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Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want 1st Edition

28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1591391456
ISBN-10: 1591391458
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This eye-opening but muddled volume tells companies to remain true to self or, at least, to appear genuine, arguing that in a world increasingly filled with deliberately and sensationally staged experiences... consumers choose to buy or not buy based on how real they perceive an offering to be. Everything that forms a company's identity—from its name and practices to its product details—affects consumers' perceptions of its authenticity. Juggling philosophical concepts, in-depth case studies and ad slogans, Gilmore and Pine (The Experience Economy) run into trouble with a chapter called Fake, Fake, It's All Fake, which eviscerates the entire idea of authenticity: Despite claims of 'real' and 'authentic' in product packaging, nothing from businesses is really authentic. Everything is artificial, manmade, fake. The argument is unexpected and perhaps brilliant—yet rather confusing, since most of Authenticity argues that businesses should strive to not only appear authentic but to be so. The book's bullet points, charts and matrices add to the tangle, as the authors' early advice (your business offerings must get real) becomes a demand for furrowed-brow soul-searching. Still, the prose is snappy and conversational, and the book is densely packed with insights and provocations, and may inspire some executives to consider how consumers see their company. (Nov.)
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About the Author

James Gilmore and Joseph Pine are co-founders of Strategic Horizons LLP, a 'thinking studio' that combines the best of consulting firms, think tanks, and acting workshops to help companies design all-new say of adding value to their economic offerings. Together they authored the bestseller, The Experience Economy, and edited Marketing of One and Pine himself wrote Mass Customization.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (September 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591391458
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591391456
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the latest in a series of several books (notably The Experience Economy: Work is Theater and Every Business a Stage and Markets of One: Creating Customer-Unique Value through Mass Customization) in which James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine focus on what Peter Drucker once identified as one of the greatest challenges any business faces: How to get and then keep profitable customers? Their thesis in this latest volume is that marketers need to address the problem of managing "the perceptions of real or fake held by the consumer's of [an] enterprise's output - because people increasingly make purchase decisions based on how real or fake they perceive offerings. These perceptions flow directly from how well any particular offering conforms to a customer's self-image."

In this volume, Gilmore and Pine examine "the authenticity of economic offerings, not the authenticity of individuals in personal relationships, something people also greatly desire but the subject of many other tomes." They cite two exemplars in particular - Disney and Starbucks - because no company "has more affected our collective view of what is real and what is not" than has Disney. As for Starbucks, no other company "more explicitly manages its perception of authenticity, making direct appeals to authenticity in every way" Gilmore and Pine define this new discipline.

Here are some of the specific issues they address with rigor and eloquence:

1. The appeal of "real"
2. The drivers of the new consumer sensibility
3. Three axioms of authenticity
4. Five genres of authenticity
5. Two "time-honored standards" of authenticity
6. Ten elements of authenticity
7. How to be what you say you are
8. How to continue to be "true to self"
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By H. R. Van Loo on August 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In their 1999 best seller `The Experience Economy' the authors, Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, described the shift in the economy from mining raw materials to the production of goods, to delivering services, to setting the scene for leisure experiences. Despite all the praise given to this book, there was nagging feeling: the American examples presented by the authors, such as Disney and Las Vegas, really did not work as authentic experiences for Europeans. This resulted in negatively equating The Experience Economy with facile, superficial and passive amusement in a fun-oriented society resembling a children's party. In their subsequent book, which recently appeared, `Authenticity - What consumers really want' it is clear that the authors have taken this criticism to heart. In their new book they claim that consumers have had enough of the common pre-set-scene products of the experience industry. Short-term stimuli and superficial must make way for experiences promising a long term and constant change. `Authenticity' is the new catchword. Anything we buy is increasingly adorned with adjectives like `real', `natural', `original' or `honest'. In fact, it is not only products that are measured to the degree to which they are authentic. `Authentic leadership' is nowadays also demanded of board members and managers. The recent American primary elections were not so much about content, but were more about perceptions of the candidates' authenticity. Hillary's tears - how real were they? And Obama's promises - will he realize them?

According to Gilmore and Pine this quest for authenticity did not appear from thin air, but came about as a result of three interwoven social developments. The first one has to do with the development of the experience economy itself.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kim C. Korn on November 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This truly is a tour de force that deserves the potent descriptors of "groundbreaking" and "defining a management discipline."

This may be a challenging read, not due to the writing per se, but because of the newness and depth of the subject. Gilmore and Pine's take on authenticity is novel enough that the reader may not have the mental hooks in their management theory framework to immediately hang the new ideas. But this is exactly what I would expect from the definition of a new management discipline.

The book builds the case for authenticity as a dominate consumer sensibility. From there, the construct framing the realness and fakeness of economic offerings forms the foundation for all that follows. Rendering authenticity takes authenticity out of the realm of ambiguity and into the realm of explicit definition. This process addresses the essence of business-organization identity and the underpinnings of the value of its offerings. The author's approach to rendering authenticity is a uniquely substantive approach to 1) exploring and defining your identity, what it is "you will be true to", 2) defining your total offering "to be what it says it is," and 3) the possibility of joining these two together for greater synergy, forming a more powerful authentic offering.

The book culminates with an approach to acting into the future. This approach employs the authenticity framework and the juxtaposition process used to understand and render authenticity, but extends it to explore an unlimited number of dimensions to spur the creation of novel value.

This book is a `must read' for those responsible for strategy and creating unique value in businesses of all types.
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