DOI: 10.1177/10963480231223150 ISSN: 1096-3480

When Social Media Influencer Endorsement Backfires: Unpacking Fallout From Explicit Endorsements Across Brand Equity Levels

Bobbie Rathjens, Aili Wu, Lu Zhang, Wei Wei
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Education

By applying the two-step flow theory, this research examines if the level of brand equity impacts consumers’ attitudes toward social media influencers and consumers’ visit intention, and if influencers’ recommendation type plays a moderating role in the process. This research employs a scenario-based experimental design. Study 1 examines the main effect of brand equity on consumers’ attitudes toward the influencer and consumers’ visit intention. Results demonstrated that high brand equity enhances consumers’ positive attitudes toward the influencer and visit intention. Study 2 examines the moderating effect of recommendation type on consumers’ attitudes and visit intention. Findings revealed that while explicit recommendations of high-equity brands yield higher visit intention and attitudes towards the influencer, explicit recommendations of low-equity brands backfire, resulting in lower attitudes toward the influencer. Additionally, trust emerges as a significant mediator when recommendations are explicit rather than implicit. When the recommendation is implicit, there is no (indirect) effect.

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