In the book, Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want, authors James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II point out that consumers want authenticity. As a result, advertisers fall over themselves to let customers know that their product is real.
How do they do it? By liberally sprinkling the word real throughout their ad copy. (Notice that in most cases, the use of the word real is redundant.)
But does the mere fact that an advertiser proclaims a product to be real translate into customer confidence and increased sales?
…when potential customers encounter advertising or packaging copy that proclaims the authenticity of an offering or the business that offers it—they head the other way. The very act of saying some thing is authentic immediately leads consumers to doubt said authenticity. (p.42)
Let’s examine the headline in this ad for Minute Maid Lemonade:
starts with real lemons.
Real refreshment? What’s real refreshment? Is there such a thing as fake refreshment? They mean refreshment.
We learn that real refreshment starts with real lemons. Not just lemons, mind you, and certainly not those fake lemons you see see in the grocery store, sitting smugly in the produce section, mocking you for not knowing the difference between them and their real cousins. Fake lemons know you can’t tell the difference. Minute Maid knows this, too. That’s why they helpfully let you know their lemons are real.
As if this wasn’t enough to reassure us that Minute Maid is authentic, the copy goes on to say:
With the delicious taste of real fruit, it’s easy to see why Minute Maid is America’s favorite lemonade…
Ok, I’m not making this up. As I’m writing this, I have iTunes playing. It’s set to shuffle. The song that just came on: It’s Real by John Lennon.
John Lennon knows.