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How the ‘benign envy’ of influencers can drive online purchases
By our News Team | 2023
Consumer must feel that buying the product will somehow elevate them so that they sit more squarely alongside the influencer they follow.
In a commercial world often dominated by social media, new research in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising reveals a mysterious, invisible force that lurks behind many a purchase decision when social media personalities, or influencers, are involved.
This force of ‘benign envy’ could be used to guide marketing and advertising strategies towards the most effective influencers and allow more persuasive campaigns to be developed for a range of products and services.
Photo by George Milton from Pexels
Researchers from the School of Business and Economics at the Universiti Putra Malaysia have used well-established social comparison theory to investigate the connection between benign envy and an audience’s desire to purchase products promoted by influencers.
Fundamentally, consumers who identify with a particular influencer and perceive themselves as being a peer, or otherwise similar, to that influencer will be more inclined to follow that influencer’s recommendations.
To maximise the effectiveness of their influencer marketing, companies need to carefully select those influencers with whom they wish to showcase their products and services, as these must align with the influencer’s own preferences, values and way of life.
Campaign must match the audiences’ benign envy
Moreover, a campaign must also match with the benign envy felt by the influencer’s audience.
Cynically, perhaps, the consumer must feel that buying the product will somehow elevate them so that they sit more squarely alongside the influencer they follow. Influencers often embody the ideal self-image of their audience and the lifestyle and status they crave.
Consumers following influencer recommendations will somehow imagine they are closing in on this ideal by making the right purchases guided by their influencer, regardless of how real that ideal actually is.
Indeed, as with many kinds of aspirational endeavours, a single purchase may well make the consumer feel better, but its impact is often short-lived and there’s always another recommendation from their influencer to envy.
You can find out more about the research ‘Xiaofan Yue et al, The role of audiences’ benign envy in influencer marketing’ here.
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