Are You Providing An Authentic Experience For Your Customers?

Acording to Joseph Pine, co-author of The Experience Economy, if you want to differentiate yourself from others and thrive in today’s marketplace you have to create a unique and authentic experience for your customers. Providing quality goods and services is no longer enough to ensure long-term customer loyalty.

In his TED talk, “What Customers Want,” Pine explains that the desire for authenticity has become the basis for customer decision making, what makes an experience authentic for a customer, and the two things you can do to make your company more authentic.

The Old Way Doesn’t Work Anymore

According to Pine, if you still think that you can capture market share with quality goods and services alone, you are fighting a losing battle. Your goods and services are being treated like commodities where the only thing that is important to the customer is price, price, and price. The new level of economic value for the customer is authentic experience.

What Is Authentic Experience?

An authentic experience is something unique to your business. According to Pine, think of boutique hotels in Las Vegas, drinking wine, going on a journey, or watching a TED talk. Each of these activities is an example of a unique and authentic experience that is different than what the competition provides.

For an example a little more familiar to your daily life, think of the last time you went to a new restaurant and read the menu descriptions. You might have read how the food was sourced, perused lists of unique ingredients, learned how the restaurant contributed to charity, or the biography of the chef and his culinary philosophy, and recall how this left you with the impression you were getting something special. That’s authentic.

How Do You Render Authenticity?

In order to render an authentic experience, you have to know who you are as a business. Not only do you need to know what you do and why you do it, but you also have to deliver your experience in a consistent and reliable manner. According to Pine, this means you have to do two things: be true to yourself and be what you say are to others.

Be True to Yourself

Being true to yourself means your company must reliably act in ways that are consistent with your established ethos. Pine explained that a few years ago Disney was an example of failure to be true to yourself.

Disney, which at its core was founded as a family company, providing family entertainment, acted contrary to its ethos when it bought ABC and Miramax, both of which were well known for their racy, more adult entertainment themes. By Disney acting contrary to who they were as a company, they caused confusion for their customer base.

Be What You Say You Are To Others

The second part of authenticity is how your company projects itself to the customers. Making claims that are not corroborated by reality is not very authentic. According to Pine, you need look no further than the advertising done by airlines, hotels, and hospitals to find a disconnect between what is promised and what actually happens. Companies who give an inauthentic image are perceived as fake.

You Need to Provide Spaces to be Authentic

To provide an authentic experience, Pine suggests your company must provide a space where customers can experience who you really are. He cites Starbucks as an example of a company that does not advertise who it is, so the only way customers can experience Starbucks is through the authentic experience of coming to the store. This, Pine suggests, allows Starbucks to charge so much for their products since customers are really purchasing an authentic experience and not just a cup of coffee.

Pine’s 3 Rules for Authenticity

Lastly, Pine suggests if you really want to be authentic and provide an authentic customer experience you must never deviate from these three rules:

  1. Don’t say you’re authentic unless you really are authentic.
  2. It’s easier to be authentic if you don’t say you’re authentic.
  3. If you say you’re authentic, you better be authentic.


For more information on Joe Pine or to book him for your next event, contact us at

Kyle Crocco is the Marketing Coordinator at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau. His career has taken him from authoring the Heroes, Inc series., to living and teaching abroad in France and China, to completing his Ph.D. in Education at the University of California-Santa Barbara.