To be (family) or not to be (family): the familiness effect over brand authenticity posts on social media and consumer engagement relationship

Augusto Bargoni, Jacopo Ballerini, Demetris Vrontis, Alberto Ferraris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This paper aims to explore the impact of brand authenticity dimensions (i.e. aesthetic, symbolism, heritage, originality, quality commitment and virtue) on consumer engagement in the context of social media. This study answers to the need of scholars to understand consumer behaviour towards family and non-family firms’ brand authenticity constructs and for practitioners to find the correct levers to increase consumer engagement. Design/methodology/approach: Top 10 European family firms with a retrievable Facebook (FB) page from the Global Family Business Index have been selected. Then, the study analysed family firms’ social media consumer engagement versus their non-family business direct competitors on a sample of 21.664 FB posts over a four-year period, leveraging multi-group analysis. Findings: The results outline that three out of six brand authenticity dimensions posted on FB are statistically arousing more interactions respect to non-authenticity-related contents when posted by family firms. However, there are no statistically significant findings when brand authenticity content is posted by the non-family competitors. Practical implications: This research is helpful for practitioners and entrepreneurs who might want to strengthen their social media brand strategies. With this regard, the study provides insights on which elements of brand authenticity are perceived by consumers as more engaging and which levers to use when communicating the familiness of the company. Originality/value: To the best of authors’ knowledge, this is one of the earliest studies crosscutting the family business and brand authenticity literature streams to conduct an empirical analysis based on official FB data with a data set of over 20,000 observations. Moreover, this study assesses that not every dimension of the brand authenticity construct is relevant in the context of social media and that its effectiveness depends on the firms’ familiness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Product and Brand Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Brand authenticity
  • Brand management
  • Consumer engagement
  • Digital
  • Family firms
  • Social media


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