Does Authenticity of Influencers Matter? Examining the Impact on Purchase Decisions

Posted: 28 Jun 2021

See all articles by Angela Choi

Angela Choi

Florida State University

Jui Ramaprasad

University of Maryland

Hyunji So

McGill University

Date Written: May 31, 2021

Abstract

Social media has brought to light the role of authenticity in influencing decision-making, but little work has examined specific authenticity cues that might impact purchase. In other words, does authenticity influence consumer actions? In this paper, we examine an e-commerce platform that leverages influencers to sell beauty products, and examine how two authenticity cues – explicit transparency (#ad) and implicit authenticity (photo originality) – impact purchase decisions. We draw from expectation-confirmation theory and suggest that the impact that perceived authenticity has on purchase decisions and post-purchase satisfaction depends on the type of authenticity cue and is shaped by the expectation of the consumer. We further argue that expectations vary depending on the consumer experience with an influencer and therefore explore the moderation effect of customer loyalty. Our findings suggest that consumers have different reactions depending on the authenticity cues – their purchase probability decreases with transparency but increases with photo originality. We see that with greater loyalty, consumers are more negatively impacted by the #ad tag and are less positively influenced by the originality of the photo. On the other hand, purchase depth—loyalty to one influencer—mitigates the negative effect of the #ad tag and heightens the positive impact of photo originality. We suggest that experience with the influencer provides evidence that the higher the expectation for authenticity (depth) the higher the negative impact of in-authenticity. We also discuss limitations and implications of our work.

Keywords: Social Media, Authenticity, Influencer-based Endorsement, Hierarchical Bayesian Model, Unstructured Data Analysis

Suggested Citation

Choi, Angela and Ramaprasad, Jui and So, Hyunji, Does Authenticity of Influencers Matter? Examining the Impact on Purchase Decisions (May 31, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3858887 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3858887

Angela Choi (Contact Author)

Florida State University ( email )

Tallahasse, FL 32306
United States

Jui Ramaprasad

University of Maryland ( email )

Robert H. Smith School of Business
4313 Van Munching Hall
College Park, MD 20815
United States

Hyunji So

McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. West
Montreal
Canada

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