To buy or not to buy: How self-congruent influencers affect your purchase intention

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The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the effects of actual and ideal self-congruence on para-social relationships with influencers on Instagram, which influences followers’ purchase intention. Besides, engagement was hypothesized to influence both para-social relationships, and vice versa, and purchase intention. An online survey was sent out to discover the relationships between these variables. Factor analysis showed that para-social relationships were split up in passive para-social relationships and active para-social relationships. First, the analyses showed that actual self-congruence positively influenced both passive and active para-social relationships, whereas ideal self-congruence only positively influenced active para-social relationships. There was no difference in strength between the effects of actual and ideal self-congruence on passive para-social relationships. Next, only passive para-social relationships showed to have a direct positive influence on purchase intention and engagement, whereas active para-social relationships indirectly influenced purchase intention via engagement. Besides, engagement both directly and indirectly influenced purchase intention, mediated by passive para-social relationships. Lastly, men having passive para-social relationships and men being engaged with the influencer had a higher purchase intention than women. The results of this study are valuable for brands and marketers working or wanting to work with influencers and for influencers themselves. Keywords: self-congruence, para-social relationship, purchase intention, influencer marketing, Instagram
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