The Strive For The Authentic Brand Experience

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The strive for the authenticbrand experienceHow an identity-based authenticitymodel can increase trustAPRIL 2021, GERMANY

The strive for the authentic brand experience Contents03 Preface04 Management Summary07 Authenticity increases Brand Trust09 Brand authenticity as an identity-based social construct10 Conceptual Framework of identity-based brand authenticity11 Scale development and validation24 Conclusion26 Managerial implications27 About the Study28 About the Authors29 Endnotes02

The strive for the authentic brand experience PrefacePrefaceThe rise of brand authenticityOn a consumers’ longingfor the authentic:“Consumers havethe feeling thatauthenticity hasbeen withheld. Theynow require it back.”In uncertain times, characterizedby a global pandemic, poverty,inequality, youth unemploymentand climate change, people feel aloss of available identity anchorsand a loss of orientation. In thiscontext, they face the challengeof finding points of reference fortheir own identity construction.To meet this challenge and todevelop a sense of continuity andbelonging, people are increasinglylooking for authenticity intheir daily lives. Authenticityconveys a sense of genuineness,truthfulness and satisfies afundamental human aspiration.The use of authentic brandscombines inner satisfaction withthe external expression of one’sown self.A growing importance of nonmaterialistic attributes alsoincreases the appreciation ofauthenticity. This does not seemto occur as a fad, but rather as anattempt by consumers to changethe socio-cultural characteristicsof consumption.03More and more, people havethe feeling that companies havedeprived them of what is trueand authentic. Now they aredemanding brands that satisfythe awakening longing for theauthentic.Millennials are driving this societaltrend; 40% of those polled by theDeloitte Millennial Survey believethe goal of businesses should beto ‘improve society’. They assignauthentic brands at-tributes suchas morality and accountability.This is seriously worth pondering.Millennials already make up 40%of all consumers, influencingabout 40 billion in annual sales.

The strive for the authentic brand experience Management SummaryManagementSummaryThe consumers’ faith in brands isdeclining, and with it the stabilityof the brand attachment.1 Thebrand attachment as a centralperformance indicator of brandmanagement plays a key role forbrand success: as a result of allbrand management activities,it results in concrete customerbehavior such as the purchasedecision, increased willingnessto pay or a recommendationintention.2 The brand trustherein is the decisive factor inestablishing and maintaining thebrand-customer relationship.3However, the great importanceof brand trust is currentlycolliding with a loss of trustacross institutions.4 In timesof banking and financial crisis,fraud scandals and tax evasion byglobal corporations, consumersincreasingly see their trustabused.5A cross-industry loss ofbrand trust is the result. Thisdevelopment leads to challengeswithin the brand managementpractice and immediatelyincreases the research interestin the construct of brandauthenticity recognized inacademia and business practiceas a central lever for buildingbrand trust. This was the startingpoint for our quest to identify andempirically validate the drivers ofbrand authenticity.When we analyze the buildingblocks of authenticity, wedistinguish between twodimensions: the integrity level of acompany consisting of an integralpoint of reference, behavioralcontinuity over time andcoherence across touchpoints,and the level of originality of thebrand identity.Kleine-Kalmer, 2015, p. 571Burmann et al., 2018, p. 412Burmann et al., 2015, p. 59; Hegner, 2012, p. 523Deloitte Millenial Survey, 2019; Bialek, 20194Doyle, 2016; Fendel and Frenkel, 2009; IMF, 2010; Macho and Schaal, 2017;Merten, 2015; Schieritz, 2016; Simon, 2017; U.S. House of Representatives, 20155 04

The strive for the authentic brand experience Management SummaryKEEP YOUR PROMISESTAY TRUE TO YOURSELFVALUE YOUR HERITAGEThe Authentic Top 10s three commitmentsAuthenticity can neither be copied nor permanently faked. Just declaring that one’s own brand is authentic canhave the opposite effect. If the rhetoric of a brand does not correspond to the actual brand experience, thebrand loses its authenticity. Brand authenticity is not only promoted, it is lived every day and at all brand touchpoints. At its core, this requires a relationship between word and deed.Walk the talk0103Approaching authenticity from itssociological roots, it describes thecongruence between the existenceof a profound brand identity andan actual brand behavior that canreally and comprehensively beexplained through this identity.Keep your promiseValue your heritage“Reliably keeping our promises.”“Stay consistently good for decades.”The Most Authentic brandsconvey a feeling of reliability. Nopromises are made which cannotbe kept. No matter the brandidentity, whether they focus onquality leadership, innovation orunique design. Authentic brandswalk the talk.Authentic brands are coherentat any specific point in time andcontinuously managed over time.Knowing what they stand for andvaluing their heritage, authenticbrands are consistent for yearsin their promise and appearance.That does not mean they don’tchange, but staying true to theirinner core: they’ve proven thatover the years.The consumer with theirsubjective ideas and expectationssearches for authenticity, whichthey see confirmed when theyassume that the brand actsaccording to an inner compassand avoids opportunisticalignment with trends.Authenticity thus shows theperceived coherence betweenself-portrayal, behavior andidentity, which is constituted bythe determinants of originalityand integrity.We find, that the most authenticbrands stick to three major rules:0502Stay true to yourself“Do not bend and remain true toourself - even as the brand expands.”Finding and preserving the brandcore is what the most authenticbrands master. This holds true dayto day, on any brand touchpoint.Authentic brands stand out,especially when neglecting shortterm economic goals to stay trueto themselves without followingany trend.

The strive for the authentic brand experience Management SummaryThe most authentic brands master this rules and they do that for a good reason: Authentic behavior increasesbehavioral and economic performance indicators, with a highly significant impact on brand trust, purchaseintention and the overall brand image.Figure 1 Effects on consumer behaviorBrand ImageBrandAuthenticityBrand TrustPurchase Intention“Brand authenticity shows highly significant impacton brand trust, image and purchase intention.”6Adomeit, 2020606

The strive for the authentic brand experience Authenticity increases Brand TrustAuthenticityincreases Brand TrustBrand parity and a cross-institutional loss of trustMany markets today arecharacterized by a hyper-realitycreated by brands, in whichconsumers are confronted withillusory worlds that stage theunreal as reality. At the sametime, however, attitudes towardsa brand and purchasing decisionsincreasingly depend on the extentto which an offer is perceived asgenuine by the potential buyer.In this situation, the consumerstrust in the brand is becoming themost important factor for buildingstrong brands. And the trustconsumers have in a brand is seenas the most important factor forthe future viability ofthe respective brand.The great importance of brandtrust collides with the loss oftrust across sectors. One strategyagainst this loss of trust is seenin the authenticity of brands.Authentic brands differentiatethemselves credibly, createpreferences and contributesignificantly to a stable brandcustomer relationship.Adomeit, 2020707A crisis of the similarWhat do you standfor?A general uncertainty anddecreasing willingness totrust meets uniform brandcommunication and propositions.In the consumers’ perception, theinterchangeability of brands, calledbrand parity, is increasing.The high competitive pressurein global markets and rapidimitation cycles have led to anin-creasing interchangeability ofthe functional and non-functionalattributes. Despite an unendingarray of variations in supermarketsand mass merchandisers, thedifferences between brands aretypically not significant enough forany single brand to stand out.Today, 815,589 trademarksregistered in Germany aloneare available for consumers tochoose from. The number of newtrademark registrations per yearrose from 59,849 in 2012 to 73,633in 2019 and is fostering brandinflation. Increasing complexity inthe purchasing process, decreasingbrand loyalty and brand trustare the result of the flood ofbrands with interchangeablecharacteristics and promise.Brands are suffering from a crisisof the similar.The crisis of the similar is theresult of similar strategies, similarinvestments, similar understanding of consumer needs, andsimilar business models across theindustry, demonstrating a strongfocus on outside-in orientation.Brands tend to be reactive toconsumer behavior instead ofpredicting changes in consumers’underlying attitudes andconfidently deliver what the brand,inside-out, really stands for.In order to still be included in theconsumers’ consideration set,strong brands have to claim newpositioning fields. In the future, it willbe less a matter of communicatingunique brand promises than ofcredibly standing for a unequivocalbrand purpose and actuallydelivering on that purpose. Brandauthenticity will thus become adecisive bottleneck factor.7

The strive for the authentic brand experience Authenticity increases Brand TrustBrand Authenticity accounts forof the brand trust92%The Relevance of Brand AuthenticityAuthenticity increasestrust“Brand authenticityincreasessocioeconomic KPIssuch as brand trust,purchase intentionand loyalty.”08Trust and emotional closenessmoderated by trust are moreimportant than functionalperformance and individualityof the brand. By influencing thewillingness to buy, the willingnessto pay and the willingnessto recommend the brand,the monetary brand value oftrustworthy brands increases.Brand authenticity createstrust. The importance ofbrand authenticity for branddifferentiation is thereforegrowing continuously. The highinterchangeability of manybrands reduces their credibility.Brand authenticity, as a factorupstream of trust, becomes a“guarantor” for the “authenticity”of the brand promise and justifiesthe building of trust.The high relevance of authenticityfor modern brand managementresults, in addition to its trustbuilding function, from thegrowing social call for authenticity.Consumers demand brands thatoffer an original story, a clearidentity and a sincere commitmentto their own promises.

The strive for the authentic brand experience Brand authenticity as an identity-based social constructBrand authenticityas an identity-basedsocial constructIn uncertain times, characterizedby the perceived and realdissolution of national borders, thedecreasing importance of religion,a declining integration into localsocieties and exponentiallyadvancing technology, manyhumans experience a deficit ofavailable identity anchors.8 Thechallenge for individuals, todaymore than ever, lies in findingpoints of reference for their ownidentity construction - which inthe past were conveyed throughhome, community or higher values- and thus developing their ownself in a self-referential act.In order to meet this challenge andto develop a sense of continuityand security, people seek forauthentic experiences in their dailylives. This search is developing intoa fundamental human endeavorand includes consumption andbrand relationships. Social identityformation is enriched by theconscious consumption of brandsthat correspond to one’s own(desired) identity and serves toposition the consumer in a socialcontext.9 Brands that are perceivedas authentic serve this identitybuilding process particularly welland are therefore in a position tobuild stronger relationships withcustomers.Arnould and Price, 2000, p. 143; Heilinger, 2010, p. 468Burmann et al., 2015, p. 3909

The strive for the authentic brand experience Conceptual Framework of identity-based brand authenticityConceptual Frameworkof identity-based brandauthenticityIdentity is the sociologicalinitial concept of authenticityThe concept of authenticity existsin the field of tension between auniversal concept of validity andthe academic construction withindifferent disciplines and currentswithin sociology, philosophy,psychology and aesthetic artdiscourse. Etymologically the termauthenticity is derived from theGreek word authentikós (reliable,genuine, original, correct)and the late Latin authenticus(recognized, guaranteed, reliable)and describes in particular thegenuineness of documents.10According to Taylor, the modernideal of authenticity is fedthrough identity reconstructionfrom the ideals of loyalty tooneself and self-determination.Authenticity here integrates thesurrounding social context.In line with this understanding,Kuhl points out that authenticityis related to identity and that theevaluation process is based onthe extent to which (assumed)identity and behavior are inharmony.11 From this sociologistand psychological view, theauthenticity construct can betrans-lated to the marketingsciences.Derivation and definitionof brand authenticity as aperceptual constructAnalogous to its use withinthe social sciences, the termauthenticity is also understoodin the brand context oftentimesas a positively quoted semanticconcept and is described asgenuineness, trustworthiness,credibility, naturalness, individualityand originality. When we take upthis conceptualization and transferit into the identity-based brandmanagement approach,Assmann, 2014, p. 28; Buciuman, 2010, p. 19; Mauthner, 2015; Zeno, 201610 Kuhl and Luckner, 2007, p. 911Burmann et al., 2018; Burmann and Schallehn, 2008; Adomeit, 202012 10which consists of an internalidentity concept representing theself-image of the brand, a conciseand relevant positioning is derivedthat defines the brand promiseand brand behavior across allbrand touchpoints. Furthermore,in an external decoding process,this approach creates theexternal perspective, the brandimage, in the consumer’s mind.Within the identity-based brandmanagement, authenticity can bedefined as the degree to which thebrand behavior is causally linked tothe brand identity.12Brand authenticity in thisunderstanding, is therefore theresult of a subjective evaluationprocess between a reference point- which is conceptualized as theanticipated brand identity - and theactual perceived brand behavior.The definition ensures theintegration of an internal(identity-based) and an external(perception-oriented) perspective.The internal managementprocess is considered as wellas the customer and all otherstakeholder with their subjectiveideas and expectations.

The strive for the authentic brand experience Scale development and validationScale developmentand validationTo the best of our knowledge, no stable measurement model exists in the literature for assessing perceivedidentity-based brand authenticity (IBBA) that consistently integrates brand authenticity into identity-basedbrand management and strictly applies the state of scale development re-search. For the development andempirical evaluation of IBBA, an established, approved process therefore was applied, reflecting existinginsights regarding the operationalization of complex marketing constructs. According to literature13, thefollowing process is required:Table 1: Application of the scale development process for IBBAPHASEMETHODOLOGYOUTCOME01Study 1: Qualitative AnalysisConstruct definitionand item refinement- Literature analysis- Basic, comprehensive understanding of thefacets of the constructStudy 2: Expert interviews- Definition of the brand authenticity modelin the context of identity-based brandmanagement- Qualitative analysis with 15 in-depth interviewswithin an expert focus group.- Concept for possible factor structure/dimensionalityStudy 3: Definition assignment task- Basic item set- Content validity- Initial item generation (243)- Expert evaluation with seven participants- Item reduction (154)- Qualitative research design- Final indicator quantity for the pretest (70)02Study 4: Pretest series- Quantitative derivation of the factor structureItem reduction andvalidation- Quantitative survey with 13 panelists of the focusgroup- Adjusted indicator set with 35 items in 2dimensions- Review of item formulation (comprehensibility/unambiguity) and elimination- Optimization of the measurement model- Net sample of 40 participants from the focusgroup- Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA)Burmann et al., 2015, p. 91; Burmann et al., 2018, p. 355; Burmann and Maloney, 2007,p. 221; Maloney, 2007, p. 221; Piehler, 2011, p. 355; Schade, 2012, p. 9113 11

The strive for the authentic brand experience Scale development and validationPHASEMETHODOLOGYOUTCOME03Study 5: Main studyScale validation andevaluation of themeasurement model- Net sample of 1,015 participants from thefocus group- Final 2-factor measurement model with14-indicators and competing 4-factorsolution- Reliability and validity analysis- EFA- Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) tovalidate model-fit of the reflective model- Validity check- Structural analysis to evaluate theformative modelNotes:Following recommendations from (Churchill, JR., 1979; Diamantopoulos and Winklhofer, 2001; Eberl, 2004; Giere and Wirtz, 2006;Homburg and Giering, 1996; Jarvis et al., 2003; Rossiter, 2002).12

The strive for the authentic brand experience Scale development and validationConsumer’s characteristicsTo understand the challenges andopportunities associated with thebrand authenticity perceptionfrom the consumer’s perspective,a representative survey of morethan 5,020 customers in theGerman market was conducted.The sample was drawn from anonline panel with populationrepresentative distribution acrosshousehold income, educationand gender between age 26 and75. The net-sample of 1,015 wasused as the data basis for 0151050 1.0001.000 2.0002.000 3.0003.000 4.0004.000 5.000NET INCOME34.5%25.8%49.1%50.9%completed secondaryschool.female.1366-75graduated from highschool.male28.3%completed universitydegree or higher. 5.000

The strive for the authentic brand experience Scale development and validationStudy 1: Literaturereview1/3 of consumersare loyal to theirbrands. Do youreally want to loosethe rest?85% ofAspirationalistsbelieve the brandsthey buy say a lotabout who they are.14Deductive and inductiveprocedures were applied forthe brand authenticity itemdevelopment, starting withreviewing relevant literature(inductive). Based on an extensive,cross-disciplinary research, aninitial set of potential items wasdeveloped. Due to the fact thatauthenticity constructs are notprecisely and equally definedin the literature, a broad rangeof brand authenticity-relatedconstructs was reviewed whichincluded indicators and driversthat might be of importance.Items that do not representperceptual attributes wereexcluded and redundant itemswere merged. An initial set of 110items was identified through theliterature analysis.

The strive for the authentic brand experience Scale development and validationStudy 2: Expert in-depth interviewsFollowing the recommendationfor scale development, along withan extensive literature analysis aqualitative research design wasestablished and qualified through15 expert interviews to uncoverthe IBBA’s factor structure.The aim of the preliminaryinvestigations was to verify therelevance of the research questionand to further develop a validitem set for the brand authenticityscale that served as a basis forthe main investigation. Based onthe scale development procedureaccording to Churchill, an ex-actdefinitio

The brand promise and its appearance over recent years are a good match.790.430 The brand has its own distinct style.772 The brand does not try to copy other brands. .457.595 The brand stands out from other brands.783 The brand has something special that makes it appear special. .474.739 The

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