Quest for authenticity

The consumer’s quest for authenticity could be said to be largely driven by the awareness of the increasingly inauthentic modern world. In such a time of global and uniform culture people look back to traditions and what they trust in order to gain a sense of ‘the real thing’, just as Baudrillard states, “In an attempt to compensate for the fading of the real, we make a fetish of the supposedly authentic” (Ward: 2003: p.74) It is commonly viewed that the past often serves as symbol of quality. It could be argued that this element is something that people perceive to be authentic as it delves back into the idea that authenticity stands for something that is genuine and trustworthy. Evoking a time period of traditional values where life was apparently better is a move that was also made by Wild and Wolf’s label ‘Ridley’s House of Novelties’ – a range of old-fashioned toys and games.

Unlike how ‘Soap and Glory’s’ retro packaging captures the past but still looks quite contemporary, Ridley’s uses time to show authenticity similarly to how Marcos does with location by staying true to a particular style, in this case replicating traditional games from the eras such as the 1950’s like yo-yo’s and marbles.

The themes of nostalgia and tradition are also heavily drawn upon here in the way the company has designed its retro packaging, for example figure 7 shows the exterior to be inspired by a 1950’s aesthetic. The faded, brown newspaper effect background along with the hand illustrative styled graphics have all been carried out to create an antiquated, vintage look, similar to figure 8 by Marx Toys in Mullocks Auction: online) that shows a genuine game from the 1950’s that was for auction. The fact that the packaging has a time worn style as if made to “look like it’s been in someone’s attic for a good couple of decades” (retrotogo, 2009: online) all attempts to give the impression that the product was made in that period, and can therefore claim to be authentic. However, we, the consumer, know full well of its mass produced origins, and yet we still invest in the products such as these, thus supporting Lewis’ questioning “why is it that the new consumer is so eager to possess and experience the authentic even when that authenticity has been painstakingly manufactured and is entirely ersatz?” (Lewis, Bridger: 2001: 28) Ridley’s approach of simulating a retro style packaging is in fact quite convincingly authentic, highlighted particularly in figure 9,  largely due to the time worn colour scheme and graphics generating a very dated appearance, all in a bid to look like it’s been plucked straight out of the 1950’s.


In conclusion, I have studied in depth two different examples of authenticity: time and location, looking at how packaging manufactures this, and analysing the brands ‘Marcos’ (Sarta de Chorizo Iberico) and ‘Soap and Glory’, and ‘Ridley’s House of Novelties’. I discovered them to have similarities and differences, for instance all the products employ traditional, historical elements that involve things done properly, with an emphasis on high quality. On the other hand, the distinctions between them fall in the way that the retro branding uses the past to encourage an emotional connection that is often susceptible to a certain amount of idealisation – which is also perhaps a weakness in its authenticity. Another difference is how location is more concerned with actually recreating the real, genuine article that is true to that place, and in doing so gives it exclusivity. In my opinion, the ‘Marcos’ brand’s packaging, although less aesthetically compelling is the closest to appearing authentic due to its utmost effort to source and produce the pork meat from Spain and in the traditional, artisanal way. All this is reflected in the price, however I have found it to be the most authentic food product on a supermarket shelf. Whereas ‘Soap and Glory’ and ‘Ridley’s House of Novelties’ packaging is more visually entertaining, overall they come across as less authentic perhaps because of the more light-hearted approach in order to reflect the brand. I found all the companies to be equally interesting and insightful in terms of how they create authenticity, and I think both will remain effective in consumer culture, as long as “at the heart of the new consumer lies a desire for authenticity”






February 6, 2018


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