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How competing brands are being communicated through Influencer Marketing

A qualitative study aimed to explore how consumers evaluate an influencer communicating competing brands

Written by J. Dahlqvist, S. Preiksaite

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis


Business Administration>Marketing & Sales




Bachelor Thesis: Internet celebrity marketing (IM) is an extension of WOM's marketing method. Brands interact with consumers through Internet celebrities who have a strong follower base on social media platforms (Khamis, Ang & Welling, 2017). In today's evolving media environment, brands see the concept of IM as an important feature of their sales process, which is driven by consumers' purchasing decisions (Brown & Hayes, 2008). One of the main reasons why IM is so popular is mainly because it is more cost-effective and can reach a large number of consumers in a much cheaper way than traditional marketing techniques (Brown & Hayes, 2008; Woods, 2016; Hobson, 2017; Shirisha, 2018). In fact, IM accounts for about 20% of the brand's existing budget for traditional marketing (Brown & Hayes, 2008). Another comparison between traditional marketing and IM is the substantial increase in return on investment (ROI) due to increased sales, which is achieved through influencers (Brown & Hayes, 2008; Woods, 2016). Given that marketing costs on social media are fairly low, it enables brands of all sizes to take advantage of it, thereby increasing competition between brands in the social media market (Shirisha, 2018). Shirisha (2018) further explained that as consumers increase their use of social media platforms, brands must consider more platforms when promoting products or services through influencers. Since influencers have a strong influence on their followers, collaborating with brands can improve their ability to reach millions of potential customers and consumers (Khamis et al., 2017; Sudha & Sheena, 2017). In this way, IM increases the feasibility of brands choosing narrower target markets when working with influencers (Brown & Hayes, 2008). 2.3.1 Fashion Industry The specific target market established by IM is consumers in the fashion industry, and fashion blogs have become the ultimate medium for sharing experiences, opinions and recommendations (Sudha & Sheena, 2017). Fashion blogs allow consumers to continuously learn about new fashion trends and are influenced by various brands in the fashion industry (Sudha & Sheena, 2017). In the most representative sense of the fashion industry in IM, the marketing content and work produced within IM and posted on social media are mainly represented by female influencers (Duffy & Hund, 2015). This is mainly because women have obtained many jobs throughout the fashion industry (Marwick, 2013). As fashion blogs became one of the earliest media representing fashion industry trends, the social media platform Instagram has also gained a lot of attention on how fashion influencers promote their brands in a social environment (Alshawaf & Wen, 2015). 2.5 Two-step flow theory expression opinion leaders briefly mentioned earlier in this article and reflected in the contemporary term influencer, which will provide a deeper understanding of how consumers’ purchasing decisions are affected by the influencers’ competitive brand communication on their social media platforms knowledge. This expression is derived from the two-step flow theory, which is based on the preliminary research of Katz and Lazarfeld (1955) and predicts how mass media information will be interpreted by opinion leaders. In the two-step flow model, there are four different principles—exposure, media, content, and inclination—also called interpersonal relationships. They can affect mass media communication by blocking or mitigating information from reaching the public. Katz and Lazarfield, 1955). The four principles of interpersonal relationships will be used as a guide when analyzing how consumers evaluate influencers’ communication about how promotional products are displayed in a social media environment. The influence of interpersonal relationships is related to opinion leaders, who are those who observe and interpret information from the mass media, and then convey the information interpreted by the mass media to the public (Katz & Lazarfeld, 1955). Opinion leaders are usually those who are evaluated by their opinions and highly trusted by their followers (Katz & Lazarfeld, 1955). This group of followers is composed of people with similar opinions, whose opinions change according to social norms (Katz & Lazarfeld, 1955). Katz & Lazarfeld (1955) further pointed out that when individuals see that their peers also accept norms, they are more obliged to accept changing opinions. By acknowledging the two-step flow theory, people have a deeper understanding of decision-making based on the influence of mass media, and a deeper understanding of how media activities change people’s attitudes and behaviors (Katz & Lazarfeld, 1955). In addition, Carr and Hayes (2014) believe that the two-step flow theory applies to the concept of eWOM and connects the relationship between the brand and its consumers through opinion leaders. Through this connection, Carr & Hayes (2014) deepened the understanding of the relationship between influencers and consumers through how consumers evaluate influencers’ communication. Therefore, in the contemporary sense, the two-step flow theory will serve as the basis for understanding how IM works. In addition, Carr and Hayes (2014) suggested that brands can create positive opinions around their brands and cultivate consumer relationships through the influence of opinion leaders, who provide information about the brand and write reviews. However, seeing how to build positive opinions in the sense of promotional products may raise questions about the true judgment of influencers, especially when it comes to compensation (Carr & Hayes, 2014). Read Less