Brand Authenticity in a Digital World: Analysing the Impact of Social Media Marketing on the Authenticity of Sport Brands

Nadja Autenrieth & Aenne-Dore Haas

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose: For sport marketers, celebrity athletes as brand endorsers are important collaboration partners to exert influence on consumers’ brand associations. With the emergence of social media, social media influencers as a new type of potential collaboration partners arose. Along with market developments, consumers increasingly long for authenticity when interacting with brands. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of brand endorsers, such as celebrity athletes and social media influencers, on a sport brand’s authenticity in a social media context along with other factors that might have moderating effects. Design/methodology/approach: The study applies a deductive research approach where existing theory is utilized to derive hypotheses, which are tested using a quantitative mono method approach. A survey research strategy and the technique of online questionnaires is chosen to gather quantitative data. This data is then analysed by applying statistics in form of regression analyses.
Findings: The results suggest that both, celebrity athletes and social media influencers as brand endorsers, have a positive effect on consumers’ authenticity perceptions of a sport brand. Celebrity athletes are able to exert a higher positive effect compared to social media influencers. Further, especially celebrity athletes’ trustworthiness and brand congruence evaluations are crucial for the measured effectiveness. For social media influencers, consumers’ evaluations of expertise and also trustworthiness are focal for their impact on brand authenticity. Lastly, the moderators of sport involvement and social media advertising scepticism did not show an effect on the relationships between the two types of brand endorsers and brand authenticity.
Originality/Value: The study is able to contribute to the research fields of sport brands, brand authenticity, and social media marketing. Other researchers have investigated the effect of endorsers on other branding construct, but not in relation to brand authenticity so far. In addition, research on social media influencers and Instagram, a growing social media marketing channel, is limited. Thereby, this study can contribute with additional knowledge in these fields.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages159
SupervisorsSven Junghagen