The Authentic Activist: Examining the antecedents of the perceived authenticity of brand activism
Abstract: Purpose: The study aimed to investigate which antecedents affect consumers’ perception of the authenticity of brand activism. Methodology: The study followed a deductive approach. Thereby, hypotheses derived from the theory were quantitatively tested using structural equation modelling based on data collected from 305 participants in a web-based survey. Theory: The study was based on the idea that being perceived as authentic is about the perception of truth. Within brand activism, this is centred around the perception of how true-to-ideal and true-to-self the activism is. Drawing on cognitive and social psychology, Bayesian Models of Cognition, Persuasion Knowledge Theory, and Attribution Theory were used to deduct hypotheses. Thus, the perceptions of four antecedents were hypothesized to be positively related to the perception of the authenticity of brand activism, namely impact, uniqueness, heritage, and continuity. Findings: Results from the analysis showed a significant positive relationship between each of the antecedents and the perceived authenticity of brand activism. Thus, all four hypotheses were supported. Implications: Academically, this study contributes to the nascent research stream of brand activism by suggesting antecedents of consumers’ perceived authenticity of brand activism. Because of similar findings in studies about antecedents of authenticity in related domains and shared theoretical foundations, the study suggests that a cross-domain theory of perceived authenticity might be possible. Managerially, the findings suggest that improving consumers’ perception of the examined antecedents might help improve consumers’ perceptions of the authenticity of a brand’s activism.
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