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EMAC 2019 Annual Conference

Parasocial Relationships and Instagram Celebrities

Published: May 28, 2019


Sarah Dodds, Massey University; Alexandra Hess, Massey University; Nadia Rahman, Massey University


celebrity endorsement; Instagram; parasocial relationship


In this research we investigate the impact of celebrity product endorsement on Instagram and its effects on consumers’ purchase likelihood. In particular, we examine how consumers react to traditional compared to non-traditional (i.e. Instagram) celebrities depending on consumers’ perception of their parasocial relationship towards the celebrity. We propose a moderated mediation model with parasocial relationship as moderator and credibility as mediator. Consistent with our model, across two product brands using an online experiment, we find that a strong parasocial relationship is paramount for Instagram celebrities, yet less critical for traditional celebrities (in terms of moving consumers to purchase). Further, a weak parasocial relationship with Instagram celebrities can be detrimental, but has little impact on traditional celebrities. We find that this effect is mediated by the perceived celebrity credibility. Implications for brand managers utilising celebrities for product endorsement are discussed.