In his TED (2004) Talk ‘What Consumers Want’ Joseph Pine questioned a common premise that modern technology will be able to provide an effective shift from mass to unique authentic experiences between the customer and the brand. Pine does not agree with the supposition that such experiences can be inauthentic, pointing out innovative authenticity ideas that can become the ground for the brand to grow. The talk is surprising to watch in 2016 since it is innovative in retrospect, outlining modern and commonly known concepts at the time when social media only started to gain momentum.
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Pine does not agree with the misconception that authentic customer experience can bring the brand success as supported by the Forbes article written by Solomon (2015); it states that modern customers are able to differentiate between authentic and inauthentic experiences (para. 3).
However, the main point drawn from the Pine’s talk contradicts it – customer experience cannot be either authentic or not since it comes from the customer directly, it relates to what feelings the person felt. It can be considered a matter of a degree, but not kind (TED 2004). Such a principle can greatly affect how brands operate in relation to building strong connections with customers.
Since authenticity is a concept that usually drives the buying force, and, subsequently, the basis for the global economy, it is important to remember about a paradox that no business can supply an inauthentic experience, and no individual can go through such an experience (TED 2004). Thus, there can be no such thing as either authentic or inauthentic experience since all businesses are made by people.
The concept of authenticity or inauthenticity thus relates to the process of the buyer’s decision outlined by Kotler, Armstrong, Cunningham, and Trifts (2013) that stated that various factors (lifestyle, age, social class, etc.) could affect consumers’ behavior (p. 189). Thus, the following correlation can be drawn: if a customer is satisfied, then the experience is considered authentic; if not, then the experience is inauthentic. Furthermore, if the relationship between the consumer’s expectations and the perceived performance of a product or service is positive, then the experience can be considered authentic. However, the expectations of different customers rarely coincide precisely, since their buying decisions come from different sources. This means that identifying what is authentic and what is not is a matter of objectification.
The question of how the authenticity of customer experience can be rendered remains unanswered. However, Pine offers a principle for resolving the issue: a company should stay true to its principle at the same time by providing products or services that are what the company says they are.
Such a solution then yields a two-dimensional matrix, which then comes to the concept of authenticity. Thus, the largest mistake a company can make is to advertise itself as authentic when it’s not (TED 2004). The main lesson from the talk is the following: if a company disregards the concept of authenticity, it is much easier for it to be ‘really’ authentic.
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Kotler, P, Armstrong, G, Thrifts, V & Cunningham, P 2013, Principles of marketing, 9th edn, Pearson, Toronto, Canada.
Solomon, M 2015, An authentic customer experience builds brand success with millennials, boomers. Web.
TED 2004, Joseph Pine: What consumers want, video recording. Web.