No cap: Striving for authenticity : LGBTQ images and Gen Z’s perception of fast fashion brand authenticity
Abstract: Background: Brands have started paying attention to brand authenticity since consumer demand for authenticity is increasing. Especially Gen Z is constantly seeking for authentic, inclusive, and diverse brands as they are the first generation to choose brands based on authenticity. Especially the LGBTQ community’s representation in advertising is often perceived as inauthentic and superficial. Since Gen Z is not only a big consumer of fast fashion but also the first to include fast fashion as part of their everyday life, the fast fashion industry is required to be more authentic in its use of LGBTQ in advertising. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore how Gen Z perceives LGBTQ images in fast fashion advertising and how this impacts brand authenticity. Method: For this study, an exploratory research design with a qualitative approach was applied. Using an abductive approach, existing literature was used as a basis to create the conceptual model of this study. Further, a fictional fast fashion brand including five advertisements were created and presented to twenty informants during semi-structured interviews to gain a more in-depth understanding of the research problem. Conclusion: The study found that Gen Z’s perceptions of LGBTQ images in fast fashion advertising can be classified into three categories: positive, neutral, and negative perceptions. Informants with a positive perception perceived the brand to be authentic whilst informants with a negative perception the opposite. Since informants with a neutral perception sometimes had similar perceptions as the informants with a positive or negative perception, no clear answer on their perception of brand authenticity can be given.
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