally, additional ndings that appear to be interesting were
that all characterizations of strong authentic brands are positive, ex-
cept for two. Moreover, many descriptions referring to authenticity
are formulated in the same general terms that our conceptualization
offered. The results of the rst study indicate that all consumers have
an idea of brand authenticity and that the descriptions assigned to
brand authenticity by the respondents are mostly in line with the
ndings we derived from the literature review. Building on these re-
sults, it seems that the terms related to authenticity can be grouped
into four overall categories representing a brand (1) to be stable and/
or continuous over time; (2) to be creative, original and/or innova-
tive; (3) to keep promises and/or be reliable; (4) to be genuine and/
or natural. Thus, we anticipate brand authenticity to be a four-di-
mensional construct. We term the four dimensions comprehensively
as (1) continuity, (2) originality, (3) reliability, and (4) naturalness.
STUDY 2: GENERATING AND SELECTING ITEMS
FOR THE BRAND AUTHENTICITY SCALE
To capture the four elaborated dimensions of perceived brand
authenticity, we develop a brand authenticity scale. The development
of an appropriate scale presents specic methodological challenges.
On the one hand, brand authenticity is a concept that has a very wide
spectrum of reference. Therefore, we have to investigate several
research disciplines in order to select items that are suitable in es-
tablishing its denition for our present investigation. On the other
hand, the scale items should refer to the extent to which a consumer
evaluates the brand as continuous, original, reliable, or natural; they
should not measure the continuity, originality, reliability, or natural-
ness of the brand’s specic components (e.g., whether the brand’s
advertisement is credible and likely to be true).
We conduct an extensive literature review to identify concepts
associated with the four dimensions of authenticity that also prove to
be transferable to the branding context. The literature demonstrates
that continuity is an important concept, being often discussed in the
Table 2
Description of Authentic Brands
Adidas
Offers reliability regarding the quality and
continuity of its products.
Answers my product expectations.
Alnatura
Principles, promoted in marketing campaigns,
are observed; i.e., employee satisfaction and
organically produced.
Always offers exceptional high-quality food.
American Apparel
American Apparel offers successfully reliable,
beautiful, and consistent products.
They’ve taken care of ecologically and socially
sustainable production for a long time.
Axe
Very innovative marketing campaigns; they
differ from one another but fundamentally have
the same content.
It’s not a copy – it is what it is.
Calida
A condence-building brand.
A reliable brand that delivers what it promises;
i.e., high quality and pleasant wearing comfort.
Coca-Cola
The advertisement is always modern and new but
constant in its style.
A classic beverage that hasn’t changed over time.
Landliebe
Offers uncontrived and environment-friendly
groceries.
A natural-taste adventure.
Miele
Reliable, rich in tradition, and thereby constantly
premium of quality.
Longstanding success without aggressive
advertising.
Nivea
Nivea offers consistent high quality in diverse
product categories.
Nivea is trustworthy and even abroad I can rely
on its products being harmless.
Nivea was always like this.
It also satises exceptional needs.
Stands for naturalness.
I’ve known it from my grandma’s bathroom
since I was little.
Nutella
I buy it because it’s delicious and I know what
I get.
Nutella promotes its brand with honest product
claims.
Persil
Advertising messages are honest and appropriate.
Persil has a long-standing market success and is
always up-to-date.
Porsche
Genuine brand image of sportiness, exclusivity,
and high quality.
Company is still locally anchored in the area
where it has its roots.
Products are not very innovative, but the design
still reminds me of nostalgic cars.
Porsche is a brand with a long tradition.
Tamaris
I can trust in nding witty creations at Tamaris.
The shoes are affordable and keep this promise,
but are not made for eternity.
66° North
I can rely on the brand’s quality even in extreme
weather conditions.
Products are created by experts who always have
novel ideas.
Table 1
Authentic and Inauthentic Brands
Strong Authentic Brands Weak Authentic Brands
Number of Naming (in parentheses)
Adidas (1) Ariel (1)
Alnatura (1) Balea (1)
American Apparel (1) Bally (1)
Axe (1) Crane Sports (1)
Calida (1) Dove-Men (1)
Coca-Cola (1) Fila (1)
Landliebe (1) H&M (1)
Miele (1) Jägermeister (1)
Nivea (3) Müllermilch (2)
Nutella (1) Nestlé (2)
Persil (1) Opel (1)
Porsche (2) P2-Cosmetics (1)
Tamaris (1) Samsung (1)
66° North (1) Snickers (1)
Tata Motors (1)
Note: Some of the brands named in the studies were only known in the area
where the study was conducted, and are therefore outlined in Appendix A.
570 / Brand Authenticity:Towards a Deeper Understanding of Its Conceptualization and Measurement
context of relationships between individuals, consumers, and com-
panies. However, research so far only denes and measures the con-
tinuity of relationships in terms of relationship duration (Anderson
and Weitz 1989; Hess, Ganesan, and Klein 2003; Lusch and Brown
1996). For originality, we examine research on brand image, con-
sumer, and advertising research (Lynn and Harris 1997; Netemeyer
et al. 2004; Olney, Holbrook, and Batra 1991) and identify scales
such as the originality scale, which assesses how a person views
him- or herself as being creative, individual, and spontaneous (Im,
Bayus, and Mason 2003). For reliability, we review the literature
on branding, consumer, and advertising research (Goldsmith, Laf-
ferty, and Newell 2000; Ohanian 1990; Rodgers 2004; Sengupta and
Johar 2002) and nd scales such as the brand trustworthiness scale
(Erdem and Swait 2004), the brand trust scale (Delgado-Ballester,
Munuera-Alemán, and Yagüe-Guillén 2003) and the ad believabil-
ity scale (Beltramini 1988). Finally, for naturalness, only a limited
number of literature streams that deal explicitly with the naturalness
of products or brands are identied. The naturalness of products has
recently become an important feature in the food sector, reected
in the huge demand for organic groceries. Thus, we review articles
dealing with the naturalness of these and related products (Tenbült et
al. 2005; Verhoog et al. 2003).
This literature review led to the identication of 31 terms. Al-
though, we invested substantial effort in reviewing adequate scales
and scale items, we cannot adopt these specic items and apply them
to our four authenticity dimensions without reservation. One of the
main reasons for their sometimes limited transferability often relates
to their implementation within a non-branding context. Additionally,
these identied items only refer to a partial aspect of brand authen-
ticity and thus cannot comprehensively reect whether and to what
degree a consumer has a continuous, original, reliable, or natural per-
ception of a brand.
Thus, to check the identied terms and to determine further
items designed to capture the brand authenticity construct, we ask a
sample of 10 students as well as marketing experts to name a brand
which they perceive as highly authentic. Participants are then re-
quested to specify on a seven-point Likert scale (ranging from 1 in-
dicating ‘not at all’ to 7 indicating ‘very much’) the extent to which
the 31 items describe the brand’s authenticity. Additionally, respon-
dents are asked to name further associations characterizing authentic
brands that are missing in the initial list. Another 36 additional items
are generated by this procedure, augmenting the total number to 67
items, which are then assigned to: (1) the continuity dimension cov-
ering items referring to stability, endurance, and consistency; (2) the
originality dimension covering items referring to particularity, indi-
viduality, and innovativeness; (3) the reliability dimension covering
items referring to trustfulness, credibility, and keeping promises, and
(4) the naturalness dimension covering items referring to genuine-
ness, realness, and non-articiality.
For item purication, we ask a new sample of 20 students to
name a brand they would classify as authentic and then ask them to
point out the degree to which the 67 items describe the brand’s au-
thenticity using a seven-point Likert scale (ranging from 1 indicating
‘describes poorly’ to 7 indicating ‘describes very well’). Building on
the results of the participants’ ratings, we remove items with a mean
rating below four. We also reject the items that were not rated by
more than 10% of respondents, supposing poor comprehensibility of
these items (see Brakus, Schmitt, and Zarantonello 2009; Thomson,
MacInnis, and Park 2005 for this approach). We also rephrased some
items based on respondent’s comments and conducted a face-validi-
ty check regarding the plausibility of the items as well as in order to
examine whether the items’ content overlap. After these validations,
we nally retain 24 applicable items.
Next, another sample consisting of 10 test-persons complete a
comparative rating task for our assessment of substantive-validity.
In this item-sort task, the respondents are requested to ascribe each
identied item to one of the four authenticity dimensions. Respon-
dents are then asked to verify their assignment of items to the re-
spective construct and to review their responses as well as to make
– in their opinion – any necessary changes. Following Anderson and
Gerbing (1991), we calculate the “substantive-validity coefcient”.
This value indicates “the extent to which respondents assign an item
to its posited construct more than to any other construct” (Anderson
and Gerbing 1991, 734). This conducted procedure conrms the va-
lidity of all included items, conrming the developed item structure
for the four brand authenticity dimensions.
STUDY 3: REDUCING ITEMS AND ASSESSING THE
DIMENSIONALITY OF THE SCALE
The aim of study 3 is to further reduce items and establish the
number of constituent brand authenticity dimensions. We choose to
conduct the study with brands from the sports apparel and the soft
drinks industry for two reasons: (1) First the brands that were most
often mentioned in study 1 belong to these two product categories;
(2) Second these categories differ as sports apparel represents du-
rables and soft drinks represent commodities supporting the gener-
alizability of the results. Based on this, we conduct a survey asking
60 students to name one authentic brand within these two product
categories. The stated authentic brands are Adidas, Boss, Burton, Ca-
pri Sonne, Carpe Diem, Coca-Cola, Diesel, Esprit, Fanta, Gatorade,
Gazosa, Gucci, H&M, Lacoste, Levi’s, Nike, Orangina, Red Bull,
Rip Curl, Rivella, Schweppes, Sprite, Strellson, Tommy Hilger,
Vittel, Volvic, and Zara.
In the main study, we ask a new student sample (n = 288) to
judge how well the 24 items describe the authenticity of one of the
brands listed above. We use a seven-point Likert scale (ranging from
1 indicating ‘strongly disagree’ to 7 indicating ‘strongly agree’) to
capture the test-persons’ evaluations of brand authenticity. As the lit-
erature review as well as the results of our empirical studies 1 and 2
lead to the assumption of four distinct brand authenticity factors, we
conduct a factor analysis using varimax rotation limiting the number
of factors to four. The factor analysis with a strict loading condition
( > .7 ) reveals a solution with eigenvalues greater than 1 (the variance
explained shows a value of 70.33%). Fifteen items out of 24 are found
to fulll this condition (cf. Table 3). The identied four factors con-
rm the theoretical assumption of a four-factor structure. This means
in more detail that solely reliability items load on the rst factor (4
items), merely continuity items load on the second factor (4 items),
only originality items load on the third factor (4 items), and nally,
just naturalness items load on the fourth factor (3 items). Additionally,
we test the derived items regarding their reliability using Cronbach’s
alpha (Nunally 1978). The Cronbach’s alphas are in line with the re-
quired minimum value regarding all items of the four factors: continu-
ity (.90), originality (.90), reliability (.96), and naturalness (.95).
STUDY 4: VALIDATING THE DIMENSIONS OF
BRAND AUTHENTICITY
In study 4, we aim at validating the four dimensions by con-
ducting exploratory as well as conrmatory analyses. We employ
again new group of participants and brands to verify the stability
of our scale. By doing this, we ensure that the scale items do not
depend on the participants and brands. This enables us to reveal a
general brand authenticity. For pre-testing we conduct 27 interviews
Advances in Consumer Research (Volume 40) / 571
by asking participants to name two brands they regard as authentic
and one brand they would classify as inauthentic. We focus on the
brands with the highest frequencies of mention, for example Nivea
and VW (each 5 mentions as being authentic), BMW and Coca-Cola
(each 4 mentions as being authentic) and Müller-Milch (2 mentions
as not being authentic). Most of the mentioned brands belong to the
following product category: automobile, sports apparel, beverages,
and body care. Following explicit calls for research regarding the
attribution of human characteristics to retail brands (Ailawadi and
Keller 2004), we integrate retail brands as an additional product
category into the subsequent study, leading to a total number of 15
brands (three per category). Based on this broad pool of authentic
and inauthentic brands, we conduct a main study to validate the gen-
eralizability of our proposed scale.
The study has the purpose to verify the scale’s stability and to
compare the four-factor model with other possible models for fur-
ther validation. Thus, we analyze three different models which are
oulined in the following: (1) a four-factor model (continuity, origi-
nality, reliability, and naturalness) with correlated factors, (2) a one
factor model assuming that the entirety of items load on one brand
authenticity factor, (3) a second-order model with four subdimen-
sions. We conduct structural equation modeling and employ conr-
matory factor analyses in order to dene the model that produces a
t which is better than the t of the other two models. We generate
a sample of 857 participants with an age range of 34 to 69 and an
average age of 49.6 years.
The results of the analysis demonstrate that the four-factor
model ts the data very well: χ2(84) = 457.63, p < .001, normed
t index (NFI) = .97, the comparative t index (CFI) = .98, the
goodness-of-t index (GFI) = .93, the root mean square error of ap-
proximation (RMSEA) = .07. The four-factor model shows a clear
superior t to the one-factor model. The comparison to the second-
order model with four subdimensions demonstrates a very good t of
both models and can not reveal one model to demonstrate a superior
t (table 4). As our theoretical derivations support the four-factor
model with correlated factors and as there is no theoretical founda-
tion that would privilege the more complex second-order model, we
approve the four factor-model with correlated factors as the most
suitable model (gure 1).
STUDY 5: ASSESSING DISCRIMINANT VALIDITY
OF BRAND AUTHENTICITY AND RELATED
The objective of study 5 is to test for discriminant validity of
the brand authenticity scale, demonstrating its discriminability from
other relevant latent variables. A new sample of 115 participants
respond to the 15-item brand authenticity scale and scales relating
to brand involvement, brand image, and brand satisfaction. These
constructs are measured implementing measurements that have been
Table 3
Exploratory Factor Analysis
Item Factor
Reliability Continuity Originality Naturalness
I think brand is consistent over time. .29 .81 .20 .08
I think the brand brand stays true to itself. .27 .79 .20 .30
Brand offers continuity. .28 .84 .16 .24
The brand brand has a clear concept that it pursues. .17 .77 .32 .17
The brand brand is different from all other brands. .10 .23 .86 .15
Brand stands out from other brands. .12 .35 .83 .15
I think the brand brand is unique. .33 .07 .79 .13
The brand brand clearly distinguishes itself from other
brands. .21 .19 .83 .23
My experience of the brand brand has shown me that it
keeps its promises. .81 .31 .25 .27
The brand brand delivers what it promises. .84 .30 .23 .29
Brand’s promises are credible. .82 .28 .19 .33
The brand brand makes reliable promises. .83 .28 .21 .32
The brand brand does not seem articial. .33 .24 .17 .79
The brand brand makes a genuine impression. .32 .20 .23 .86
The brand brand gives the impression of being natural. .31 .22 .22 .85
Table 4
Model Fit Comparison
Model χ 2 d.f. NFI CFI GFI RMSEA
Independence model 17531.13 105
One-factor model 5898.74 90 .66 .67 .46 .28
Four-factor model 457.63 84 .97 .98 .93 .07
Second-order with four
subdimensions 457.97 86 .97 .98 .93 .07
572 / Brand Authenticity:Towards a Deeper Understanding of Its Conceptualization and Measurement
already developed and approved in previous works (Appendix B).
To create variation in brand authenticity values, we followed the
procedure of Thomson, MacInnis, and Park (2005). We requested
about one third of the participants to imagine a brand which they
evaluate as “strongly,” “moderately,” or “not authentic” in order to
ll out the questionnaire. For manipulation checks, we examined the
consumers’ reported brand authenticity. Results demonstrate that the
scores average 3.03, 5.63 and 6.67 in the three manipulation condi-
tions (weak, moderate, and strong). Moreover, the resulting means
signicantly differ from one another (p < .01).
Prior to the analysis of discriminant validity, we transform all
semantic differential scales to Likert scales ranging from 1 to 7 and
compute composite scores for the four brand authenticity dimen-
sions. The discriminant validity of the brand authenticity scale is
assessed using an exploratory factor analysis with varimax rotation
that included the composite scores of the brand authenticity dimen-
sions as well as the items indicating brand involvement, brand im-
age, and brand satisfaction. The factor analysis reveals four factors.
Table 5 reports the results of this analysis.
Factor one and two represent brand satisfaction and brand in-
volvement, respectively, whereas the third factor that emerges re-
ects brand authenticity. The fourth factor is comprised of items
from the brand image construct. These results demonstrate the dis-
criminant validity of the brand authenticity scale compared to other
related marketing constructs, and it also shows that continuity, origi-
nality, reliability, and naturalness load on a single brand authenticity
factor.
DISCUSSION
This paper primarily aimed at the development of a measure re-
ecting the consumer’s perception of a brand’s authenticity. We iden-
tied brand authenticity as a construct consisting of four dimensions,
namely continuity, originality, reliability, and naturalness – with the
dimensions being differentially evaluated for various brands. The
nal brand authenticity scale (15-items) is reasonable regarding its
length and therefore easy to implement. The existence of the four-
factor model is consistent across different samples and studies and
thus passes reliability and validity tests successfully. Moreover, evi-
Figure 1
Conrmatory Factor Analysis: The Brand Authenticity Construct
I think brand is consistent over time.
I think the brand br and stays true to
itself.
Brand offers continuity.
Originality
.58*
* p ≤ .01; Standardized coefficient values a re shown a bove the associated line. The dotted lines represent the correlation between the
four authenticity dimensions.
.
The brand brand is different from all
other brands.
Brand stands out from other brands.
I think the brand brand is unique.
.70*
.70*
The brand brand has a clear concept
that it pursues.
The brand brand clearly distinguishes
itself from other brands.
.90*
Continuity
My experience of the brand brand
has shown me that it keeps its
promises.
The brand brand delivers what it
promises.
Brand’s promises are credible.
.82*
The brand brand does not seem
artificial.
The brand brand makes a genuine
impression.
The brand brand makes reliable
promises.
The brand brand gives the impression
of being natural.
Reliability
.70*
.68*
.91*
.91*
.86*
.93*
.96*
.95*
.97*
.97*
.91*
.97*
.87*
.90*
.93*
.94*
Naturalness
Advances in Consumer Research (Volume 40) / 573
dence of discriminant validity is obtained in study 5, where brand
authenticity is distinguishable from other branding concepts.
Several implications for brand managers can be drawn from the
results of our studies. In order to positively inuence a brand’s con-
tinuity and thus its authenticity, it seems necessary to determine key
facts (historically as well as over time) about the brand, such as its
foundation and its circumstances, the features upholding its tradi-
tions, its anniversary, the values based on its traditions, and to imple-
ment these in the marketing mix. Implementations can take a variety
of forms: a brand’s permanent pledge to its roots, and the introduc-
tion of proxies (e.g., founders, innovations, stories) that symbolize a
brand’s heritage. Key facts about the brand can also be implemented
within brand communications in order to promote positive brand
features associated with its traditionalism. This can be achieved by
presenting images of traditional elements on brand packaging and
integrating these values visually in brand logos and verbally in slo-
gans. Events can also be used to convey these key facts about the
brand: traditional occasions and brand anniversary celebrations offer
opportunities to animate such associations.
Brands which symbolically embody the image of the consum-
er’s national identity benet from epithets such as ‘rich in culture
and tradition’, and are thereby attributed with authenticity. More-
over, brand’s originality and naturalness can be positively inuenced
by stimulating local icon value, as this is unique for every single
brand and part of its real self. Thus, brand managers rstly have to
examine the values of a specic country and its culture, respectively.
Secondly, they have to investigate the symbols (e.g., a logo, an im-
age) that represent these values, which can be expected to vary wide-
ly between different countries and cultures. Numerous channels exist
for conveying these identied values and integrating them within the
company culture: They can be incorporated in symbols printed on
the brand’s packaging and, if possible, integrated in the product de-
sign; they can be transmitted graphically, verbally or actively using
the media of the brand’s communications (e.g., storytelling through
advertising, events); they can be incorporated in rituals and artifacts
designed to promote them and be reected in a pricing strategy and
distribution channels that serve to reinforce them.
To enhance a brand’s authenticity, companies should also aim
at creating a unied brand perception, using all internal and external
communication sources in order to ensure its reliability. This implies
a persistent presentation of the brand name, logo, and slogan through
all communication media and communication tools. Additionally,
marketers need to focus on a contextual, formal, and temporal inte-
gration of all these communication activities. Contextual integration
can be achieved through a consistent implementation of messages,
arguments, and statements which should particularly emphasize the
different dimensions of a brand’s authenticity. Formal integration
can be attained by a consistent brand appearance. This entails es-
tablishing xed brand references such as the brand name, logo and
slogan as well as to the font, typography, layout, colors, and images.
Finally, temporal integration demands an action plan regarding the
implementation of the different communication activities. In addi-
tion, communication also needs to be consistent with regard to the
different target groups (consumers, retailers, the public) and external
communication activities need to be coordinated with internal brand
management. This also enhances a brand’s reliability. One specic
example of how to create authenticity using an integrated brand pres-
ence would be to create a communication platform to address the
topic of sustainability and thereby highlight the company’s engage-
ment in supporting this issue (e.g., advertising campaigns, sponsor-
ing activities). This communication platform could then be imple-
mented for external as well as internal communication purposes. In
summary, in order to achieve an integrated brand presence, compa-
nies need to ensure consistency (consistent statements), congruence
(between communication and behavior), and continuity (regarding
the implementation of the different communication instruments) of
brand communications.
Thus, the brand authenticity scale developed in this paper is
not only theoretically relevant, but will nd application in marketing
practice. As marketers strive to satisfy the consumer’s search for au-
thenticity more than ever before and as companies try to understand
and improve the authenticity of their brands by clearly communicat-
ing their brand’s salient sale’s features, both groups will be able to
use the brand authenticity scale for assessment, planning, and track-
ing purposes. With regard to using brand authenticity for appraisal
and planning purposes, the brand’s positioning should be assessed,
and brand authenticity should be integrated within the company-
specic brand model as a major component of brand positioning.
The application of brand authenticity to brand positioning is also a
relevant factor in the context of brand repositioning in a competi-
tive market. Moreover, the scale can be used to track changes in
brand perception when implementing any kind of marketing action
(e.g., communication campaign), and it can also be used to track
and evaluate important competitors over time in terms of their brand
authenticity.
Nevertheless, our study is not without limitations. Although,
we have been successful in validating the generalizability of the
Table 5
Exploratory Factor Analysis with Brand Authenticity, Brand
Satisfaction, Involvement and Image
Factor
Item Satisfaction Involvement Authenticity Image
Naturalness .40 .31 .71 .28
Reliability .47 .39 .72 .09
Continuity .29 .16 .86 .04
Originality .19 .34 .65 .41
Satisfaction 1 .76 .39 .21 .30
Satisfaction 2 .76 .32 .25 .35
Satisfaction 3 .83 .28 .32 .21
Satisfaction 4 .80 .31 .40 .10
Satisfaction 5 .78 .37 .39 .07
Satisfaction 6 .77 .42 .22 .27
Satisfaction 7 .79 .32 .17 .30
Involvement 1 .35 .80 .18 .22
Involvement 2 .34 .82 .19 .27
Involvement 3 .31 .84 .22 .23
Involvement 4 .33 .80 .23 .28
Involvement 5 .33 .63 .40 .02
Involvement 6 .35 .78 .27 .25
Image 1 .22 .26 .20 .83
Image 2 .15 .29 .21 .86
Image 3 .26 .11 -.01 .82
574 / Brand Authenticity:Towards a Deeper Understanding of Its Conceptualization and Measurement
brand authenticity scale across various product categories, we have
not fully achieved the aim of capturing the respondents’ reports on
brands that reect extreme levels of brand authenticity. One possible
explanation for this might be the fact that respondents in German-
speaking regions tend to tick less extreme response categories than
respondents in southern European countries (Van Rosmalen, van
Herk, and Groenen 2010). This implies that it is necessary to vali-
date the scale in further countries by paying particular attention to
the country-specic differences in response behavior. This leads to
another interesting area for future research; namely, an intercultural
comparison of brand authenticity. It can be assumed that certain
characteristics of brand authenticity are differently evaluated de-
pending on cultural background.
With regard to the authenticity levels, the ndings also dem-
onstrate that brands with low measures of authenticity are scarce.
However, some brands show moderate levels of overall brand au-
thenticity, while they show very low values for specic authenticity
dimensions. This result indicates that managers who aim to enhance
their brand’s authenticity should pay attention to the specic authen-
ticity dimensions and implement dimension-specic analysis. The
sparseness of results on highly authentic brands may either indicate
that such brands are rare in the general branding context or that
managers still have a considerable distance to go in improving their
brand’s authenticity. This requires future research.
Additionally, further research should be undertaken using the
brand authenticity scale. It is interesting that the brands chosen by
the respondents tended to be consumer goods, as opposed to services
or even industrial goods. It is possible that consumer goods’ brands
are more frequently mentioned, because they are more salient and
memorable, irrespective of their authenticity level. However, future
research must investigate whether the type of product is relevant to
the level of brand authenticity perceived and required by the con-
sumer.
Additionally, longitudinal research on the development of
brand authenticity over time would also be useful in order to identify
the changes in brand authenticity that are possibly connected with
changes in society. In the context of these issues, it would also be
interesting to investigate whether the often-stated assumption of an
increased consumer quest for authenticity in times of uncertainty, for
example in nancial crises or periods of political instability, can be
empirically proven. In this context, an investigation of the role that
brand authenticity performs in critical corporate situations arising,
for instance, from environmental scandals or public outcries against
poor working conditions would present an interesting eld for fu-
ture research. Finally, an application of the authenticity concept to
other contexts such as the authenticity of politicians would offer very
promising research questions, particularly in view of the public’s in-
creasing political apathy today. Given the increasing relevance of
brand authenticity in a constantly changing marketing environment,
our ndings provide a threshold to a wide area of future research.
APPENDIX A
Alnatura: Alnatura is a retail brand in the biological grocery
sector. Alnatura offers groceries and textiles which are fabricated
according to ecological standards and certied by an independent
accredited institution for organic product testing.
Balea: Balea is a private body- and hair-care brand of a drug-
store chain.
Calida: Calida is an underwear brand that specializes in day
and night wear for men and women as well as on luxurious lingerie.
Landliebe: Landliebe is a dairy brand that emphasizes the natu-
ralness of their products by claiming to guarantee that their animals
are not fed on genetically modied food.
Lidl: Lidl is a discount chain for groceries.
Müllermilch: Müllermilch is a milky drink brand that is of-
fered in a variety of basic avors such as strawberry, vanilla, and
chocolate, as well as special avors such as pistachio-coconut.
Persil: Persil is a brand of laundry detergent.
P2-Cosmetics: P2-Cosmetics is the private make-up brand of
a drugstore chain.
Rewe: Rewe is a retail chain for groceries.
Ryan Air: Ryan Air is a low-cost airline.
Tamaris: Tamaris is a shoe brand offered in their own outlets
or in multibrand stores selling women’s shoes at reasonable prices.
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... In times of uncertainty, the factor of authenticity tends to become an essential human aspiration, making it a key issue in contemporary marketing and a major factor for brand success [4]. ...
... Today one of modern marketing's central themes is the tension between authenticity and in-authenticity [9]. Four dimensions of authenticity have been identified, which are: continuity, originality, reliability, and naturalness [4]. They were identified by literature review and several studies with different consumers and brands, and by developing a scale for measuring the strength of consumers' perceived brand authenticity. ...
... Brand Authenticity refers both to the product and the company [4]. Charles Taylor has pictured the impact of COVID-19 in advertising, citing that during the pandemic advertisement focused especially on corporate social responsibility coloring mostly the aspects of consumer safety, employee welfare, honoring first responders, donations to charity [17]. ...
... As the evaluative qualities of brands have become similar, Gilmore and Pine (2007) note that authenticity is the "new" quality that determines consumers' brand choices. Bruhn et al. (2012) define brand authenticity with characteristics of continuity, originality, reliability, and naturalness. Several studies have expanded understanding of this concept by investigating antecedents and consequences of brand authenticity (Choi et al., 2015;Fritz et al., 2017). ...
... Students were recruited for the study in exchange for extra course credit. Using a Qualtrics survey, students were asked to list two fashion brands they know and, for each brand listed, answer questions measuring their opinions about the brand authenticity dimensions (continuity, originality, reliability, and naturalness) (Bruhn et al., 2012), self-brand congruence (Malär, 2011), brand attitude (Grohmann & Bodur, 2015) and purchase intention (Dodds et al., 1991). In total, the data sample size for study was 802 responses (401 participants x 2 brands). ...
... Several studies have investigated applicability of the authenticity concept to the branding context (e.g., Dwivedi & McDonald, 2018;Moulard et al., 2015;Moulard et al., 2016). They agree that brand authenticity offers consumers several advantages such as the ability to offer a sense of continuity in ever-changing, complex environments characterized by uncertainty (Fritz et al., 2017), cultivating the credibility of brands (Schallehn et al., 2014;Becker et al., 2019), enabling a unique brand positioning (Lu et al., 2015), increasing customer satisfaction (Bruhn et al., 2012), or making consumers more receptive to brand messages (Audrezet et al., 2020). Brand authenticity describes the extent to which a specific brand appears to be genuine, real, and true. ...
... Specifically, we show that there is a positive spillover effect of influencer authenticity on a brand's authenticity, which should be regarded as an important mediator. The critical role of brand authenticity has been highlighted by extant literature, which shows that the concept offers consumers several advantages -such as the ability to offer a sense of continuity in everchanging, complex environments characterized by uncertainty (Fritz et al., 2017), cultivating the credibility of brands (Schallehn et al., 2014;Becker et al., 2019), enabling a unique brand positioning, increasing customer satisfaction (Bruhn et al., 2012), making consumers more receptive to brand messages (Audrezet et al., 2020), or even predicting consumers' attitude towards brands (Napoli et al., 2014) and their willingness to purchase them (Fritz et al., 2017). To benefit from these potentials, brand managers must understand the nature of brand authenticity, its components, and boundaries. ...
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Social media influencers are increasingly approached by marketers to advocate brands and products. This practice is commonly called ‘influencer marketing’. Influencers can take advantage of their reach and importance for consumers’ decision making by obtaining rewards from marketers. At the same time, consumers are increasingly aware of this practice. In this context, the perception of an influencers´ authenticity is key when it comes to his/her ability to persuade others. In this research, we shed light on the nature of the influencer authenticity construct, its boundaries as well as its relationships with brand-related variables responsible for consumers’ buying decisions. Using an experimental approach (n = 163), we demonstrate that especially influencers’ uniqueness and consistency increase their authenticity. Furthermore, our results show a strong impact of influencer authenticity on purchase intention, which is partially mediated via brand authenticity and brand attitude.
... 즉, 어떤 브랜드가 진정성이 있는지에 대한 평가의 기준은 브랜드가 가진 내 재적 가치와 소비자마다 다르게 가지고 있는 판단 기준에 따라서 다 를 수밖에 없다 (Napoli et al., 2014;Nunes et al., 2021). 브랜드 (Bruhn et al., 2012;Fritz et al., 2017;Kim et al., 2014;Morhart et al., 2015;Napoli et al., 2014;Seo & Lee, 2013;Su et al., 2014) (Fournier, 1998;Kapferer, 2012;Kim et al., 2015;Mael & Ashforth, 1992 (Clothier, 1937;James, 1964 ...
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PURPOSE This study aimed to identify the dimensions of sport brand authenticity and to develop a valid and reliable scale for measuring such dimensions. METHODS Along with a sequential mixed method design, qualitative researches were conducted (a literature review on brand authenticity and the inherent value of sport, 5 one-to-one expert interviews, and a Delphi survey of 10 researchers). Based on the qualitative research results, an EFA (n=304), 2 times CFA (1st: n=304, 2nd: n=311), and correlation analysis using the other scale (brand relationship quality, brand attachment, brand credibility) were conducted to test reliability, construct validity, and criterion-related validity. RESULTS In the qualitative research results, 8 dimensions with 36 items were extracted; however 6 dimensions (originality, connectedness, legitimacy, authority, sport spirit, and expertise) with 28 items were identified as appropriate structures from EFA and CFA, and the relations between all the dimensions and other scales related to consumer attitude were statistically significant in the correlation analysis. CONCLUSIONS The findings suggest that the scale in this study could provide a new and specific perspective on sport brand authenticity, which is constructed using a general aspect and a sport specific aspect, and an understanding of the concept of sport brand authenticity in other sport industries.
... However, perceptions of authenticity are personal and elastic (Peterson, 2005). For instance, authentic ethnic food is perceived as an intangible heritage (Okumus et al., 2007) and a personal aspect which connects consumers with their tradition, self-identity, values, religion and family heritage (Beverland, 2005;Bruhn et al., 2012;Assiouras et al., 2015). ...
... Tüketici ile marka arasındaki ilişkinin güçlendirilmesi noktasında, markalara özgü özelliklerin tüketici istekleriyle ilişkilendirilmesi önem taşımaktadır. Markanın birçok özelliğini kapsayan marka özgünlüğü, bu ilişkilendirmede ön plana çıkmaktadır (Bruhn, 2012). ...
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