Do You Still Trust Me? A Thesis on Credibility in Influencer Marketing

Caroline Asmus & Christine Matthesen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Influencer marketing is increasing in popularity both in literature and in the managerial use. Companies are realising the marketing potential of using influencers to promote their brands and products to very specific target groups, which are hard to reach through traditional advertising. Blogs used to be personal online diaries but today influencers have spread across channels and have become much more professional and consequently also commercialised. This has changed the relationship between the influencer and the followers. Therefore, this thesis wants to examine the perception of credibility in influencer marketing. This thesis builds on a theoretical framework of credibility, influencer marketing, and brand communication to analyse the perception of credibility in influencer marketing. The research is based on qualitative methodology and includes eight in-depth interviews with companies, influencer agencies, and communications agencies, nine in-depth interviews with influencers, two focus groups with the target group, and three case studies of influencer marketing campaigns. This research contributes to and combines the existing literature on both credibility and influencer marketing by examining the different factors affecting credibility in influencer marketing on the Danish market. The main findings of this thesis include how the target group mainly use the influencer’s source credibility, the company’s source credibility and the perceived coherence between influencer and company to evaluate credibility in influencer marketing. The target group perceives the personal recommendation of the brand as trustworthy, when the influencer is perceived as honest, sincere, competent, likeable, and personally engaged. The category of influencer (micro-, macro-, and mega influencers) and the campaign purpose (promoting a product, branding, or behavioural change) also affect the perception of credibility in influencer marketing. Furthermore, our findings suggest that the creation of content plays an important role in how well influencer marketing resonates with the target group. This thesis concludes that companies can use influencer marketing to create brand awareness, where the influencer’s popularity is transferred to the promoted brand, if the influencer is perceived as trustworthy. Advertising efficiency is important in affecting the purchase intention of the target group through the effect of entertainment, informativeness, customization, and irritation of the campaign. Furthermore, our findings suggest that the target group uses the perceived match between influencer and company as an indicator for the influencer’s sincerity and credibility. This includes the perceived match between the company’s and the influencer’s identity but also the perceived match between the brand and the target group. The perceived match affects the target group’s perception of advertising relevance and value

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages256