Let Me Entertain You? The Importance of Authenticity in Online Customer Engagement

Anniek W. Eigenraam*, Jiska Eelen, Peeter W.J. Verlegh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Should all brands initiate online customer engagement activities to entertain consumers beyond informing them? This work presents the idea that (in)consistency between the nature of an engagement initiative (i.e., entertaining or informative) and the perception of the brand (i.e., warm versus competent) influences the extent to which consumers perceive the initiative to be authentic. This in turn influences consumers' evaluation of the initiative and the brand. The results show that entertaining initiatives are suited for warm brands, but backfire for competent brands, while informative initiatives are equally suited for both types of brands. These effects are driven by the perceived authenticity of the initiatives. The findings yield specific guidelines for managers about how to preserve the brand's essence in the online initiatives they launch to foster ongoing customer engagement. The effects were found in four experiments and one field study, generalizing across different online media platforms (i.e., Instagram, Facebook, brand website), products and services (i.e., shoes, groceries, and recipe deliveries), and samples (i.e., Mturk, Prolific, students).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-68
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Interactive Marketing
Early online date21 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Authenticity
  • Brand essence
  • Brand perception
  • Customer engagement
  • Digital marketing
  • Social media


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