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Being Authentic

Posted by: Diane Brady on October 17, 2007

Authenticity is all the rage these days. Skeptical consumers can allegedly sniff a fake from miles away, and they punish those that don’t live up to their claims. Now, consultants James Gilmore and Joe Pine have a new book out on the subject.

So how do you go about delivering the real thing, so to speak? Well, first you understand what the authors call the five “genres” of authenticity — commodities (ie. largely untouched by human hands), original goods (everyone knows you developed it first), exceptional service (someone shows they actually care), referential experiences (longstanding traditions like drinking beer in England or tea in China) and influential transformations (those that seek out higher goals like improving the planet) … Then, of course, you be true to yourself and honest to customers.

It’s a tough bar to clear, and obviously not easy to execute based on the concepts in a book. But authenticity is likely to be a growing mantra of companies that face cheap competition from overseas, not to mention consumers who increasingly feel free to flit about from brand to brand.

Reader Comments

Brandon W

October 17, 2007 10:45 AM

This smells like another management fad. Let's face it, customers pay for overall value; provide a good value at the price the market dictates and you'll be successful. Beyond the function of the product, its quality, convenience, and prestige contribute to its value. Everything in this concept of "authenticity" can be associated with those aspects of value. Anyone with a basic understanding of economics and marketing ought to know this. We don't need more academic fluff telling us the same thing in a shiny new package; that shiny new package isn't providing us any value!

Bruce Temkin

October 22, 2007 7:07 AM

It seems odd to think about "authenticity" as a strategy. To me, it's an operating principle. I've written about this in my blog:

"Customer Experience Matters" (

If youre interested, take a look at these posts: "Firms Need Some Soul Searching," "Lessons Learned From The Streets Of New York: Keep It Real," and "Don't Let Profits Replace Purpose."

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