Researchers have found one of the critical factors that influence consumers to believe a brand is, in fact, authentic. The investigators have found that information about a founder's motivation for creating a company has a powerful effect on whether consumers deem a brand authentic, which in turn influences judgments about the quality of the product.
The researchers have discovered that even for products that are generally disliked, the same trend applied. They shared different stories about the origins of a cigarette brand, and the group in the intrinsic motivation condition read that the owner was a nightclub manager who had been hand-rolling cigarettes using unique tobacco blends for himself and decided to start a business based on this hobby.
The extrinsic motivation participants read that the nightclub manager noticed that blended cigarettes were becoming more popular and he capitalised on this market knowledge by starting a business. As expected, the people in the intrinsic motivation condition rated the brand as more authentic and higher in quality than the motivation group.
The findings are published in the journal of 'Consumer Psychology.'
"The findings suggest that people draw many inferences about a company based on their beliefs about its authenticity," says Melissa Cinelli, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Mississippi. "A company's storytelling strategy can shift opinions."
Melissa Cinelli further said "Consumer's tendency to make assumptions about authenticity can also serve as a word of caution to marketers. If consumers, for example, believe that a granola brand is authentically all-natural, but they notice high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient, they could feel betrayed if they considered this ingredient to be artificial. This could prompt consumers to discourage others from using the brand."
Now the researchers hope to investigate how perceptions about brand authenticity influence buying decisions.
"If inferences about authenticity lead to judgments that products are higher quality, then people may be more willing to buy products and also pay more for them," Cinelli added.