Constructing Personas: How High-Net-Worth Social Media Influencers Reconcile Ethicality and Living a Luxury Lifestyle

Marina Leban*, Thyra Uth Thomsen, Sylvia von Wallpach, Benjamin G. Voyer

*Corresponding author for this work

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Drawing from a multi-sourced data corpus (in-depth interviews and Instagram posts) gathered from high-net-worth (HNW) social media influencers, this article explores how these individuals reconcile ethicality and living a luxury lifestyle through the enactment of three types of personas on Instagram: (1) Ambassador of ‘True’ Luxury, (2) Altruist, and (3) ‘Good’ Role Model. By applying the concepts of taste regimes and social moral licensing, we find that HNW social media influencers conspicuously enact and display ethicality, thereby retaining legitimacy in the field of luxury consumption. As these individuals are highly influential, they could leave a potentially significant mark on public discourse and, consequently, on their audiences’ construction of ethically responsible luxury consumption. In this vein, this article offers significant managerial insights into professional influencers and discusses ethical managerial practices to ensure ethical collaborations between influencers and managers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)225-239
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 14 March 2020


  • Ethicality
  • Luxury lifestyle
  • Social media influencer

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