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Parasocial relationships with micro-influencers: do sponsorship disclosure and electronic word-of-mouth disrupt?

Jie Sheng (Queen Mary University of London, London, UK)
Yi Hui Lee (Shopee, Taipei, China)
Hao Lan (University of Essex, Colchester, UK)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 7 April 2023

Issue publication date: 21 May 2024

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine whether and how the effect of intimate relationships with micro-influencers on customer behaviour is interrupted by external cues such as sponsorship disclosures and negative electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM).

Design/methodology/approach

The study worked with Instagram micro-influences to conduct a vignette survey with four experimental scenarios.

Findings

The benefits of parasocial relationships (PSR) in enhancing customer engagement (CE), brand preference (BP) and purchase intention (PI) cannot be sustained in the presence of external interruptive cues. For micro-influencers, whilst sponsorship disclosures do not moderate the influence of PSR, customers are considerably sensitive to negative eWOM or when the two cues co-occur.

Originality/value

This study focusses on micro-influencers and investigates whether the follower–micro-influencer bond can be moderated by external cues including sponsorship disclosure and negative eWOM.

Keywords

Citation

Sheng, J., Lee, Y.H. and Lan, H. (2024), "Parasocial relationships with micro-influencers: do sponsorship disclosure and electronic word-of-mouth disrupt?", Internet Research, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 849-867. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-12-2021-0903

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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