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Wear in or wear out: how consumers respond to repetitive influencer marketing

Ruibin Geng (School of Economics and Management, Xidian University, Xian, China)
Xi Chen (School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China)
Shichao Wang (Alibaba Business School, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, China)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 17 April 2023

Issue publication date: 21 May 2024

2026

Abstract

Purpose

Endorsement marketing has been widely used to generate consumer attention, interest and purchase decisions among targeted audiences. Internet celebrities who become famous on the Internet are dependent on strategic intimacy to appeal to their followers. Our study aims to examine how multiple exposures to Internet celebrity endorsements influence consumers’ click and purchase decisions in the context of influencer marketing.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a unique and representative dataset, the authors first model consumers’ choices for clicks and purchases with two panel fixed-effect logit models linking clicks and purchases with the frequency of exposure to Internet celebrity endorsement. To further control the endogeneity produced by the intercorrelation between the click and purchase models, the authors also adopt the two-stage Heckman probit structure to jointly estimate the two models using Maximum Likelihood Estimation. Robustness checks confirm the effectiveness of the models.

Findings

The results suggest that Internet celebrity endorsement plays a significant role in bringing referral traffic to e-commerce sites but is less helpful in affecting conversion to sales. The impact of repetitive Internet celebrity endorsements on consumers’ click decisions is U-shaped, but the role of Internet celebrities as online retailers will “shape-flip” this relationship to a negative linear relation.

Originality/value

Our study is the first to investigate the repetitive exposure effect of Internet celebrity endorsement. The results show a contradictory pattern with a wear-out effect of repetition in the advertising literature. This is the first study to show how the endorsing self, which is a common business model in influencer marketing, moderates the effectiveness of influencer marketing.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The first author of this paper is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 71902152), Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China (Nos. 19YJC630042), and Youth Talent Promotion Plan of Xi'an Association for Science and Technology (Nos. 095920221339). The second author of this paper is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 72231009 and 71972168). The third author of this paper is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 71931009) and the Major Project of National Social Science Fund of China (Nos. 21&ZD119). The authors are grateful to the editors and reviewers for their invaluable and insightful comments that have greatly helped to improve this work. The authors also appreciate the comments made by the audience at the PACIS 2019 conference upon which this manuscript is developed.

Citation

Geng, R., Chen, X. and Wang, S. (2024), "Wear in or wear out: how consumers respond to repetitive influencer marketing", Internet Research, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 810-848. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-01-2022-0075

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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