Can authenticity be built? Looking for factors that influence authentic brand activism


  • Antonella Cammarota University of Sannio
  • Francesca Avallone Department of Law, Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods (DEMM), University of Sannio, Benevento, Italy
  • Vittoria Marino Department of Law, Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods (DEMM), University of Sannio, Benevento, Italy
  • Riccardo Resciniti Department of Law, Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods (DEMM), University of Sannio, Benevento, Italy



Brand Activism, Authenticity, Consumer Perception, Social Media, Socio-political issues


Framing of the research. The study focuses on brand activism, a phenomenon attracting increasing attention from researchers and practitioners. The literature on brand activism has developed over the last five years and still has many gaps that should be filled.

Purpose of the paper. This research analyses consumers’ perceptions of Ben & Jerry’s to understand whether it is perceived as authentic and, if so, to identify feasible factors contributing to consumer-perceived authenticity of brand activism.

Methodology. We analysed the users’ comments on the American Instagram profile of Ben & Jerry’s by conducting a text network analysis to generate topical clusters (topic modelling) and identify the most influential keywords. Then, to address the research questions, sentiment analysis of users’ comments has been employed.

Results. Topic modelling resulting from the analysis shows some exciting word clusters that allow hypothesising how activism is a critical element of Ben & Jerry’s consumers’evaluation, becoming a topic of discussion at the same level as the brand’s products. In addition, sentiment analysis contributes important insights, confirming the crucial relevance of authenticity in brand activism strategies.

Research limitations. The study uses user comments on posts, considering them as declarations, not actions; hence, we need to determine if consumer actions will be consistent with boycott declarations.

Managerial implications. This study contributes to understanding whether the challenging condition of authenticity exists in a brand known to be an activist. Additionally, we identify potential elements that contributed to the perceived authenticity of brand activism based on the obtained results and the analysis of the company’s official website. Knowing consumers’ sentiments is essential for researchers and practitioners, as it is the basis for understanding how consumers perceive and evaluate brand activism.

The originality of the paper. Brand activism is a hot topic in literature. Insights from consumers’ perceptions are crucial to explain this phenomenon, useful in customer profiling and brand management, and address future research. Furthermore, it is essential to understand which factors can contribute to generating consumer-perceived authenticity in brand activism campaigns.


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