Social media influencer (SMI) as a human brand – a need fulfillment perspective
Journal of Product and Brand Management
Purpose: Social media influencers (SMIs) are becoming a powerful force within the marketing and branding landscape, with several leading brands opting to use SMI endorsements for their products and brands. Extant SMI literature has primarily focused on the influence mechanism exerted by SMIs on their followers. Less is known about how followers view their favorite SMIs. This study aims to explore the SMI–follower relationship from the follower’s perspective and examine the underlying attachment mechanism. Design/methodology/approach: First, a qualitative study was conducted to explore the attributes that individuals consider following an SMI and ensure that it is consistent with the literature review. This was followed by a survey-based quantitative study where a structural equation modeling technique was used to test the hypotheses using 508 SMI followers. Findings: Followers find the SMI as a source to fulfill their intrinsic needs, that is, need to escape or self- improvement. The findings of this study suggest that followers attribute glamor, fun and connectedness to the SMIs driven by their need for self-improvement and fun with their need to escape. Finally, these attributions influence the overall perceived image of the SMI in followers' minds. Originality/value: This study uses qualitative and quantitative approaches to picture SMIs as human brands from a follower's need fulfillment perspective.
Attachment theory, Escape, Human brand theory, Self-improvement, Social media influencers
Marketing and Business Analytics
Aaminah Zaman Malik, Sajani Thapa, and Audhesh K. Paswan. "Social media influencer (SMI) as a human brand – a need fulfillment perspective" Journal of Product and Brand Management (2023): 173-190. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPBM-07-2021-3546