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Perceived Authenticity in Human-Branded Services

Andrea Lynn Matthews, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Authenticity is a cornerstone of modern marketing and a key driver of modern consumer behavior. While both individuals and products may be authentic, personal authenticity and product brand authenticity are conceptualized and measured differently in the literature. In a human branding context, a single service provider may exhibit high or low levels of personal authenticity and brand authenticity. There is little guidance in the academic literature, however, on the types of authenticity that are sought by consumers and the differential impact that different forms of perceived authenticity of an individual and his or her service brand have on consumer outcomes. This dissertation therefore first synthesizes the literature on authenticity in marketing to create a nine-dimensional (3x3) framework of perceived authenticity. Second, this dissertation reports the results of qualitative interviews of consumers and human branded service providers to understand which types of perceived authenticity are relevant in a human branded service context. Indexical authenticity of the provider and of the brand were both identified as important drivers of consumer trust. Five themes emerged from the data to describe how consumers perceived authenticity in service providers, namely, through providers’ 1) seeking understanding, 2) service-related actions, 3) emotions displayed, 4) personal disclosure, and 5) moral actions. Third, this dissertation tests in five experiments how personal and brand perceived authenticity affect consumer outcomes of human branded services. Personal and brand authenticity are found to separately positively impact consumer perceptions of service providers. These effects are mediated by perceptions of the provider and the brand, and moderated by communal and exchange relational norms. Overall, this dissertation makes contributions to theory on authenticity and branding and provides managerial insights to practitioners.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Matthews, Andrea Lynn, "Perceived Authenticity in Human-Branded Services" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10748931.