Real or Fake? The Thin Line Between Consumers’ Perceived Brand Authenticity and Scepticism
Sammanfattning: Thesis Purpose: The aim of this study is to gain a nuanced understanding of consumers’ perceived authenticity of incumbent and challenger brands in the cosmetics industry. To examine the phenomenon, four brands from two different sectors within the cosmetics industry are investigated. While Maybelline New York and Fenty Beauty represent the make-up market, Gillette Venus and Estrid cover the razor market. Theoretical Perspective: To analyse our findings, two existing frameworks tackling brand authenticity in regard to brand activism were consulted: (1) the perceived brand authenticity framework by Morhart et al.(2015), and (2) the woke activism authenticity framework by Mirzaei, Wilkie and Siuki (2022). Methodology: To reach the objective of the study, an abductive approach was adopted, and qualitative data was gathered. Hence, 14 semi-structured interviews were conducted to gain a deeper understanding of consumers’ perceptions of the authenticity of brands that engage in socio-political activism. Main Findings & Theoretical Contributions: Most of our findings were supported by existing literature. They indicate that a brand’s motivation for engagement in activist practices and reason for existence, the time of its market entry and consumers’ previous associations are of great importance, being a novel contribution to theory. Further, the alignment between a brand’s core values and its activist practices plays a vital role, which is confirmed by past academia. Finally, consumers’ representation by and identification with a brand influences their perceived authenticity. This aspect is in line with previous research, while simultaneously extending it. Practical Implications: The study provides managers and marketers with valuable insights into what influences consumers’ perceived brand authenticity. When engaging in socio-political activism, practitioners need to be aware of the risk of pushing the limit. Hence, finding the golden middle is key to avoiding consumer scepticism.
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