Celebrity and Influencer in a Fan Economy: Unfolding the Fans' Roles in Enhancing Endorsement Effects

Celebrity and Influencer in a Fan Economy: Unfolding the Fans' Roles in Enhancing Endorsement Effects

Kineta Hung
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3323-9.ch018
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Celebrity endorsement (CE) constitutes a popular marketing strategy. A large body of research and practices recognize the salience of celebrity traits such as credibility and attractiveness in enhancing endorsement effectiveness. According to these approaches, celebrity fans are at the receiving end of the marketing strategy, and they function primarily as brand purchasers. Their varied roles in enhancing CE are less understood. Aided by the proliferation of social media, fans are connected nationally and globally to form not only a formidable force but also a talent pool. Together, they play an increasingly important role in the CE process. This chapter investigated the changing role of celebrity fans and their contributions. Both traditional celebrities and social media influencers were examined. In both cases, the fans are active shapers of the endorsement process. This is a recent development, where the celebrity, their fans, and the endorsed brand are forming a co-creation platform. The implications are discussed.
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Celebrity Endorsement

Celebrity endorsement (CE) has been a popular advertising strategy over the past five decades. About 25% of today’s ads deploy celebrities as their core appeal (Elberse & Verleun, 2012; Sliburyte, 2009). In some Asian countries such as China, the rate is even higher at 70% (Hsu & McDonald, 2002). The popularity of this practice suggests that CE is an attractive and highly effective advertising strategy. Nevertheless, its ubiquity has led some critics to wonder if the overuse of CE in some industries such as fashion and cosmetics has reduced celebrities to “simply wallpapers” in these ads (Roberts, 2009). Given the different perspectives and opinions, it is not surprising that there is a vast literature aimed at understanding the workings and effects of CE. Such an understanding would allow marketers to take advantage of this strategy’s strengths and at the same time reduce its weaknesses that may lead to advertising wastage.

There are three widely recognized approaches in the CE literature, namely, source credibility, affect/image transfer, and image congruence (Bergkvist & Zhou, 2016). These approaches emphasize the characteristics of the celebrity such as their credibility and attractiveness as source factors that can exert positive CE effects. Additionally, the “fit” between characteristics of the celebrity and the advertised product or brand provide another factor that enhances CE influences. While these approaches have generated much insight on the research topic, together they have paid limited attention to the role and involvement of celebrity fans. It is presumed under these approaches that celebrity fans are passive and play a limited role during the CE process.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Natural Endorsement: This form of endorsement features the celebrity using the featured brand in everyday settings. As a result, it is more naturalistic and blurs the line between a celebrity user and a celebrity endorser.

KOL: KOL stands for Key Opinion Leaders and in theory, a KOL may or may not have an online platform. Yet, in China, the term is most often used to refer to online KOL so that it is similar to social media influencer or micro-celebrity.

Mr. Bags: Tao Liang (aka Mr. Bags) is a top fashion blogger with millions of followers. He specializes in luxury handbags and has collaborated with a long line of luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chanel, and Christian Dior. He has won multiple awards for his work, including being on Forbes Asia’s “30 Under 30” list in 2018.

Para-Social Relationship: A one-sided relationship whereby fans regard the celebrity as their acquaintance or friend, though the celebrity has no knowledge of the fans.

Celebrity Endorsement: A commercial activity whereby a celebrity becomes the spokesperson of a brand or the products of an enterprise.

Credibility: Credibility refers to the believability of a source or message. A credible celebrity is one that can be believed or trusted.

Fan Economy: Fan economy is an operational mode that focuses on the customers’ emotional capital and leverages their loyalty towards a celebrity or brand to obtain economic and social benefits. Different from the traditional economy, consumers are taking a leading role in a fan economy.

Influencers: They are third party members who exercise influence over an organization and its potential customers. Influencers are believed to be well-connected and are trend-setters to create an impact on customers.

Co-Creation: A collaborative innovation process that allows and encourages customers to take on a more active role to work with brand experts to create new value for a brand.

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