Consumer responses to influencer marketing on Instagram

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In light of the emergence and mainstreaming of the influencer industry, it has become increasingly important to understand how consumers respond to influencer marketing techniques. Academic research has previously focused on how influencers interact with their audiences, and little to no work has spoken directly to consumers about their views on influencers and sponsored content on Instagram. Focusing on what this trend means to those who actively engage with influencers, this thesis examines how Australian consumers respond to influencers and influencer marketing on Instagram through mixed-methods research. The thesis reveals that consumers prefer sponsored content over traditional online and offline advertising techniques. One of the main reasons for this preference is the personal relationship that consumers are able to establish with influencers. This research demonstrates high levels of media literacy among consumers and their confidence in recognising sponsored content, even when ad intent is undisclosed. Additionally, this thesis shows that a promotional tone of voice undermines message credibility more than ad disclosure. This paper extends our knowledge of contemporary online marketing by providing a comprehensive account of how consumers react to influencer marketing on Instagram and in turn provides new insights into the consumer–influencer relationship.
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