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The Impact of Social Media Influencers on Purchase Intention and the Mediation Effect of Customer Attitude

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Social media influencers are first explored in the advertising field, particularly to create buzz in the younger markets and further expand social media coverage in businesses. This study is designed to investigate the effectiveness of social media influencers, focusing on source credibility, source attractiveness, product match-up, and meaning transfer. Consumer attitude is proposed to mediate between both the exogenous and endogenous relationships. Data collection was designed using the purposive sampling method and the dataset of 200 respondents was then analysed using PLS-SEM technique. All hypotheses are found to be supported except for source credibility. Mediating effects of consumer attitude are also determined. Implications, limitations, and suggestion for recommended research are further discussed.
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Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 19
Asian Journal of Business Research
Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017
ISSN 2463-4522 e-ISSN 1778-8933
DOI: 10.14707/ajbr.170035
The Impact of Social Media Influencers on
Purchase Intention and the Mediation Effect of
Customer Attitude
Xin Jean Lim
Faculty of Economics and Management, Universiti Putra Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Aifa Rozaini bt Mohd Radzol
Faculty of Economics and Management, Universiti Putra Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Jun-Hwa Cheah (Jacky)
Azman Hashim International Business School, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Mun Wai Wong
Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology
Melbourne, Australia
Abstract
Social media influencers are first explored in the advertising field, particularly to
create buzz in the younger markets and further expand social media coverage in
businesses. This study is designed to investigate the effectiveness of social media
influencers, focusing on source credibility, source attractiveness, product match-up,
and meaning transfer. Consumer attitude is proposed to mediate between both the
exogenous and endogenous relationships. Data collection was designed using the
purposive sampling method and the dataset of 200 respondents was then analysed
using PLS-SEM technique. All hypotheses are found to be supported except for
source credibility. Mediating effects of consumer attitude are also determined.
Implications, limitations, and suggestion for recommended research are further
discussed.
Keywords: Influencer Marketing, Social Media Influencers, Source Credibility,
Source Attractiveness, Product Match-up, Meaning Transfer, Purchase
Intention, PLS-SEM
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 20
Background
Influencer marketing emphasises the use of influencers to drive a brand’s message to
reach the target segment (Smart Insights 2017). In the age of ubiquitous Internet,
social media influencers have emerged as a dynamic third party endorser (Freberg et
al. 2011). Leveraging on a plethora of social media platforms such as Facebook,
Instagram, Twitter and Youtube, social media influencers are aptly used to publicise
product information and latest promotions to online followers (Markethub 2016).
Social media influencers typically engage with their followers by regularly updating
them with the latest information (Liu et al. 2012).
In marketing, endorsement plays a significant role in achieving a company's good
reputation and business goals. In recent years, social media influencers have
established themselves as potential endorsers by generating a range of buzzwords as
compared to other marketing strategies (i.e., celebrity endorsement), and are deemed
to be the most cost-efficient and -effective marketing trends (Harrison 2017; Patel
2016; Talaverna 2015). Additionally, social media influencers can also showcase
compelling outcome in both media coverage and consumer persuasion (Booth and
Matic 2011). Nevertheless, research on social media influencers is still relatively
scant (Godey et al. 2016).
Based on the tenets of influencer marketing, companies generally invite social media
influencers such as bloggers with thousands of followers in their social media
accounts as their brand ambassador (Tapinfluence 2017). Messages proclaimed by
social media influencers are often perceived as more reliable and compelling to
consumers, and have been substantiated by 82% of followers' polls, in which
consumers are reported to be more likely to follow their favorite influences'
recommendations (Talaverna 2015). Compared to celebrity endorsement promotion
strategy, the use of social media influencers are regarded as more credible,
trustworthy and knowledgeable due to their amiability in building rapport with
consumers (Berger et al. 2016), especially for businesses that target the younger
generations.
According to a Neilsen marketing survey, influencer marketing yields “returns on
investments” (ROI) 11 times higher as compared to digital marketing (Tapinfluence
2017). In contrast, celebrity endorsement are more instrumental in raising brand
awareness among consumers, whilst social media influencers play a highly significant
role in driving product engagement and brand loyalty (Tapinfluece 2017) as they are
more capable of communicating to a niche segment. Organisations believe that
endorsement can warrant the factuality of product information (Amoateng and Poku
2013; Sassenberg et al. 2012). Echoing this popular believe, social media influencers
as a brand endorser has grown more sought-after especially among new and small
online businesses. Media Kix marketing reported that approximately 80% of online
marketers claimed that social media influencers are potential endorsers who boost
their online businesses to higher levels (Forbes 2017). These statistical evidences can
validate the effectiveness of social media influencers in stimulating consumers'
purchase intention. Recent influencer marketing reports also demonstrated an
estimated 50% of the brands earmarked an uptick fund allocation in hiring social
media influencers to promote their brands (Forbes 2017). Moreover, social media
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 21
influencers are perceived as more sincere in delivering and demonstrating the
endorsed product to their followers (Tapinfluece 2017).
This research further seeks to understand the notion of social media influencers by
examining the effect on consumers' attitude and purchase intention. Morwitz (2014)
interprets purchase intention as a widely-used marketing tool to estimate the
effectiveness of a marketing strategy, which can be used to predict sales and market
share. This study provides a comprehensive understanding towards measuring social
media influencers' effectiveness by using four constructs which are: source credibility
(Hovland and Weiss 1951), source attractiveness (McGuire 1985), product match-up
(Till and Busler 1998), and meaning transfer (McCracken 1989). Therefore,
identifying the effectiveness of social media influencers (i.e., source credibility,
source attractiveness, product match-up, and meaning transfer) on purchase intention
through customers' attitude could potentially offer valuable insights to marketing
practitioners, whereby they can develop promotional strategies to shape positive and
impactful customers' decision-making towards their product and services.
Underpinning Theory
Social learning theory by Bandura (1963) has been widely applied in academic
research, particularly in communication and advertising fields (Bush et al. 2004). It
acts as a theoretical framework to provide ideas of socialization agents that can
predict consumption behaviours (King and Multon 1996; Martin and Bush 2000).
Social learning theory justifies that an individual derives motivation and consequently
exhibits favourable attitude from socialisation agents via either direct or indirect
social interaction (Subramanian and Subramanian 1995; Moschis and Churchill
1978). Previous marketing studies have adopted this theory to understand consumer
consumption behaviour through various socialisation agents such as celebrities,
family, or peers (North and Kotze 2001; Clark et al. 2001; Martin and Bush 2000).
For instance, Makgosa (2010) revealed that social learning theory can convincingly
explain the impact of celebrities on consumption behaviours. Aligned with Makgosa's
assertion, social learning theory is proposed as a contextual foundation in
understanding social media influencers as they represent a novel type of independent
third-party endorser (i.e., the concept is somehow similar to celebrity endorsement),
who can shape audience attitudes and decision-making through the use of social
media. Thus, social learning theory posits that an individual’s intention to purchase
products is highly influenced by the respondents' attitude and effectiveness of social
media influencers (i.e., source credibility, source attractiveness, product match-up and
meaning transfer) in promoting the products (see Figure 1).
Hypotheses Development
Source Credibility
Source credibility is widely used to analyse the effectiveness of endorsement
(Hovland and Weiss 1951; Taghipoorreyneh and de Run 2016). Specifically, a
credible endorser generally exhibits positive effect towards consumers’ perception
(Goldsmith et al. 2000). Trustworthiness and expertise are two elements that are
discussed within source credibility. Information presented by a credible source (e.g.
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 22
social media influencers) can affect consumers’ beliefs, opinions, attitudes and
behaviours (Wang et al. 2017). Additionally, influencers who have been viewed as
experts tend to be more persuasive (Aaker and Myers 1987) and capable of driving
consumer purchase intention (Ohanian 1991). Till and Busler (2000) stressed that
expertise has a positive influence on both attitude and purchase intention.
Trustworthiness represents an endorser's dignity, believability, and honesty (Erdogan
1999). Metzger et al. (2003) noted that an endorser who is perceived as highly
trustworthy and expertise would lead to consumers' indifference towards the
advertising message, resulting in higher acceptance of the delivered message.
Relatively, social media influencers who are held with high expertise and
trustworthiness are viewed as being more influential on their followers' behaviours.
As a result, the following hypotheses are proposed:
H1: There is a positive relationship between source credibility and
purchase intention.
H2: There is a positive relationship between source credibility and
consumer attitude.
Source Attractiveness
Physical attractiveness of social media influencers is perceived to have a high
tendency in driving the acceptance rate of advertising. Source attractiveness focusses
on an endorser's physical attributes or characteristics (Erdogan 1999). Numerous past
research have discovered a positive correlation between relationship between source
attractiveness and consumer attitude as well as purchase intention are positively
correlated (Petty et al. 1983; Erdogan 1999). McGuire (1985) noted that source
attractiveness directly influences the effectiveness of an endorsement. An attractive
social media influencer is able to affect consumers with positive outcomes. Endorsers
with attractive features can exert a positive attitude on consumers subsequently with a
purchasing intention (Till and Busler 2000). Social media influencers with amazing
appearance are more inclined to capture followers' attention. Hence, this study posits
the following hypotheses:
H3: There is a positive relationship between source attractiveness and
purchase intention.
H4: There is a positive relationship between source attractiveness and
consumer attitude.
Product Match-up
Congruency between an endorser and the product is vital to achieve excellent results.
The match-up hypothesis explores the fit between an endorser and the brand (Kamins
1990). Establishing an appropriate fit between an endorser and the brand may serve as
a successful marketing strategy (Till and Busler 1998). A significant match-up
relation often arises with emergence of a strong association between an endorser with
the product (Misra and Beatty 1990). In other words, social media influencers as the
spokesperson for a brand must exhibit an appropriate match with the product features.
An ideal match-up will result in positive attitude towards the endorsed brand (Kamins
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 23
and Gupta 1994). Shimp (2008) stressed that a match-up between an endorser and the
brand is the most fundamental goal in achieving consumers' purchase intention. Thus,
a perfect match between social media influencers and the product will significantly
strengthen the advertising results. Therefore, the hypotheses generated are as follow:
H5: There is a positive relationship between product celebrity match-up
and purchase intention.
H6: There is a positive relationship between product celebrity match-up
and consumer attitude.
Meaning Transfer
McCracken (1989) recommended that an endorsement effect is driven through
meaning transfer process, whereby an endorser's effectiveness often relies on his
abilities to convey product meanings alongside the endorsement process (McCracken
1989). This construct frames endorsement as a movement of meaning, which is
transferred from the endorser's personal and professional world to a particular product
and is consequently influential in building consumers' self-image through
consumption (McCracken 1989). Marketers believe that consumers tend to consume
products which are endorsed by their idol (Fowles 1996). In this study, social media
influencers integrate with products, leading to effects that will result on product’s
perception. There is a distinct positive relationship between consumers' purchase
intention towards brands endorsed through meaning transfer (McCracken 1986).
Empirical study has validated that meaning transfer exhibits a correlation on
consumer attitude and also influences purchase intentions (Peetz et al. 2004). Thus,
the following hypotheses are put forward:
H7: There is a positive relationship between meaning transfer and
purchase intention.
H8: There is a positive relationship between meaning transfer and
consumer attitude.
Consumer Attitude
Marketing researchers have shown interest in consumers' attitude, which is an
important knowledge for developing a successful marketing operation (Solomon et al.
2010). Attitude and purchase intention exhibit a parallel relationship in consumer
studies (Ting and de Run 2015; Tarkiainen and Sundqvist 2005). Relatively, Chen
(2007) proposed that favourable attitude towards a specific product is a dominant
predictor that can lead to consumers' purchase intention. Similarly, a favourable
attitude towards product endorsed by social media influencers will impact on higher
chance of purchase intention. Based on these, the following hypothesis is generated
as:
H9: There is a positive relationship between consumer attitude and
purchase intention.
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 24
Mediating Role of Consumer Attitude
In this study, consumer attitude relates to both favourable and unfavourable beliefs
(Phelps and Hoy 1996) towards social media influencers. Laroche et al. (1996)
highlighted that endorsers can alter consumer preferences and inevitably create a
sense of willingness-to-purchase. Source credibility is credited with improving
consumer attitudes (Brinol et al. 2004), leading to an increase in product purchase
intentions (Harmon and Coney 1982). Evidently, there is a positive correlation
between attitude and credible endorsers as well as purchase intention (Chan et al.
2013). Consumers who harbour positive attitude towards the social media influencers'
credibility have a relatively higher purchase intention. Hence, the hypothesis
generated is as follows:
H10: Consumer attitude mediates the relationship between source
credibility and purchase intention.
In addition, consumer attitude towards a celebrity's endorsement can be enhanced
through the endorser's attractiveness (Bardia et al. 2011). In other words, a charming
and well-liked endorser plays an influential role as a brand spokesperson (Atkin et al.
1984; Freiden 1984) who can stimulate consumers' positive belief which in turn,
results in a desire to purchase decision. Kahle and Homer (1985) asserted that
advertisements which are being endorsed by an attractive source could incur a change
in consumers' attitude and purchase intention. This phenomenon is reflected in the
context of this study, whereby, consumer attitude can be highly influenced by the
attractiveness of social media influencers.
H11: Consumer attitude mediates the relationship between source
attractiveness and purchase intention.
The perfect match-up between a product's characteristics and an endorser's image is a
critical decision in the endorsement process, as Choi and Rifon (2012) revealed that
an endorser and product congruence can generate an indirect positive effect on
consumers' attitude towards an advertisement. Identically, Pradhan et al. (2016) also
asserted that match-up hypothesis has a positive correlation with consumer attitude
and it will result in a significant influence on purchase intention. So, the following
hypothesis is presented:
H12: Consumer attitude mediates the relationship between product
celebrity match-up and purchase intention.
Goldsmith et al. (2000) also affirmed that endorsers are regarded as a dominant
mechanism in promoting a product, as they can transfer their image to a specific
product by transforming an unknown into a recognised product by driving positive
feelings and purchase intention among the consumers. This clearly shows that
consumers are able to exert higher purchase intention when they are invariably
imbued with a favourable sense towards the endorsement's delivered meaning
(Thwaites et al. 2012). Eventually, the following hypothesis is offered:
H13: Consumer attitude mediates the relationship between meaning
transfer and purchase intention.
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 25
Figure 1: Research Framework
Methodology
Sampling and Data Collection
Survey questionnaires were distributed to respondents for data collection. In this
study, the purposive sampling technique was adopted by selecting current public
university students in Malaysia. G-Power software calculated that the minimum
sample size required for this study was 129 samples (Faul et al. 2007). Yet, in order to
minimise errors in completing the questionnaires, a total of 200 questionnaires were
distributed. Frequency of respondents’ profile is displayed in Table 1. Respondents in
this study comprised of 56.5% females and 43.5% males, predominantly millennial
(90%) whose ages were between 21-30 years old. In terms of education level, 85.5%
of the respondents possessed a basic degree, 8.0% with a master education, and 4.50%
currently had PhD qualifications. The least in the distribution accounted for a mere
2% which consisted students at diploma level.
Table 1: Respondents’ Demographic Profiles
Demographic
Frequency
Gender
Male
87
Female
113
Age
20 years old and below
20
21-30 years old
Education Level
Diploma
Basic Degree
Master
PhD
180
4
171
16
9
90.0%
2.0%
85.5%
8.0%
4.5%
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 26
Questionnaire and Measurements
Demographic profile constituted the first section of the questionnaire, followed by the
proposed abstract variables in this study. All latent variables were measured based on
previously validated measurements. Firstly, dimension of source credibility namely
expertise (α=0.89) and trustworthiness (α=0.92) as well as source attractiveness
(α=0.88) is adopted from study conducted by Ohanian (1990). Secondly, product
match-up (α=0.85) is adopted from the research of Ohanian (1990). Thirdly, both
measurements for meaning transfer (α=0.83) and customer attitude (α=0.87) are
adopted from the study of Goldsmith et al. (2000). Lastly, measurement for purchase
intention (α=0.92) is adopted from Kumar's (2010) study.
As one of the procedural remedies to reduce the common method variance issue and
avoid respondents' consistent answers in pattern result, a different likert scale was
used to measure the variables. All the exogenous variables (i.e.: source credibility,
source attractiveness, product match-up, and meaning transfer) were measured using a
5-point likert scale, whereas a 7-point likert scale was executed for endogenous
variable (purchase intention) and mediator (consumer attitude).
Data Analysis
Common Method Variance
Common Method Variance analysis was conducted prior to other analysis tests. Based
on Harman’s Single Factor technique (Podsakoff et al. 2003), the largest variance
explained by the first factor was 46.272% of the total variance. These results indicated
that no general factor emerged from the factor analysis, thus indicating that common
method bias was not significant in this data set (Podsakoff and Organ 1986).
Measurement Model
Structural Equaling Modelling (SEM) software was used for data analysis throughout
this study. SEM is also known as a second-generation technique that offers
simultaneous modeling of relationships among multiple independent and dependent
constructs (Gefen et al. 2000). In comparison to CB-SEM, PLS-SEM was chosen to
comply with the predictive oriented objective of this study (Hair et al. 2017).
The measurement model assessment results are displayed in Table 2. All five
reflective constructs in this study fulfilled the requirements, whereby the loading
exceeded value of 0.708, composite reliability (CR) were above the minimum
threshold of 0.7 and AVEs (Average Variance Exacted) were greater than 0.5 (Hair,
Hult, Ringle and Sarstedt 2017). As a result, all constructs met the reliability and
convergent validity requirements. Discriminant validity was assessed using
Heterotrait-Monotrait (HTMT) ratio of correlations technique (Henseler et al. 2015).
As shown in Table 3, all values for reflective constructs passed the threshold value of
HTMT <0.85 (Kline 2010) and HTMT<0.90 (Gold et al. 2001), thereby indicating
that discriminate validity of the measurement model was ascertained.
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 27
Table 2: Measurement Model for Reflective Constructs
Construct
Indicator
Loading
AVE
CR
Source
Attractiveness
A1
0.798
0.622
0.908
A2
0.772
A3
0.832
A4
0.724
A5
0.805
A6
0.799
Product Match-up
PM1
0.827
0.686
0.897
PM2
0.784
PM3
0.865
PM4
0.836
Meaning Transfer
MT1
0.864
0.746
0.898
MT2
0.877
MT3
0.850
Consumer
Attitude
CA1
0.820
0.759
0.940
CA2
0.853
CA3
0.909
CA4
0.898
CA5
0.874
Purchase
Intention
PI1
0.926
0.858
0.960
PI2
0.930
PI3
0.940
PI4
0.907
Table 3: Discriminant Validity using Heterotrait-Monotrait (HTMT) Criterion (2015)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
1. CA
2.
EXP
0.644
3. MT
0.737
0.788
4. PM
0.685
0.748
0.870
5. PI
0.855
0.653
0.765
0.751
6. SA
0.665
0.754
0.838
0.773
0.666
7. SC
0.605
Formative
0.771
0.713
0.600
0.731
8. TW
0.478
0.768
0.641
0.574
0.460
0.602
Formative
Note: CA (Consumer Attitude), EXP (Expertise), MT (Meaning Transfer), PM (Product Match-up), PI
(Purchase Intention), SA (Source Attractiveness), SC (Source Credibility) and TW (Trustworthiness)
Formative Measurement (Measurement Model)
Convergent validity was assessed using redundancy analysis to validate the formative
measures (Chin 1988). In Table 4, all formative measures that yielded a path
coefficient 0.778 (>0.70) signified that all formatively measured constructs have
sufficient degrees of convergent validity (Sarstedt, Wilczynski and Melewar 2013).
Sub-dimension (expertise and trustworthiness) yielded a VIF 1.649 (<5), indicating
that multicollinearity issue was inexistent in this model. There was demonstrated a
significant result for all the formative sub-dimensions.
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 28
Table 4: Measurement Properties for Formative Construct
HOC
Construct
LOC Dimension
Convergent
Validity
Weights
VIF
t-value
Sig.
Source
Credibility
i) Expertise
0.797
0.598
1.649
28.893**
0.000
ii) Trustworthiness
0.509
1.649
28.193**
0.000
Note: Higher-Order Component (HOC); Lower-Order Component (LOC);
*p< 0.05; **p<0.01; HOC (High order construct), LOC (Low order construct)
Structural Model
Prior to evaluating the structural model, collinearity issue was first assessed. The VIF
values in the extent of 1.961 to 3.036, which were below the threshold value of 5
(Hair et al. 2014) did not indicate any lateral collinearity issues in this model.
Following this, path-coefficient was assessed to examine the significance of
hypotheses using the bootstrap re-sampling technique (5000 re-sample). Based on
results in Table 5, six out of nine direct relationship hypotheses were supported. The
results illustrated that source attractiveness (β=0.193, t=2.567, p<0.005), product
match-up (β=0.199, t=2.557, p<0.005), meaning transfer (β=0.295, t=3.567, p<0.005)
exhibited a positive relationship with consumer attitude, thus H4, H6, and H8 were
supported. Subsequently, product match-up (β=0.206, t=2.722, p<0.005), meaning
transfer (β=0.132, t=2.043, p<0.005) and consumer attitude (β=0.572, t=9.905,
p<0.005) showed a positive correlation with purchase intention, whereby H5, H7 and
H9 were significant. In contrast, there was an insignificant relationship between
source credibility and purchase intention (β=0.004, t=0.074, p>0.005), source
credibility and consumer attitude (β=0.108, t=1.395, p>0.005) and source
attractiveness and purchase intention (β=0.029, t=0.527, p>0.005), therefore H1, H2
and H3 were rejected.
Table 5: Path-coefficient Assessment
Hypothesis
Relationship
Std. Beta
(β)
Std. Error
t-value
p-value
Result
H1
SC -> PI
0.004
0.054
0.074
0.470
Not Significant
H2
SC -> CA
0.108
0.077
1.395
0.082
Not Significant
H3
SA -> PI
0.029
0.055
0.527
0.299
Not Significant
H4
SA -> CA
0.193
0.075
2.567
0.005
Significant
H5
PM -> PI
0.206
0.076
2.722**
0.003
Significant
H6
PM -> CA
0.199
0.078
2.557
0.005
Significant
H7
H8
MT -> PI
MT -> CA
0.132
0.295
0.064
0.081
2.043*
3.657**
0.021
0.000
Significant
Significant
H9
CA -> PI
0.572
0.058
9.905
0.000
Significant
Note: CA (Consumer Attitude), MT (Meaning Transfer), PM (Product Match-up), PI (Purchase
Intention), SA (Source Attractiveness), SC (Source Credibility)
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Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 29
Bootstrapping procedures were also applied to examine the mediation effect (Preacher
and Hayes 2008). Results displayed in Table 6 indicated that indirect effect for H11,
H12, and H13 were supported. These hypotheses resulted in an indirect effect of
β=0.110, β=0.114, β=0.169 and with t-values of 2.404, 2.461 and 3.349 respectively.
In addition, mediation effects were present when the 95% bootstrap confidence
interval did not straddle a 0 between the upper and lower intervals (Preacher and
Hayes 2008). This condition was relevant for H11 (0.041, 0.190), H12 (0.042, 0.193)
and H13 (0.092, 0.253) where 0 was not straddled in between, indicating that
mediation effects existed in these three hypotheses. In other words, H11, H12 and
H13 were supported except H10.
Table 6: Hypothesis Testing For Indirect Relationship
Hypothesis
Relationship
Indirect
Effect
Confidence
Interval
t-value
Decision
H10
SC->CA->PI
0.062
(-0.012, 0.138)
1.363
Not Supported
H11
SA->CA->PI
0.110
(0.041, 0.190)
2.404
Supported
H12
PM->CA->PI
0.114
(0.042, 0.193)
2.461
Supported
H13
MT->CA->PI
0.169
(0.092, 0.253)
3.349
Supported
Note: CA (Consumer Attitude), MT (Meaning Transfer), PM (Product Match-up), PI (Purchase
Intention), SA (Source Attractiveness), SC (Source Credibility)
Level of R2 (Co-efficient of determination) were subsequently assessed. Source
credibility, source attractiveness, product match-up, and meaning transfer construct
accounted for 49% of the variance in explaining consumer attitude. Meanwhile,
consumer attitude accounted for 70.80% of variance in purchase intention. Hence, the
R2 score was considered substantial in the explanatory power, as the R2 value was
greater than 0.26 (Cohen 1988). The ensuing analysis examined the effect size to
evaluate changes in the R2 when an exogenous was removed from the structural
model. In explaining consumer attitude, source attractiveness (0.030), product match-
up (0.032), and meaning transfer (0.060) showed a small effect size whereas source
credibility (0.011) indicated a trivial effect size. Consequently, in term of purchase
intention, consumer attitude (0.571) showed a large effect size, product match-up
(0.058), and meaning transfer (0.020) exerted a small effect size, followed by source
credibility (0.000), source attractiveness (0.001) with trivial effect size.
Lastly, predictive relevance was evaluated using Stone-Geisser’s (Geisser 1974;
Stone 1974). The Q² values for consumer attitude (0.363) and purchase intention
(0.598) were larger than 0, thus indicating the model's predictive relevance and
validity.
Discussion
This study revealed the effects of source credibility, source attractiveness, product
match-up, and meaning transfer on consumer’s attitude and purchase intention.
Firstly, source credibility of social media influencers was found to have an
insignificant relationship with attitude and purchase intention (H1 and H2 were
rejected). In this study, respondents acknowledged social media influencers' lack of
credibility towards the product that they endorsed. The main reason was identified as
social media influencers' inadequate expertise knowledge about the endorsed product.
Similarly, Evans (2013) discovered that endorsers who were beyond their respective
expertise fields could indirectly impair consumers’ perceived images, causing
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 30
ultimate negative purchase intentions. From consumers' perspectives, it was
challenging for them to exert positive attitude towards social media influencers'
credibility, especially with unsocial media influencers who were completely
unaffiliated with the information that they shared.
Secondly, source attractiveness of social media influencers failed to influence
consumers' purchase intention (H3 was rejected). The result was consistent with a
prior study by Ohanian (1991), which revealed that source of attractiveness did not
have any impact on consumers' purchase intention. Parallel to Obanian's study, Till
and Busler (1998) also argued that attractiveness is not a powerful dimension to
generate purchase behavior due to a substantially weak logical link between an
attractive endorser and purchasing intention. Despite the failure of social media
influencers' attractiveness to influence purchase intention, the influencers remained
significant to stimulate respondents' positive attitude (H4).
Next, social media influencers’ product match-up was found to be significant with
purchase intention and consumer attitude (H5 and H6). Product match-up hypothesis
proved that product-related messages conveyed by an endorser should be congruent to
establish an effective advertising outcome (Kamins and Gupta 1994). Moreover,
numerous endorsement literatures had highlighted the importance of congruence
between a product or brand and its endorser as a key criteria for advertising success
(Carrillat, d'Astous and Lazure 2013; Fleck, Korchia and Le Roy 2012; Gurel-Atay
and Kahle 2010; Lee and Thorson 2008). Likewise in this study, millennials perceived
congruency between social media influencers and product can highly impact their
purchase intention.
Subsequently, the results revealed that meaning transfer of social media influencers
has a positive relationship in illustrating consumer attitude and purchase intention (H7
and H8). Consumers who connect the symbolism associated with endorsers and the
endorsed brands can inevitably interpret and transfer the brand meanings, resulting in
higher purchases of the particular brands (Escalas and Bettman 2005). This research
exemplified that respondents were more likely to accept meanings from brands
endorsed by social media influencers, with whom they perceived as a resemblance to
themselves or whom they admired.
Moreover, a positive relationship hypothesis between customer attitude and purchase
intention was valid (H9). The ultimate intention to influence purchasing a particular
product is highly subjective to a person’s belief (Ha and Janda 2012). Results in this
study suggested that respondents with a favorable attitude towards social media
influencers would generally harbour an intention to purchase the influencers' endorsed
product. Similarly, this outcome matched with previous studies by Ha and Janda
(2012) and pez Mosquera et al. (2014) which proved the positive impact of
attitudes on purchase intention.
Lastly, consumer attitude was proven to be significantly mediate the relationship
between source attractiveness, product match-up, and meaning transfer (H11 to H13).
In this study, attractiveness of social media influencers would form a highly
favourable attitude among respondents towards a brand or product, resulting in
purchase intention. This phenomenon is justifiable in the context of social media
influencers, where attitude plays a significant role in mediating the fit between a
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 31
product, the celebrity and purchase intention for a advertised product. The mediating
finding was also similar with McCracken's (1989) study, in which he proposed that
meaning transfer would affect consumer attitudes as well as consumption of an
endorsed product.
Implication of the Study
In the extent of theoretical implication in this study, the researcher applied the social
learning theory from marketing field to strengthen the understanding of relationship
between effectiveness of social media influencers towards consumer purchase
intention. Compelling social media influencers were found to exert a positive impact
on consumers' purchase intention. The social learning theory proposes that behaviours
are learned from the environment through observational learning process (Bandura
1963), hence it aptly supported findings in this study. Underlying the social learning
theory in this study, four variables were used, namely source credibility, source
attractiveness, product match-up, and meaning transfer which could influence
consumers' attitude and consequent purchase intention. Hence, the outcome of this
study validated the mediating effect findings of consumer attitude between the
effectiveness of social media influencers (i.e., Meaning Transfer, Product Match-up,
and Source of Attractiveness) and purchase intention.
From a managerial implication perspective, this study offered marketers several
practical considerations in selecting a social media influencer, tailored for an
advertisement to gain competitive advantages in the market. It is the marketer's
prerogative and discretion to select a social media influencer who can attract targeted
audience and captivate them with an impressive advertising message. Based on the
data analysis, consumer attitude has the most influential effect size towards purchase
intention. Therefore, marketers should pay attention on selecting an appropriate social
media influencer to increase consumer attitude as well as influence purchase
intention.
Limitations and Future Research
In this study, the data should primarily be based on a larger sample size to explore this
topic and ultimately produce highly extensive results. The respondents' backgrounds
were also a restricting factor, as they were predominantly teenagers with minimal
income. Therefore, they may not be a good predictor of purchasing power. Future
studies should expand to a wider range of millennial consumers, and potentially other
generation cohorts to achieve a set of more credible findings. In addition, respondents'
questionnaire answers were generally based on their prior purchasing experiences. As
an example, respondents with previous positive or negative purchasing experience
could inevitably influence their attitudes and purchase intentions. This could lead to
high probability of bias in the questionnaire answers, hence highly impacting the
collected data.
Future research can consider administering a fictitious brand or social media
influencers to eliminate the potential bias that could influence the respondents'
questionnaire answers. Similarly, communication can be added as another construct in
the model, as Jaworski and Kohli (2006) explained that communication is the first
interaction between companies and consumers in the value creation process. It is
Lim, Radzol, Cheah and Wong, 2017
Asian Journal of Business Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2017 32
important for marketers to invest a substantial amount of time in conducting a genuine
and real-time dialogue with customers to promote their products. Tailored
promotional content ideally resonates well with the target audience, and can
simultaneously lead to an increase in the rate of reach.
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