The concept of authenticity: what it means to consumersJOURNAL OF MARKETING, 2021
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 reconceptualizing authenticity, defining it as a holistic consumer assessment determined by six component judgments (accuracy, connectedness, integrity, legitimacy, originality, and proficiency) whereby the role of each component can change according to the consumption context. This definition emerges from a two-stage, multimethod concept reconstruction process leveraging data from more than 3,000 consumers across no fewer than 17 types of consumption experiences. In stage one, the authors 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. The authors document how certain components contribute to assessments of authenticity differently across contexts; in addition, they show that authenticity has consumer-relevant downstream consequences while being conceptually distinct from consumer attitudes. Their findings offer practitioners direction regarding what to emphasize to convey authenticity to consumers.