The reason people chose a branded product that they recognise against one that may look the same is because they have trust in it. It has delivered something previously, they have had  a positive experience or it has been recommended by someone they feel to be authentic. In today’s world where people can make things that in essence look very similar, something that looks the same, may not be as good as it appears to be.

Authenticity doesn’t just apply to products, it also applies to people too. Many people pretend to be something they’re not. Act happy when they’re sad, attempt to look smarter than they really are, or push upon others their self-proclaimed authenticity. It’s only when that person is put under pressure that their true self comes out. If someone’s pretending to be something they’re not, you might not get what you expect from them when the heat is on. Which is quite useful in business as we frequently encounter pressurised situations that soon reveal those who are not authentic. 

 A great euphemism for this is white goods, washing machines specifically. When standing together, cosmetically there’s not much difference between them. It’s how they perform that differentiates them. However, just because a washing machine breaks down, it doesn’t mean a consumer will never buy that brand again. Yes, it may make them temporarily lose confidence in the product and possibly the brand but if the care and support is provided to get things working again, confidence can be restored, along with sentiment to the brand. Because although it’s frustrating, things do go wrong and that leads to a brand being put under pressure. How that brand reacts to the pressure is when its true self comes out and that can be the lasting impression for a consumer. When the stuff hits the fan, how did they react? If it’s good, you’ll have confidence that brand looked after you and research has shown, it is likely to lead to repeat custom and enhanced brand loyalty.

 As a group, Pendragon sells hundreds of thousands of cars every year. Sometimes they go wrong. We never stop striving to ensure when the pressure is on, we continue to provide a great experience. Granted it may not happen every time but I feel we are taking steps to ensure it happens more often than not. As well as surveying every customer with our own customer satisfaction survey when we deliver a product or service, last year we added TrustPilot to this to show we’re willing to put ourselves and our service promise out there in the public domain. We now encourage every customer to leave a review on this public website and our main businesses Stratstone and Evans Halshaw now have thousands of reviews left by customers with average scores of 8 out of ten, among the highest in the industry.

No one likes to think of themselves as not authentic and as CEO I want every customer we deal with to have an experience that leaves a lasting positive impression, good enough for them to spread the word. Word of mouth these days comes on a far greater scale thanks to our connected society so we hope subscribing to a public review system like Trustpilot speaks volumes about how important authentic recommendations are to our business. Although I’m an optimist, I’m also a realist and recognise this won’t happen all the time but only by listening to bad experiences can we try and makes changes to improve things. It’s a work in progress but one that’s important to us and many other brands. Which other brands do you feel are authentic?