Effect of Influencers on Buying Behavior: An Exploratory Study of How Influencers Affect Brand Engagement Among Their Followers

Sofie Hjortskov Munch

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Organizations are increasingly utilizing influencers as part of their marketing strategy to generate brand engagement. Despite significant practitioner interest, scholarly inquiry into how influencers foster brand engagement has transpired in the literature relatively recently, resulting in limited understanding of the concept to-date. This thesis addresses the gab in the literature by providing a model conceptualizing the various ways in which influencers influence buying behavior. Specifically, the research seeks to develop a model capturing the drivers for influencer loyalty, and how this concept in turn fosters brand engagement. In order to do so, a number of moderators are identified to test the relationship between these two concepts. The model is developed through an extensive literature review as well as an exploratory research, from which hypotheses are formulated and attempted falsified by collecting appropriate data in shape of a survey. Thus, the research strategy is deductive. By conducting both a simple- and moderated linear regression the relationship between the identified variables are determined. The research shows that influencers are highly effective in fostering brand engagement among their followers. The most prominent antecedents of influencer loyalty are identified as identification, engagement, trust, uniqueness and sense parasocial relationships. The findings did not support the notion of the relationship between influencer loyalty and brand engagement being dependent on certain identified moderators. However, these variables do play a significant role in driving brand engagement independently of influencer loyalty. This research contributes to a better understanding of the role of influencers in consumption. More specifically, it extends former knowledge on influencers and provides significant implications for theory on influencer- and brand engagement literature in general. Additionally, the findings have managerial implications as it offers guidelines for effective influencer marketing in terms of selecting appropriate influencers as well as strategy development. The research is limited to merely investigate females in the age of 18-35 years as well as influencers present on Instagram, which leaves a variety of opportunities for further research. This study is the first to conceptualize influencer loyalty and its correlation with brand engagement, which constitutes great value to the current knowledge on influencers.

EducationsCand.ling.merc Erhvervssprog og International Erhvervskommunikation (Multikulturel Kommunikation i Organisationer), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages91
SupervisorsAlexander Josiassen