Sustainability and the authentic experience: harnessing brand heritage: a study from Japan

Babak Taheri, Thomas Farrington, Ross Curran, Kevin O’Gorman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
580 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the influence of the formative brand heritage construct on perceived authenticity at repaired /reconstructed heritage sites, understood in relation to the Japanese practice of kintsugi (金継ぎ), thereby extending Kolar and Zabkar’s consumer-based model of authenticity. It notes that variations of kintsugi occur in architectural heritage conservation worldwide. We establish relationships between brand heritage, cultural motivations, perceptions of authenticity, relational value, and consumer commitment, based on questioning 768 visitors to repaired and reconstructed Japanese heritage sites. Analysis using PLS found consumer preconceptions of brand heritage stimulating increased perceptions of authenticity at sites of limited historical provenance, thereby increasing visitor commitment to visiting. Heritage managers should use marketing strategies that effectively communicate a site’s brand heritage prior to, during, and after the tourist experience. Even where the material components of the site are entirely reconstructed, this can lead to relational value, and improved consumer commitment. In sustainability terms, holistic brand marketing can increase site revenue, help conservation maintenance and, by increasing repeat visits, reduce footfall damage at other ‘unreconstructed’ sites. Practical implications include better artefact and information presentation, ensuring synergy between site experiences and its purported values, especially through tour guide narratives and interpretation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-67
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number1
Early online date11 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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