Social media is a fast-growing marketing tool. Social media can enhance our ability to collaborate, share and take collective action outside the traditional institutional and organizational framework. Nowadays, many companies tend to use social media to attract and communicate with consumers. Social media is largely considered an effective mechanism to help companies’ marketing goals and strategies; especially in areas related to customer engagement, customer relationship management and communication. (Filo,2015). Many social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and others are used by marketers.
Instagram is one of the most popular and fast-growing social media platforms used by marketers.
Instagram is a video and photo sharing social media and it was created in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. It is a mobile application for smartphones available for free in the App Store and Google Play. Instagram has become the attractive social media platform with 1 billion monthly active users. The most frequently used age group of Instagram is young adults.
Instagram is a place where young adults go to discover what is new and what is next. The platform is uniquely appealing because it captures the immediacy of the moment, igniting creative expression and providing connections to like-minded communities. As a primarily photo sharing application, Instagram has become a communication and marketing tool to display products with visual descriptions. So, if companies apply the right strategy for their services or products to increase the consumer buying behavior, Instagram can be a profitable social media platform. One of the strategies can be use is Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement.
Instagram has created a new kind of celebrity landscape called “micro-celebrities.” Micro-celebrities are neither traditional celebrities, like famous actors or athletes, nor are their posts the traditional advertisements (Abidin, 2016). Strong social relationships have been formed between users and followers through social media platforms, such as Instagram (Wilcox & Stephen, 2014). Micro-celebrities are not famous in common way but use social media to create follower bases, attract the followers out of their friends and acquaintances. Micro-celebrities have been recognized as individuals with perceived social influence owing to their large number of followers (Jin & Phua, 2014). They build a group of powerful followers by sharing their interesting, original content, entertains and educates to attract others users with similar interests.
Companies can use Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement to promote their product. They can recruit some well-known micro-celebrities to show their products on their personal Instagram accounts and display the advantages of the products and persuade their followers to buy. Through the alliances with Instagram micro-celebrities, companies can establish a more direct relationship with consumers in their daily lives. Therefore, interacting with Instagram micro-celebrities can help to build a more realistic relationship with target customers. So, the number of followers that the product message delivered by Instagram micro-celebrities are very high which are thousands or millions.
Traditional advertising may shift to social media advertising and micro-celebrity endorsement rather than traditional celebrity endorsement. Even though there is a noticeable trend of micro-celebrity endorsement but it is still not clear how efficient this way of promoting products. Many companies still confuse whether the micro-celebrity endorsement can be an effective advertising strategy and can affect the buying behavior of young adult or not.
Instagram is one of the fastest growing online photo social networking services where users share their lives with other users, but academic research related to this media is limited (Sheldon & Bryant, 2016). So, there are limited reported on customer buying behavior toward this micro-celebrity endorsement. Most of the social media advertising research is focused on Facebook and Twitter, but there is no significant research on the impact of using Instagram as a marketing tool, especially for micro-celebrity endorsement.
However, due to the lack of research in this area, it is difficult for companies to explicitly decide whether Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement has impact on young adult’s buying behavior. Therefore, there is a gap in understanding the effective of Instagram micro-celebrity endorsements in advertising and must be better understood.
In the past, companies mainly used traditional celebrities to support products, brands or services, but nowadays companies are more inclined to choose “micro-celebrities”. Using micro-celebrity endorsement is a new trend in the advertising industry. It may different from traditional celebrity endorsement in some respects.
In recent years, Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement become popular, but many companies still do not know is it really helpful use to effect buying behavior of young adult. So, the objective of this research is to determine the effectiveness of using Instagram micro celebrity endorsements as an advertising strategy and to identify the effect of Instagram micro-celebrities on young adults buying behavior.
1. How effective is Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement as an advertising strategy?
2. How does Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement affect the buying behavior of young adult?
Nowadays, Instagram has become one of the social media that modern young adult must use every day. Companies wants to use this kind of trend to promote their products by finding micro-celebrities on Instagram. This study contributed to the companies who are planning to implement Instagram-celebrity endorsement. It can help the companies to explore whether Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement is an effective advertising strategy to enhance young adult’s buying behavior. Assessing the effectiveness of Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement on the buying behavior of young adult will help to determine it is an effective and beneficial advertising strategy for the companies to use.
Companies now tend to use social media platforms as a marketing tools for building brand awareness and brand recognition attract and communicate with customers. Which is most popular and rapid the growth platform used by marketers is Instagram. Instagram has created a new type of celebrity landscape, the so-called “micro celebrities.” In this study, micro celebrities are defined as a person who is famous on social media and will definitely have some followers region. So, this study to tend to use theory of planned behavior to do the research about the impact of Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement on young adults buying behavior.
In order to study the impact of advertisement towards young adults buying behavior, Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) is adopted for this study. TPB can be described as a social-psychological model for understanding and predicting human behavior (Ajzen, 2015). It was first coined by Professor Icek Ajzen when he extended the models predecessor, Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) with a third element, perceived behavioral control (PBC) into the theory. The extension to the old TRA model was mainly compelled by its assumption that the behavior in question is wholly subjected to intrinsic motivational factors, without considering non-motivational factors such as availability of opportunities and resources (e.g., time, money, skills) (Ajzen, 1991). In TPB, the performance of a behavior is driven by the intentions and perceived behavioral control.
According to a previous study in 2017, the researchers use theory of planned behavior (TPB) to study about the effect of celebrity endorsement on 15-34 year old consumers buying behavior. The study investigated the relationship between key attributes of celebrity spokespersons and consumer buying behavior and their overall experience with celebrity endorsement. The study adopted a quantitative approach using a structured online questionnaire with a final sample of 23 respondents. The result showed that celebrity endorsement had effect on consumer behavior.
Then, the other previous study in 2016 which researches use theory of reasoned action (TRA) to do research about the attitudes towards Instagram micro-celebrities and their influence on consumers purchasing decisions. This research was collecting secondary data on Instagram, micro celebrities, celebrity endorsements and gym Sweden industry. They use qualitative research and four focus groups with 24 participants were conducted. Participants were selected by using a convenient sampling method and the discuss the guidelines were based on the theory of reasoned action (TRA). So, the research found that positive relationship between attitude and consumer behavior.
According to the theory of planned behavior (TPB), planned behavior is preceded by a behavioral intention, which is determined by three predictor constructs: attitudes towards the behavior, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control. First, behavioral beliefs refer to self-perception and positive or positive evaluation. The negative consequences of performing this behavior. They come from consumers memory and experience lead to attitudes towards behavior. Second consideration, normative beliefs, involving perceived expectations and consumers refer to group behavior, as well as consumer incentives meet the expectations and behavior of this reference group. Consumer memory and experience of social pressure. Third, control beliefs refer to factors that influence consumers’ ability to implement beyond. The greater those three beliefs are, the more likely the consumer will take on the behavior (Ajzen, 2015).
In order to understand the impact of Instagram micro-celebrity endorsements on young adults buying behavior, it is important to understand the process behind consumer purchases. It can help identify the stages of Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement in the young adult purchase decision process recognition of the brand is more effective, what factors contribute to the realization young adult buying decisions.
The study used the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen,1991) to research the Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement impact on young adults buying behavior. According to the theory of planned behavior (TPB), planned behavior is preceded by a behavioral intention, which, in turn, is determined by three predictor constructs: attitudes towards the behavior, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control. So, in this research, young adult attitudes toward Instagram micro-celebrity endorsement, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control will impact their consumer buying behavior. In TPB, the performance of a behavior is driven by the intentions and perceived behavioral control as shown in Figure 1 below.
3.1 Research design
According to Kotler (2012) research design is an important step in marketing research. The research design of this study is an exploratory study. Exploratory research is conducted when marketers had little knowledge and lack of information about research issues. This research is considered to be the most effective way to get information that researchers have not fully understood. Then, it provides an opportunity to determine the new terms and existing concepts to define attitudes, norms and behavioral controls about issue. As mentioned earlier, there are some companies that use micro-celebrities to promote their products and services, but it is still unclear how effective about micro-celebrity endorsements and it is really influence young adults to purchase certain products. The number of studies on this particular issue is also very limited. This particular study uses qualitative research methods.
3.2 Data Collection
Focus group is going to uses in this data collection. It will be divided into 4 groups. Each groups will conduct 7 participants. The reasons for using focus group is because the ability to compare experiences, views and perspectives. Interaction and group dynamics are also important, it expands response range, activation of potential details and focus group release to suppress participants (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). Use the dual host focus group type in this particular case engage with a leader and an assistant host. One person is smooth the meeting process and another person is responsible for ensuring that all issues are covered. Then, each focus group will be asking 10 questions for 1 hour. The questions based on combination of TPB. For example, background questions, attitude, norms and behavioral control towards product and service which is promoted by micro-celebrities, information gathering and recall, intention to buy product and service.
Sampling process is the important part in any research. According to Malhotra and Birks (2007), target population is a specific group with certain characteristics of interest to the researcher. Total amount of target audience is 28 participants from 18-24 years old. The participants will select based on judgment and they are asked some pre-questions before they join the research to ensure they are Instagram users and they have follow Instagram micro-celebrities.
Four focus group will conduct during 18th,19th,20th,21th of June 2019. 14 participants will recruit from Sunway University. Another 14 participants from Inti University. The reason for choosing these two private universities is because this research is study about 18-24 year olds. The most frequently used age group of Instagram is young adults. Instagram is a place where young adults go to discover what is new and what is next. Private university students are financially capable, so they are most likely to influence their buying behavior because of Instagram celebrity-endorsement. After that, to make sure that the content provided during the focus group meeting is easy comprehensive. So, it conducts the same language(English) to the focus groups.
Data analysis includes systematic and objective identification of characteristics or messages (Shields & Twycross, 2008). The audio recordings are collected during the interviews and type down after collecting empirical data. Attitudes, norms and behavior control towards buying behavior related to Instagram micro-celebrities are identifying during data analysis process. In order to understand the data collection, it will summarize each focus group conversations. Through the validation procedures, it will give participants to check to accurate the data. Lastly, it will conduct triangulation which double check the final data by two researchers.