The idea, says Neil Crofts of the Authentic Business consultancy, is to make a living 'by just being yourself'. Reject the phoney, embrace the real. Authenticity will win its own rewards. Some firms - Innocent smoothies, Yeo Valley yoghurts, Cafedirect - make a virtue of their pure and simple approach, rejecting fancy marketing and favouring a 'nothing up our sleeves' philosophy. No tricks, no gloss: they just are.
Where did it come from? The Romantics were worried that industrialisation - those dark satanic mills - would crush the authentic human spirit. Wordsworth wrote about the oppressive 'getting and spending' of modern life in the 'hot prison of the present'. In the 19th century, Danish philosopher Kierkegaard explored what it meant to lead an authentic life, paving the way for existentialists such as Sartre and Camus. All these great minds asked: how can we remain true to ourselves and our values in a noisy, grabbing world? 'Little we see in nature that is ours,' Wordsworth wrote. Are we doomed to be crushed by all that's fake and trashy?
Where's it going? The rejection of GM technology and the boom in organic food indicate a growing desire for a more natural existence. We've had enough of spin and deceit. Our once 'pretty straight' PM is now sneeringly called 'phoney Tony'. Everyone has lied to us, and now we want to keep it real. Smart companies are trying to drop the PR and reveal themselves as ordinary people doing an honest, decent job. Authenticity is the pure breath of fresh air that everyone craves right now. And, of course, once you can fake authenticity, you've got it made.
Fad quotient (out of 10) Eight - honestly.