Influencer Marketing Impact on Consumer Behaviour

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Outline of the Topic

The emergence and the rapid development of information-communication technologies have been strongly associated with the rising need for marketers to develop new promotional strategies to maintain high levels of competitiveness. The Internet is one of the most influential media that exists on a global scale and is viewed as one of the dominant contributors to the process of globalization (Goryakin, Lobstein, James and Suhrcke, 2015). Because of this, the business environment has become highly competitive, and, from a global point of view, the world is becoming a potential market. The potential of attracting consumers through the digital market is incomparable with traditional methods. As advertisers have often used celebrities as a strategy for increasing brand perception and consciousness, digital marketing has used the same concept but elevated it to new horizons.

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An influencer is defined as an individual who has a significant following on social media and is paid by marketers in order to reach the desired audience coverage and increase spending behaviors (Glucksman, 2017). Influencers on social media are independent endorsers who use a broad range of digital channels to interact with their audiences (Freberg, Graham, McGaughey and Freberg, 2011). Popular social media channels that influencers use include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, or TikTok (Kadekova and Holiencinova, 2018). Thus, influencer advertising has become an increasingly present form of advertising in today’s highly saturated environment. The character, skills, and knowledge are what the target online audiences value in influencers and companies use this value to make their products or services more attractive (Odhiambo, 2012). With platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, consumers get highly engaged in their interactions with brands and can leave comments about their feedback on products as well as share recommendations with others (Appel, Grewal, Hadi, and Stephen, 2020; Hou, 2018). Influences provide a positive outlet for such interactions because they can represent the interests of consumers and share their opinions online.

It is crucial to study the topic of influencer marketing because the subject is relatively new, which means that available studies are also recent. Influencers marketing can take a variety of forms depending on the promotion strategies implemented by companies that pay for them, which means that studies will also differ in findings (Biaudet, 2017). While some marketers use influencer marketing as means for establishing their credibility in relevant industries, others want to create social conversations about brands in order to drive sales (Djafarova and Rushworth, 2017). Thus, the value that influencers help create can be measured differently, which establishes broad opportunities for research and discovering new issues that could serve as subjects in further studies.

Considering the increased role of digital solutions in people’s everyday life, the aim of this literature analysis is to explore and analyze literature on the topic of influencer marketing and its influence on brand recognition, popularity, and return on investment (ROI) (Lisichkova and Othman, 2017). When conducting a review of relevant literature on the chosen topic, it is expected to gain an understanding of influencers’ part in promoting a brand. In addition, the literature review may reveal considerations of influencer marketing within different industries, such as fashion, beauty products, technologies and gadgets, and more. Consumers are expected to have will have various interactions and expectations regarding influencers advertising products or services, and it is important to evaluate the nature of such interactions and their differences.

Critical Reflection and Methods

A literature review is an analysis strategy that represents a positive way of synthesizing research findings in order to show evidence on a meta-level as well as uncover ideas in which more exploration is needed (Snyder, 2019). Among other methodology strategies, literature reviews are important for such reasons as determining the extent to which a study arear shows interpretable patterns and trends, identifying what has already been written on a topic, aggregating relevant empirical findings regarding a narrowed research question, as well as identifying questions for further research (Pare, Trudel, Jaana and Kitsiou, 2015).

This paper uses the narrative literature review strategy to explore how influencer marketing influences consumer behavior. As a first step in the review, the objective of finding 40 relevant and up-to-date scholarly sources. The literature search was conducted digitally using such databases as Google Scholar, PsycInfo (APA), ProQuest Research Library, ResearchGate, PubMed, ScienceDirect, Taylor & Francis Online, and SpringerLink. The search also included online articles published in reputable online journals. Using such keywords as influencer marketing, influencer advertising, social media advertising, social media consumer behavior, online consumer behavior, a search of the literature was conducted. The articles included in the review were peer-reviewed, published in reputable sources, and published not longer than ten years ago. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies were included in the review.

Literature Review

This narrative literature review aims to develop key themes contributing to the understanding of how influencer marketing contributes to purchasing behaviors. Through an overview and analysis of relevant literature, it is possible to determine the scope of current research on the issue.

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Influencer Marketing as a Promotional Strategy

The first theme traced in the review of literature pertains to the use of influencers as a promotional strategy form in the digital world. It emerged as an ongoing theme that researchers mentioned in their studies, and influencer marketing is a unique tool in which companies have invested. What makes influencers unique in the global marketing sphere, they are not merely tools for advertising but rather builders of assets of social relationships that brands can use to achieve their marketing objectives (Hund, 2019). Influencers represent a relatively current phenomenon as there has been a dramatic increase in their work with marketing and PR organizations over the past several years (Holt, 2016). Most influencers who have an online presence are differentiated into such categories as celebrities, bloggers, industry experts, micro-influencers, and thought leaders (Kadekova and Holiencinova, 2018).

The majority of influencer advertising takes place on social media with the help of micro-influencers and bloggers (Bognar, Puljic, and Kadezabek, 2019). Brands have also gained value from industry professionals and the leaders of thought, such as journalists or designers, and they can be considered as influencers because of their expertise and experience (Casalo, Flavian, and Ibanez-Sanchez, 2020). Celebrities are original influencers and have always been used by brands for their marketing campaigns. However, their role as influencers is decreasing because not all of them have a strong social media presence and do not have relationships with audiences that trust their opinions (Kadekova and Holiencinova, 2018).

The management of many companies has stated that the average spending on social media advertising through influencers amounts to around 12% of their overall marketing budgets (Vyatkina, 2020). Within the next several years, it is expected that the spending will increase to reach 71%, which points to the increased value that marketers find in influencer marketing campaigns. According to Kapitan and Silvera (2016), up to 90% of marketers assume that people’s trust and loyalty to a certain brand is strongly associated with social media influencers who use their impact on pushing toward a purchase. In addition, the involvement of micro-influencers in brand or product promotion is among the top strategies that marketing professionals use in their campaigns (Kapitan and Silvera, 2016). According to Vyatkina (2020), around 46% of marketers who work in the beauty or fashion industry have found that micro-influencers with ten thousand to a hundred thousand followers guarantee much more profit compared to other types of personalities who post on social media. The influencer market provides an ROI that exceeds other marketing forms by 11 times (Vyatkina, 2020). Because of the capability of influencers to get their followers interested in a particular product or service, consumers tend to buy more goods as a result of influencer marketing than other tools.

Influencer marketing is a comprehensive process of choosing and using individuals that can have a positive impact on enabling potential consumer behaviors within the target customer demographic (Sudha and Sheena, 2017). It is used in brand campaigns to increase customer engagement, sales, and reach, and is an extension of the traditional word-of-mouth marketing concept that integrates the social context of advertisement in a more professional way (Sudha and Sheena, 2017). Word-of-mouth marketing is a process of information sharing from one consumer to another through various media, both digital interactions and face-to-face contacts (Kostic, Ivanovic, and Okanovic, 2018). Influencer marketing uses the strengths of the word-of-mouth strategy by forming relationships that can be helpful for companies to widen their audiences and turn them into recurrent customers with the aid of authenticity and trust (Berne-Manero and Marzo-Navarro, 2020).

Influencer marketing has been differentiated into two sub-categories, such as earned influencer marketing and paid influencer marketing. On the one hand, earned influencer marketing implies the organic acquisition of loyal audiences and advocates for a brand (Forbes, 2016). It is carried out through pre-existing or unpaid relationships between companies and influencers to create content that is being promoted by influencers in order to further their professional and social growth (Sudha and Sheena, 2017). It is expected that influencers will advertise products or services they like personally without being reimbursed for doing so (Forbes, 2016). On the other hand, paid influences marketing implies paying influences for promoting the products or services that a company sells. Such a form of advertising can take different forms, such as sponsorships, advertising of pre-roll, and can emerge at any point in the contents (Sudha and Sheena, 2017). Depending on the reach of an influencer, the amount of money that they are being paid will vary.

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Influencer marketing has been shown to derive value from such sources as reach, relevance, and resonance. Reach is linked to the measure of the size of the audience that an influencer has acquired online (De Veirman, Cauberghe, and Hudders, 2017). Thus, beyond having the characteristics that have the potential of driving action on the part of their followers, influencers are expected to have an above-average follower number in a relevant market. With the help of their social channels and other media forms, influencers can reach millions of potential consumers, which is valuable for businesses that want to use such audiences to gain profit (De Veirman et al., 2017). In influencer marketing, relevance represents a measure of the degree of individuals’ relevance to followers or readers. Because of this, influencers are expected to avoid promoting either products or services of brands that are not relevant to their online images (De Veirman et al., 2017). The production of original and effective content is what influencers should do when working on a marketing strategy with brands (Berthon, Pitt, Plangger and Shapiro, 2012). Finally, resonance is associated with the broad range of activities an influencer creates for a brand when publishing content. An influencer with high levels of resonance is someone who creates content online that will engage audiences in a discussion about a product or service (Audrezet, Moulard, and de Kerviler, 2018). The tendency to engage with the content that influencers post online is linked to the positive qualities of the content that resonates with followers and fans. Influencers who have managed to create an environment with significant relationships with their followers have gained trust in their expertise on the part of followers.

Table 1: Influencer Marketing as a Promotional Strategy

Reference Content Research Methods Key results
Kadekova and Holiencinova (2018). Exploring influencer marketing as a phenomenon of new virtual opportunities. Quantitative, questionnaire. Influencers who use social media are useful due to building close relationships with their audiences.
Hund (2019). Studying how influencers construct and commodify authenticity. Qualitative, interviews, observation, literature review. Influencers are assets of social relationships that brands can use to achieve their marketing objectives.
Casalo, Flavian and Ibanez-Sanchez (2020). Exploring antecedents and consequences of opinion leadership. Quantitative, questionnaire. Leaders of thought, such as journalists or designers, and they can be considered as influencers because of their expertise and experience.
Sudha and Sheena (2017) Exploring the use of influencer marketing in the fashion industry. Quantitative, survey. Influencer advertising can take different forms, such as sponsorships, advertising of pre-roll, and can emerge at any point in the contents.
De Veirman, Cauberghe and Hudders (2017) Reviewing future research directions regarding influencer marketing. Qualitative, literature review. Influencer marketing has been shown to derive value from such sources as reach, relevance, and resonance.
Berthon, Pitt, Plangger and Shapiro (2012) Studying implications for international marketing due to changing consumer trends. Qualitative, literature review. The production of original and effective content is what influencers should do when working on a marketing strategy with brands.
Audrezet, Moulard and de Kerviler (2018) Exploring authenticity as a tool for attracting audiences through influencers. Qualitative, participant interviews. An influencer with high levels of resonance is someone who creates content online that will engage audiences in a discussion about a product or service.
Kapitan and Silvera (2016). Studying how attributions drive endorser effectiveness. Qualitative, literature review. Up to 90% of marketers assume that people’s trust and loyalty to a certain brand is strongly associated with social media influencers who use their impact on pushing toward a purchase.
Vyatkina (2020). Exploring the role of influencer marketing in the global economy. Qualitative, literature review. The influencer market provides an ROI that exceeds other marketing forms by 11 times.

Consumer behavior as Indicator of Marketing Success

Researchers have identified the theme of consumer behaviors as indicators of the way in which marketing campaigns influence the purchasing decisions of the population. Thus, as a marketing tool, the success or failure of influencer marketing will be determined by consumer behaviors. Consumer behavior refers to the study of the steps taken for choosing, purchasing, using, or disposing of specific products or services to satisfy individuals’ or groups’ needs and desires (Lautiainen, 2015). A consumer is a person that has expressed his or her willingness to purchase products or services from a company. Consumer behavior incorporates a range of ideas from different sciences such as economics, psychology, and biology due to the wide variety of aspects and factors that influence purchasing decisions (Cherubino et al., 2019). Understanding consumer behavior is essential in the influencer marketing context as there is a need to discover how the advertisements should be presented to generate the most notable impact on consumers.

According to the latest research on consumer behaviors, there are internal, purchase process, external, and miscellaneous factors that could encourage individuals to buy products or services (Peighambari, Sattari, Kordestani, and Oghazi, 2016). Within the internal perspective, consumers’ attitudes, personality, and lifestyle factors play a role in purchasing behaviors while in the internal perspective, opinion leaders, socialization, and culture can contribute to such behaviors (Peighambari et al., 2016). For instance, from the external perspective, according to Shavitt and Cho (2016), cultural factors patterns influence the way in which consumers will behave in terms of responding to the brands in the marketplace, service providers, and the needs of each other. Depending on the culture, collective or individual, consumer behaviors will range based on levels of value given to personal status or competition (Shavitt and Cho, 2016). From the internal perspective, lifestyle factors contribute to purchasing behaviors because they represent certain activities and expectations that customers have for products or services have (Krishnan, 2011). The products are seen as building blocks of individuals’ lifestyles, and their purchase is seen as a potentially positive contribution to such lifestyles. These findings are supported by Mohiuddin (2018) who suggested that lifestyles are demonstrations of customers’ self-concepts that can fabricate the wants and desires that ultimately influence the final decision of each consumer.

Table 2: Consumer behavior as Indicator of Marketing Success

Reference Content Research Methods Key results
Lautiainen (2015). Studying factors affecting consumers’ buying decisions. Quantitative, survey. Consumer behavior refers to the study of the steps taken for choosing, purchasing, using, or disposing of specific products or services to satisfy individuals’ or groups’ needs and desires.
Cherubino et al. (2019). Studying consumer behaviors through the neurophysiological perspective. Qualitative, literature review. Consumer behavior incorporates a range of ideas from different sciences such as economics, psychology, and biology.
Peighambari, Sattari, Kordestani, and Oghazi (2016). Synthesis of recent literature on consumption behavior. Qualitative, literature review. There are internal, purchase process, external, and miscellaneous factors that could encourage individuals to buy products or services.
Shavitt and Cho (2016). Studying the impact of culture on consumer behaviors. Qualitative, literature review. Depending on the culture, collective or individual, consumer behaviors will range based on levels of value given to personal status or competition.
Krishnan (2011). Exploring lifestyle as a contributor of buyer behaviors. Quantitative, questionnaire. Lifestyle factors contribute to purchasing behaviors because they represent certain activities and expectations that customers have for products or services have.
Mohiuddin (2018). Studying the influence of lifestyle on consumer behaviors. Quantitative, questionnaire. Lifestyles are demonstrations of customers’ self-concepts that can fabricate the wants and desires that ultimately influence the final decision of each consumer.

Influencer Marketing as a Positive Contributor to Consumer behaviors

The third theme traced in the course of the narrative literature review is concerned Consumers who engage with online content are unconsciously affected in terms of their purchasing decisions, and a variety of factors usually influence the consumer buying process. Because the social channels of influencers are developed to act as tools for them to be able to publish reviews and recommendations for their audiences and other consumers who engage with online content, they represent a beneficial form of marketing that will aid companies through increasing purchasing. Exploring the impact of influencer marketing, both positive and negative, is essential for discovering the specifics of consumer behaviors and the subsequent changes in the profit of organizations that collaborate with influencers.

There is a wide range of explanations as to why individuals follow influencers online, ranging from the desire to keep up with the modern trends to gaining inspiration (Klein, 2013). Often, followers come to a page of a specific influencer because of the content that he or she produces as well as the overall message and image that is being transferred. Considering the influencer marketing definition, both inspiration and staying up-to-date match the purpose of the phenomenon itself, as suggested by Klein (2013). Influencers are trusted advisors, and the majority of their audiences care about their opinions and overall content shared online. As pointed out by Zietek (2016), by showing that they are similar to their audience, social media personas can increase the amount of their influence.

Researchers’ general assumption is that social media influencers play a defining role in encouraging consumer behaviors due to their secure connections with their followers (Brake, 2012). Research on leadership, both online and offline, has focused on two distinct directions: identifying the characteristics and motivations of influencers on social media and outlining their impact on consumers’ decision-making and the diffusion of new products and innovations (Zhang, Fam, Goh, and Dai, 2018). As to the antecedents of opinion leadership on social media platforms, it has been stated that the number of followers that influencers have a direct influence on user popularity (De Veirman et al., 2017). The consequence of such popularity is the increased influence on the purchasing behavior of audiences.

As found by Berne-Manero and Marzo-Navarro (2020), influencer marketing furthers the objectives of relationship marketing. The researchers also found that such qualities as appearance and pleasantness in influencers and their perceived integrity as well as the transmission of emotions play an essential role in facilitating the increased interests of customers in brands’ products or services (Berne-Manero and Marzo-Navarro, 2020). Because of this, companies will look at the capabilities of influencers to emotionally project their opinions about products (Berne-Manero and Marzo-Navarro, 2020). Besides, originality and uniqueness have been shown to be crucial factors if individuals are perceived to be opinion leaders on various social media platforms. Opinion leadership contributes to consumer behavioral intentions both toward the influencer (in terms of intentions to interact with his or her social media account) and the industry within which a brand operates (Casalo et al., 2020).

In cases when influencers recommend products that greatly fits the need of consumers, interest, or purchase, the higher is the likelihood that purchasing intention leans toward buying that product (Lisichkova and Othman, 2017). To a degree, this can be linked to the phenomenon of consumers being goal-oriented and looking for product recommendations online before making their purchase (Lisichkova and Othman, 2017). Although, the most significant links were found between the perceived value and quality and consumer behaviors. This occurs more often in instances when products advertised by influencers are perceived as useful and such that would add value. Thus, the higher the perceived value, the more likely social media users are to engage in purchasing behaviors. For audiences who trust influencers, the perceived quality was more impactful than monetary value, while higher price implied the need to consider a more significant number of factors (Appel et al., 2020).

Therefore, influencer-based marketing has shown to be successful in cases when there is an alignment between the values of target audiences and the values of brands. This occurs due to the fact that social media users usually follow influencers that they view as their role models or self-reflections (Grafstrom, Jakobsson, and Wiede, 2018). A recurring finding throughout multiple research studies is the necessity for the influencers to have a strong bond between their content and the products that they are promoted (Schouten, Janssen, and Verspaget, 2019). Thus, if influencers promote products that connect to their personal brands, their followers are more likely to trust in their recommendations due to the high level of credibility (Belanche, Flavian, and Ibanez-Sanchez, 2020). Followers have highlighted the opinion that they were more likely to buy the products recommended to them if they see proof from influencers that they have tested the products, which adds to credibility (Grafstrom et al., 2018). For example, it is useful for consumers to see how an influencer uses a particular product and can show that it actually works before placing their order for the product being advertised. This finding is supported by the conclusions made by Lee and Koo (2012) that if consumers viewed influencers as biased and non-authentic in their paid promotions, their level of credibility as trustworthy individuals decreases. For millennials specifically, it is very important that influencers create paid advertisements that are authentic to who they are in order to persuade them into making a purchase.

Authenticity has also been shown to matter when it comes to encouraging online audiences to purchase. According to the study by Gaden and Dumitrica (2014), a genuine personality is an important marker of an influencer’s value as it is concerned with honest communication with his or her audience as well as the overall perceived closeness to them. In influencer marketing, authenticity becomes a strategic tool that is shaped by the goals of online personas to develop commodifiable audiences that would be interesting to brands and companies as a potential ground for advertising (Abidin, 2015). As found by van Driel and Dumitrica (2020), the strategic authenticity of influencers is a component of their personal branding strategies that allows them to be seen as nice individuals and professionals who can form positive brand relationships. Through authenticity, influencers can honestly interact with their audiences and the latter become more interested and engaged with the content when they develop a feeling that they know an influencer (Duffy and Wissinger, 2017). Authenticity leads to further engagement with online influencer content through likes and comments, with high numbers indicating an increased loyalty of audiences (van Driel and Dumitrica, 2020).

There are several strategies that social media opinion leaders can use to build a reputation for being authentic personas. For instance, honest and transparent communication with the audience is one of such strategies that facilitate interconnectedness (Abidin, 2015). Influencers achieve the interconnection through addressing their audiences in their posts, forming questions to ask them about their opinions regarding a particular subject. This strategy generates engagement and simple questions such as ‘what do you think?’ or ‘what have you purchased lately?’ allowing influencers to entice the audience to leave a comment and help influencers boost their ranking in terms of online engagement, which is highly important for marketers when they consider working with influencers (van Driel and Dumutrica, 2020).

Another authenticity-building strategy is concerned with influencers aligning their social media profiles and feeds to the persona that they are aiming to present to the audience. An example of this is posting about important life events such as engagements or house renovations, depending on the thematic focus of the influencer and whether his or her personal life is among the aspects of content that is being shared online (van Driel and Dumutrica, 2020). It is notable that more and more influencers choose to share their personal life because it contributes to authenticity – it shows audiences that there is a ‘human’ side to the people they follow online and that they are similar to them (Abidin, 2016). For instance, it is common for Instagram influencers to post on stories some random occurrences throughout the day or show themselves making dinner and doing grocery shopping (Djafarova and Trofimenko, 2018). No matter how polished and unrealistically beautiful the posts on their profile are, the Instagram story aspect offers an opportunity to show the details of their lives and seems relatable and honest.

Although, the sense of community surrounding an influencer may change when the latter decides to collaborate with brands and participate in open advertising to their audience (Duffy, 2015). For some influencers, it is challenging to remain authentic while promoting products and services as companies have specific expectations regarding content presentation (Audrezet, de Kerviler, and Moulard, 2017). Therefore, some influencers will embed advertisements into their profiles in a way that they do not stand out much (Abidin, 2015). This is a native marketing strategy that is highly effective for making audiences make a purchase – the seamless integration of advertising into the content creates a sense of an authentic and honest recommendation even though they have been paid for by brands or companies. Therefore, the most effective and persuasive ads on the part of influencers are those that align with their self-branding and values (Khamis, Ang, and Welling, 2017). However, such advertisements can only be effective if social media influencers make informed and careful decisions about the ways in which they can construct the advertisements without compromising their authenticity and reputation online.

The role of influencers in encouraging customers to purchase particular products and services that are being advertised to them ranges from one product to another. According to Zak and Hasprova (2020), the promotion of some products with the help of influencers can be more advantageous for some products over others. Specifically, the most significant impact of influencers occurs in terms of promoting clothing, accessories, beauty products, and services (Gannon and Prothero, 2016). While consumers rely on other factors to purchase food, electronics, and jewelry, the impact of influencer marketing should also be considered (Zak and Hasprova, 2020). After conducting a survey with online consumers, the researchers found that 45% of participants would be encouraged to purchase clothing advertised to them by influencers (Zak and Hasprova, 2020). These findings were supported by Evans, Phua, Lim, and Jun (2017) who suggested that among influencers who promote fashion and beauty products, young female users are the most likely to believe in the opinions of influencers. These findings further point to the essential role that the alignment of influencers’ image and the products that they promote play in making their audiences make a purchase.

The decisions of consumers to purchase a product being advertised by online influencers were also shown to be linked to the quality of the content itself while the actual number of followers did not impact either trust or credibility (Lou and Yuan, 2019). This means that in order for influencer advertisements to contribute to the increased purchasing behaviors of their followers positively, it is essential that they present the content as effectively as possible (Hughes, Swaminathan, and Brooks, 2019). The number of followers did not matter as much as the social component of the advertisement itself, which is greatly associated with engagement (Voorveld, van Noort, Muntinga, and Bronner, 2018). These findings point out that the social aspect of influencer advertising leads to increased word-of-mouth marketing (WOM), which means that engagement can be created with the help of a reciprocal relationship between influencers and their followers (Kulmala, Mesiranta, and Tuominen, 2013).

Researchers have also examined the impact of social media-associated costs on company performance and stakeholder value (Hughes et al., 2019; Danaher and Dagger, 2013). Besides, many companies have attempted to quantify the value brought to them through social media engagement. As found by Hughes et al. (2019), the estimated ranger per Facebook like is between $0.33 to $8, while social media shares are estimated at around $8 per retweet on Twitter and $14 per post share on Facebook (Hughes et al., 2019). There is a marginally significant, positive correlation between influencers’ expertise and return on engagement (ROE) as well as a positive relationship between advertising campaign incentives and ROE (Hughes et al., 2019). These findings point to the fact that both influencer characteristics and their advertising intents can influence the bottom lines of companies (Ewers, 2017). By improving influencer marketing strategies taking account of such results, it is expected that they can increase the ROE for future campaigns that would guarantee an increase in purchasing behaviors.

Table 3: Influencer Marketing as a Positive Contributor to Consumer behaviors

Reference Content Research Methods Key results
Ewers (2017). Analyzing the connections between influencer characteristics and consumer responses. Qualitative, interviews. Both influencer characteristics and their advertising intents can influence the bottom lines of companies.
Hughes, Swaminathan, and Brooks (2019). An investigation of sponsored blogging campaigns. Qualitative, literature review. The content that influencers produce within the advertisement context should generate engagement from the audience.
Brake (2012). Understanding the meaning of personal information shared by influencers online. Qualitative, interviews. Social media influencers play a defining role in encouraging consumer behaviors due to their secure connections with their followers.
Kulmala, Mesiranta and Tuominen (2013). Exploring amplified and organic eWOM in consumer fashion blogs. Qualitative, literature review. Engagement can be created with the help of a reciprocal relationship between influencers and their followers.
Abidin (2015). Studying influencer frivolity as a method for gaining exposure. Qualitative, grounded theory analysis. Influencers achieve the interconnection through addressing their audiences in their posts, forming questions to ask them about their opinions.
Abidin (2016). Exploring the engagement of influencers in advertising fashion brands. Qualitative, ethnographic fieldwork. Influencers choose to share their personal life because it contributes to authenticity.
van Driel and Dumitrica (2020). Studying how influencers can help sell brands while staying authentic. Qualitative, interviews. Authenticity leads to engagement with online influencer content through likes and comments, with high numbers indicating an increased loyalty of audiences.
Evans, Phua, Lim and Jun (2017). Exploring the effects of disclosure on purchasing behavior intent. Qualitative, interviews. Essential role of the alignment of influencers’ image and the products that they promote play in making their audiences make a purchase.
Khamis, Ang and Welling (2017). Studying the impact of influencers’ self-branding in advertising. Qualitative, literature review. The most effective and persuasive ads on the part of influencers are those that align with their self-branding and values.
Gannon and Prothero (2016). Exploring the use of beauty selfies in transferring consumer authenticity. Qualitative, literature review. The most significant impact of influencers occurs in terms of promoting clothing, accessories, beauty products and services.
Zak and Hasprova (2020). Studying the role of influencers in the consumer decision-making process. Quantitative, survey. The researchers found that 45% of participants would be encouraged to purchase clothing advertised to them by influencers.
Duffy and Wissinger (2017). Exploring the work of influencers within the social media environment. Qualitative, literature review. Through authenticity, influencers can honestly interact with their audiences and the latter become more interested and engaged with the content.
Gaden and Dumitrica (2014). Studying authenticity as a contributor of influencers’ credibility. Qualitative, literature review. A genuine personality is an important marker of an influencer’s value and his or her impact on making consumers purchase.

Influencer Marketing as a Negative Contributor to Purchasing behaviors

A predominant view illustrated in current research is that online audiences trust the recommendations of influencers through commercials and advertisement campaigns. As suggested by Grafstrom et al. (2018), customers tend to buy into influencers’ recommendations when there is a balance – if influencers have too many promotions, the interest in the products being promoted will be lost. However, there are limitations associated with the low credibility of media influencers and the decreased trust of followers (Grafstrom et al., 2018). During advertising campaigns, the reach of brands is more significant as they work with individuals who have managed to build trusting relationships with subscribers (Vyatkina, 2020). By means of correctly selected influencers, the content produced by brands is shown to users who represent the target audience for the company and are already interested in what it offers (Vyatkina, 2020). As a result, there is no need for a company to spend an additional budget on finding appropriate targeted audiences. The success of a marketing campaign depends on the choice of the influencer and his or her integrity which is associated with increased trust in his or her recommendations.

As found by Grafstrom et al. (2018), social media users who follow influencers online may be critical and even hold negative feelings toward influencers that have not earned their popularity through hard work but have taken advantage of famous friends or partners. Influencer marketing of this type is seen as undeserved, which means that audiences’ potential purchasing behaviors will decrease (De Veirman, Hudders, and Nelson, 2019). This shows that the negative reputation and the overall image of the influencer will be directly associated with whether his or her audiences trust their recommendations. Besides, not only are influencers expected to know and like the products that they are promoting, but they also should be critical of the collaborations that are being offered to them (van Driel and Dumitricia, 2020). There are certain types of products, such as multivitamins or weight loss-inducing teas, which have acquired negative publicity online (Grafstrom et al., 2018). Influencers who endorse such products are often perceived as deceitful.

Therefore, the use of influencer marketing may have some negative implications for brands, which calls for marketing specialists to consider several important points. For instance, it is essential to recognize and understand the target audience and its expectations and align the influencers with the specifications of the audiences that are being targeted in marketing campaigns. In case if marketers do not align their marketing objectives with the decision to collaborate with specific influencers, it is likely that their campaigns may not turn out as successfully as expected (Scolere, Pruchniewska, and Duffy, 2018). Besides, it is necessary to consider the type of industry within which a company operates as there may be differences in the way that target audiences would react to paid advertisements from influencers. Finally, issues can appear regarding the compliance of influencer-produced content with brand values.

It has been suggested that when influencers disclose that they are financially rewarded for advertisements, they may be met with negative attitudes and audiences’ purchasing intentions (Evans et al., 2017). This possibly occurs due to the diminished credibility of influencers because they intentionally use their coverage and audience in order to influence their opinions. Although, the disclosure of sponsorships on social media is mandated by law in some countries in order to prevent the use of deceptive practices that could have influenced purchasing decisions. However, as found by Delrue (2018), some consumers value explicit disclosure of paid advertisements on social media because they feel that showing such information is necessary, especially for younger people, who can be influenced more easily.

The issue of disclosure of influencer advertisements online is controversial because it has been shown to have links to influencer credibility, which is an important part of marketing efforts’ success. In the study by Delrue (2018), the researcher found that the disclosure of an ad has a counterproductive effect, which was also supported by Evans et al. (2017). If an influencer’s post says ‘sponsored’ or ‘paid advertisement,’ the audience can judge the post and think that they do not want what the influencer is promoting. Although, when there is no disclosure, the audience may not notice a paid post because of the native advertising method. Native advertisements refer to the use of paid marketing campaigns to match the format of channels in which they appear (Delrue, 2018). Native advertisements are integrated into the content created by influencers and can be perceived as regular parts of their profile.

Table 4: Influencer Marketing as a Negative Contributor to Purchasing behaviors

Reference Content Research Methods Key results
Evans et al. (2017) Exploring the effects of disclosure on purchasing behavior intent. Qualitative, interviews. If an influencer’s post says ‘sponsored’ or ‘paid advertisement,’ the audience can judge the post and think that they do not want what the influencer is promoting.
Delrue (2018). Studying the impact of influencers on purchase behaviors and consumer attitudes. Qualitative, interviews. The disclosure of an advertisement by influences has a counterproductive effect on purchasing behaviors.
Scolere, Pruchniewska and Duffy (2018). Exploring the self-brand construction of influencers within social media promotions. Qualitative, interviews. In case if marketers do not align their marketing objectives with the decision to collaborate with specific influencers, it is likely that their campaigns may not turn as successfully as expected.
Grafstrom, Jakobsson and Wiede (2018). Studying the tole of influencer marketing in changing consumer attitudes. Qualitative, interviews. Social media users who follow influencers online may be critical and even hold negative feelings toward influencers that have not earned their popularity through hard work.
van Driel and Dumitricia (2020). Studying how influencers can help sell brands while staying authentic. Qualitative, interviews. Not only are influencers expected to know and like the products that they are promoting, but they also should be critical of the collaborations that are being offered to them.

Analysis and Critical Discussion

The aim of the literature review was to find out the ways in which influencer marketing impacts the purchasing behaviors of their followers. After processing the results of the reviews, the following points of discussion and recommendations will be made.

There are many reasons why people follow influencers online and buy products recommended by them. Inspiration, motivation, entertainment, and being up to date with the latest trends are among the most widespread reasons. Considering the way in which customers react to influencer marketing in the areas of their interest, the overall strategy can be regarded as a valid form of promotion that companies can use to push goods to their customers. Even though influencer marketing is now being used often, it still provides a competitive advantage to companies because influencers range depending on their reach, reputation, social media channels, as well as interests, which means that different consumer segments will be influenced by different types of social media personas. The success of a marketing campaign that involves an influencer depends on choosing the right individual according to whom the target advertisement will be planned (van Driel and Dumitricia, 2020). When not choosing widely known celebrities, companies that work with influencers will identify with the target segment and are considered reputable and trustworthy by their audience. Consumers have been shown to react positively to the advertisements and promotions of influencers who show their interest in products or services and are genuine about their opinions.

Due to the social component of influencer marketing and the exchange of opinions and perspectives between influencers and their followers, companies have begun investing in this form of online advertising while abandoning traditional celebrity endorsers. Online audiences have been shown to respond positively to the products promoted by influencers because they relate to them and can connect based on personal interests, tastes, the following of trends as well as product expectations, which makes influencer marketing a beneficial strategy (Delrue, 2018). However, the review of the literature showed that it is not enough for consumers that influencers are attractive or have a large online following, there should be an alignment between their values and lifestyle and the product or service that they are pushing. When an influencer promotes a good quality product from a reputable brand that he or she has tried or mentioned before, it is more likely that a marketing campaign will be successful (Scolere et al., 2018). Online audiences expect that influencers are knowledgeable about the advertised goods or services and give their honest opinion about them. Therefore, it is the combination of quality products and reputable influencers that makes advertisement campaigns successful in terms of companies’ ROI.

The exchange of information that occurs between online personalities and their followers breaks the walls between consumers, brands, and followers, creating an ideal context for shaping consumer behaviors. Prior to the rise of social media, the process of advertising products or services to consumers was one-sided, with companies pushing their goods without giving them the opportunity to engage in a conversation. Now, brands interact with their consumers through social media and use the power and impact of reputable influencers to help find common ground with their target audiences (Evans et al., 2017). Therefore, influencer marketing completely changed the way in which brands interact with their consumers, while the latter feel that they are making informed decisions when making their purchases based on recommendations attained from the people they follow online. The success that companies can expect when working with influencers on their marketing campaigns relies on the interactive connections with the online audience, which shows why social media influencer advertising is one of the most widespread and effective strategies.

It should be noted that as an influencer can encourage positive emotions about a product and enable followers to purchase them, the opposite effect can also occur. Some influencers may not have a positive image due to some scandals or the lack of authenticity or credibility, and this can reflect on the reception of their paid advertisements (Abidin, 2017). Consumers have also been shown to react negatively when influencers promote inferior quality goods as well as those that were previously exposed for not doing what they promised. Due to this fact, both the product quality and the reputation of influencers matter in online advertisement campaigns. Companies and brands that are considering influencer marketing should, therefore, be aware of the potential negative implications of advertisement campaigns when wrong influencers are chosen or when their values do not align with brands’ values.

Overall, the narrative literature review showed that brand marketers are ready to work with influencers to attract target audiences, especially of younger generations, and it is forecasted that the trend will persist. Influencer marketing is appealing since there is no need to deal with the peculiarities of online advertisements and limitations such as adblocking. Through collaborating with influencers, current trends can be disseminated faster as the modern society is highly engaged with the digital environment and is open to engaging with brands and social media personalities (Uzunoglu and Kip, 2014). The overall shift in how people prioritize WOM information over other forms of sharing, such as television or printed media (Happer and Philo, 2013). Therefore, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the brand ambassadors in the form of influencers will continue engaging their followers into a conversation about their expectations about products and push them toward purchasing through giving personal and potentially genuine recommendations.

Thus, research shows that influencer marketing has a contributing effect on consumer behaviors when certain conditions are met. As seen in the table above, researchers identified influencers like social media personalities that can reach desired audience coverage and increase spending behavior through their recommendations. However, an influencer should have a genuine personality and be authentic when engaging with their audiences and advertising products or services to them (Whitmer, 2019). The size of the audience does not matter significantly, but it is rather the quality of communication and engagement that occurs on social media channels between influencers and followers. It was also found that followers were more likely to buy products recommended to them online if they see proof from influencers that they genuinely use them and like them. Besides, the explicit disclosure of paid advertisements on influencers’ pages was essential because of the transparency expectations.

Conclusion

Influencer marketing offers companies a wide range of benefits associated with capturing target consumers and enabling them to make a purchase. The increased engagement of consumers with the online environment makes it easier for advertisers to determine the values and expectations of potential customers and bring them closer to a purchase. Influencers who have developed their online presence and gained a significant following represent the vehicles for the seamless and effective integration of advertisements into the social media sphere (Abidin, 2015). The narrative literature review showed that influencer marketing was a common and effective tool for promoting products and services and used to impact consumer behaviors. Moreover, both positive and negative contributions were found.

Therefore, the immense growth of the digital environment and social media will guarantee the continuing trends of using influencer advertising to promote products or services. Although, in order for influencers to be effective in enabling purchasing behavior among their followers, the products and services that they advertise should align with their values or interests so that the recommendations appear genuine to followers (Grafstrom, Jakobsson and Wiede, 2018). In cases when influencers sacrifice their personal credibility for getting paid for advertisements, the audience is most likely to notice that because they know the influencers they follow and can react adversely to the intentional and dishonest pushing of the products. The contributing impact of influencer marketing occurs predominantly in cases when there is a close connection between the values of the brands and the values of influencers who are financially rewarded for their recommendations to their audiences.

Learning Statement

I developed essential skills associated with collecting information on the topic of influencer marketing’s impact on consumer behaviors and synthesizing it to answer the topic. The literature review helped me to develop such skills as the ability to search and access publications on the chosen research topic and read the sources and analyze their relevance to the study question at hand. In addition, the literature review process helped me to evaluate the data and publications for determining which articles make a noteworthy contribution to the body of evidence on the topic. Finally, the most crucial component for me was to write a coherent and in-depth narrative intended for synthesizing the sources that were found, read, and subsequently analyzed.

With the help of the Internet, searching for literature on the chosen topic has become relatively easy for me as there is an abundance of online databases that hold digital copies of both online and printed resources from scholarly articles. The key challenge in the process of searching for literature that has been previously checked or peer-reviewed is to guarantee reliability and high quality of the evidence presented by authors. Therefore, I considered it important not to blindly cite from online sources but to look at them critically to determine whether the quality of the information and the expertise of researchers are enough for conducting a comprehensive literature review. In addition, since I did the collection of research literature online, it was important to consider the fact that items available on the Internet can be changed to stay up-to-date with recent information, although no such issues appeared during the search at this time. Although, it is notable that visiting physical libraries is not a viable solution at this point as some of them may be closed or work limited hours due to pandemic considerations.

I have developed an important skill in the course of this learning experience which is concerned with choosing and refining search terms to yield the most appropriate results for the literature review. The development of search terms relied on the question asked before the study – how does influencer marketing affect consumer behaviors? The majority of the search terms were useful for finding relevant articles since the topic is current and highly relevant within the marketing environment. Researchers have extensively studied the subject of influencer marketing as a novel phenomenon that is changing the advertising landscape by getting consumers closer to opinion leaders and to brands that pay such leaders to recommend their products or services. Most of the literature found as a result of the search was up to date and published within five years of the current time. It is expected that more research on the topic will emerge as consumer demands and trends change, with online commerce coming at the forefront.

With the changes in customer behavior associated with COVID-19, more customers will pay attention to online resources to make purchasing decisions. New consumer habits are expected to emerge in relation to technology advances, changing demographics as well as innovative ways in which people have learned in order to cope with the adverse barriers imposed on them in daily life. The mandated self-isolation in countries around the world has caused consumers to adopt new technologies and applications into their everyday life, such as online video conferencing for work meetings, school, and college lessons as well as telehealth. The overall time spent online and on social platforms increased, facilitating engagement between influencers and customers. WhatsApp, YouTube, and Facebook are platforms with more than a billion users and subscribers, which has significantly changed the impact and scope of word-of-mouth recommendations and information sharing. Therefore, influencer marketing will continue growing due to the strengthening of digital integration of global society and the expanding number and variety of influencers who accumulate thousands or millions of followers.

Overall, this project allowed me to develop a range of essential skills that can help in further academic studies. In addition to the skills, the comprehensive knowledge acquired during literature synthesis and analysis gave me a high level of topic understanding that can be helpful in future research. The opportunities for studying influencer marketing impact are vast, with possibilities to explore changes in consumer behaviors in different industries as well as in regards to specific products that are being advertised to them. The literature review can serve as a basis for future qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies due to the inclusion of a broad scope of evidence from multiple reliable and high-quality sources.

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