Social media influencers - why we cannot ignore them : An exploratory study about how consumers perceive the influence of social media influencers during the different stages of the purchase decision process
Abstract: Social media is connecting individuals all over the world, where the power of interaction and information sharing has shifted from companies to consumers. Since companies now have a harder time reaching out to consumers, social media influencers have been used as a solution to influence the purchase decisions of consumers and thereby drive purchases. However, while social media influencers are said to have an impact on the purchase decisions of consumers, less is actually known about the influence on all stages of the purchase decision process. As the purchase decision is not solely based on its own but rather follows from a series of steps, also called the purchase decision process, more research based on this area is of importance. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to explore how consumers perceive the influence of social media influencers during the different stages of the purchase decision process. In order to gather consumers’ perceptions about the influence of social media influencers, a qualitative study has been conducted where thoughts and experiences of participants have been studied. The findings of this study show that social media influencers ability to provide content, expertise, attractiveness, social identity and trust shows evidence of how the influence of social media influencers play an important role in each and every stage of the purchase decision process of consumers. The implications of this thesis is that the study could be of use to companies who seek to engage in influencer marketing and want to better understand how social media influencers affect consumers. The original value of the study is that it acknowledges how the influence of social media influencers affects all stages of the purchase decision process, as no previous study has explored this context.
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