The Impact of Social Media Influencers on Consumer Attitudes and Purchase Intentions

February 10, 2023

Influencer marketing has become all the rage not only in Malaysia, but around the world. While influencers may not have the same level of fame as celebrities, they do have a large following on social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. However, they can significantly influence consumer behaviour and purchasing decisions through their content and recommendations.

INTI International University’s Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wong Chee Hoo suggests that future research related to consumers’ attitudes towards the social media influencers can be improved by studying other factors to help companies and marketers better understand the consumers’ attitudes.

In marketing, social media influencers are seen as a valuable tool to reach and engage a specific target audience. Social media influencers refer to users on social media who have built a large network of followers by carefully curating and posting textual and visual contents especially narrations of their daily lives[1].

Brands love social media influencers because of their ability to create trends and influence others to buy a product or service.

“They partner with social media influencers to promote their products or services to followers, with the hope that the endorsement will lead to increased brand awareness and sales,” said Associate Professor Dr. Wong Chee Hoo from the Faculty of Business and Communications at INTI International University.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wong Chee Hoo conducted a study titled “Consumers’ Perceptions of Social Media Influencers and Its Influence on Purchase Intention of Malaysians” with his students Tan Jing Kai, Lim Shi Qi, Darren Tan Chee Zhe, Lian Yong Peng and Chong Yee Foong from the Bachelor of Marketing programme. The study found that the informativeness, entertainment provided, source credibility, source attractiveness and product matchup of the social media influencer poses a significant relationship towards consumer attitude, which in the end affects their purchase intention.

According to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wong, most younger users tend to share with their peer content that are either educational, informative, or entertaining.

“Teenagers and young adults are known for their active presence and engagement on social media platforms, and they share a variety of content with their peers,” said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wong, highlighting the importance of considering young people as a target audience for marketing strategy and the potential that an influencer has in reaching this group.

He added, “The focus of the study is on Malaysian influencers, with the aim to show the impact and power that social media influencers have in shaping customer intent and attitude.”

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wong said they collected 421 data sets to highlight the significance of local social media influencers in the marketing industry and its impact on consumers’ attitudes and purchasing behaviour.

“Five variables identified in this study were tested to gauge consumers’ attitude towards social media influencers and consumers’ purchase intention,” said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wong.

Assessing the variables of informativeness, entertainment, source credibility, source attractiveness and product matchup indicated that all dimensions had a significant impact on consumers’ attitudes towards social media influencers, except for the entertainment dimension.

Informativeness refers to the extent of which the content shared by the influencer provides useful information or knowledge to the audience. The degree to which the influencer’s content is enjoyable and entertaining is referred to as entertainment. The trustworthiness and expertise of the influencer as a source of information is referred to as source credibility. Source attractiveness, on the other hand, can be the physical appearance and overall appeal of the influencer. Meanwhile, product matchup refers to the compatibility between the influencer’s image or lifestyle and the product being promoted.

Social media influencers are seen as a valuable tool to reach and engage with a specific target audience.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wong highlighted that these variables are commonly used in research to study the impact of social media influencers on consumer attitude and purchase intentions. From the survey, source attractiveness strongly contributed to consumers’ attitudes toward social media influencers.

“These variables are important in our research because they can impact how consumers perceive social media influencers and how likely they are to be influenced by the content produced by social media influencers,” explained Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wong, adding that understanding the impact of these variables can help a brand or company tailor their marketing strategies for better reach and engage with their target audiences.

Understanding consumer attitudes toward social media influencers provides useful insights for businesses and marketers looking to hire influencers for marketing campaigns. This, in turn, can increase profits by increasing consumers’ willingness to buy and interact with their brand.

“It is important to note that other factors such as product quality and overall marketing strategy and campaign, also play a significant role in determining a company’s success. In the end, influencer marketing is just one piece of the larger puzzle and should be approached as part of a comprehensive and well-planned marketing strategy,” he concluded.