The Cost of Authenticity

 Via Boston Public Library

Via Boston Public Library

Why do we care about authenticity?

There’s an interesting story in the New York Times "Quenching Consumers’ Thirst for ‘Authentic’ Brands" that explores this question, and also, how and why brands are going to such lengths to make sure consumers know they’re authentic. 

Authenticity is kind of a buzzword that’s used a lot on this blog and elsewhere when it comes to manufacturing and branding. It’s a word that’s also probably getting over-used, and like “maker,” it’s general enough to be used by just about any company or person. 

So what makes a company authentic? Good rule of thumb: If you can actually communicate in some way with someone involved in the production of a product...it’s probably pretty authentic. 

That’s not too say big companies can’t be authentic or have heritage. Example, I just sent my Red Wing boots back to Red Wing Minnesota to be resoled. I called the company’s customer service line and got hooked right into the repairs department, where I spoke with a guy who left the workbench to check on my order. I could hear boot repair workshop sounds in the background.  

What I fear is that “authenticity” is somehow beginning to equal luxury. It doesn’t and it shouldn’t. Sure, authentic handmade loafers are going to command a high dollar because of the materials and skill set needed to make them. And that’s legit. But that doesn’t mean you should have always to pay a premium for authenticity. Whether it’s rum, chocolate, or surf wax, you don’t necessarily have to spend more for a well-made “authentic” product.