ORLANDO, FL: Brands seeking to draw on authenticity in attracting consumers should consider everything from their history and manufacturing locations through to whether they are “hedonic” or “utilitarian” in nature.

George Newman, Associate Professor/Marketing and Management at the Yale School of Management, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) Masters of Marketing Conference.

And for brands, he offered, “one key way in which consumers think about authenticity is through connection.” (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Yale research examines authenticity as a brand driver.)

An illustrative example: Louis Vuitton makes bags in Paris and in San Dimas, California. And, even though the designs, the process of creation and the final products are virtually identical, different consumer perceptions result.

“We had people telling us, ‘I’d pay a lot more for the one that’s actually from Paris, from the original manufacturing location,’” Newman said.

To further understand authenticity, Newman’s team considered three potential locations making Levi’s jeans: the original factory in San Francisco, another plant in the same city, and an overseas manufacturing hub.

“What we found is that … there was a big drop-off in the amount that people were willing to pay for the jeans when they’re made overseas. But that also extended to jeans that were made in the same location, but not as part of the original factory,” he said.

An additional kind of authenticity tracked back to history. Newman’s team studied eBay auctions for each copy of the Beatles’ “White Album” released in 1968, all of which carried a serial number, from “1” to “3,000,000”.

Even though the production process was consistent and the packaging – apart from the number – was identical, “We found, very robustly, that consumers and collectors have a strong preference for the early serial numbers,” he said.

“That seems to be connected to this idea that these earlier number items are somewhat closer to the ‘essence’ of the Beatles. These objects that were made earlier in time contain some special quality that later objects do not.”

A broader finding of the research was that certain types of products elicit different responses. “Products that are more ‘utilitarian’, rather than ‘hedonic’, tend to not be as sensitive to these types of consideration,” Newman said.

Sourced from WARC