Avatars of influence: understanding how virtual influencers trigger consumer engagement on online booking platforms

Naeem Akhtar, Zahid Hameed, Tahir Islam, Manoj Kumar Pant, Anshuman Sharma, Raouf Ahmad Rather, Aleksandra Kuzior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Given the existing gaps and the widespread popularity of virtual influencers, this study develops and applies a paradigm based on social influence theory to probe the effect of virtual influencers on consumers' behavioral engagement. We explore the effect of virtual influencers on consumers' normative and informational social influence, which, in turn, affects their behavioral engagement. We also investigate the relationships between virtual influencers and normative and informational social influences, using perceived interactivity and source credibility as boundary conditions. Through stratified sampling, we collected 443 responses from consumers in the hospitality industry. Structural equation modeling was utilized in AMOS 26.0 for analysis. The findings exhibit a positive association between virtual influencers and both informational and normative social influence, as well as behavioral engagement. Furthermore, this study confirms that customers' normative and informational social influence positively causes behavioral engagement. The significance of both boundary conditions is further highlighted by this research. This work improves theoretical knowledge in social impact, trust, and engagement, with implications for developing marketing strategies on online platforms. Additionally, we acknowledge limitations and offer suggestions for future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103742
JournalJournal of Retailing and Consumer Services
Volume78
Early online date15 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

Keywords

  • Behavioral engagement
  • Informational social influence
  • Normative social influence
  • Perceived interactivity
  • Source credibility
  • Virtual influencers

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