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Promoting sustainability on Instagram: How sponsorship disclosures and benefit appeals affect the credibility of sinnfluencers

Anna Schorn (Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Medienforschung, Universität Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland)
Friederike Vinzenz (Department of Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland)
Werner Wirth (Department of Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 11 January 2022

Issue publication date: 6 July 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

When promoting sustainable products on Instagram, influencer marketing can be an effective tool when they are perceived as credible because consumers usually cannot verify the sustainability of products themselves. However, when they disclose their posts as an ad, their credibility might be weakened which can lead to less interest in the product. Moreover, influencer marketing strategies usually focus on personal benefits and experiences, while advertisements for sustainable products emphasize altruistic motives. The purpose of this study is to investigate if the interest in the product and the credibility might be affected by such different benefit appeals.

Design/methodology/approach

A 2 (sponsorship: no disclosure vs disclosure) × 2 (benefit: ecological vs personal) between-subjects experiment with influencer posts promoting a sustainable travel accommodation was conducted to investigate how ad disclosures and benefits appeals affect the credibility of sustainability influencers and the interest in sustainable products among young consumers.

Findings

Disclosures and benefits appeals have no direct impact on the interest in further information about the product but on the credibility of the influencer. If an Instagram post for a sustainable accommodation was labeled as sponsored, the perceived expertise and likeability of the influencer were diminished. However, highlighting personal benefits instead of ecological benefits increased the influencers’ credibility compared to appeals emphasizing benefits for the environment.

Originality/value

In addition to sponsorship disclosures, other strategies of advertising literacy might be required to show young consumers how to cope with influencer advertising. Furthermore, it seems to be more important that influencers are popular and liked by their followers than that they are trusted.

Keywords

Citation

Schorn, A., Vinzenz, F. and Wirth, W. (2022), "Promoting sustainability on Instagram: How sponsorship disclosures and benefit appeals affect the credibility of sinnfluencers", Young Consumers, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 345-361. https://doi.org/10.1108/YC-07-2021-1355

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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