Study: Virtual Influencers are Perceived as Less Effective in Comparison with Human Influencers
A new study has found that virtual influencers are perceived as less authentic across all product types. The findings by University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) doctoral student Fanjue Liu and UFCJC Media Production, Management and Technology Associate Professor Yu-Hao Lee are featured in “Virtually Authentic: Examining the Match-Up Hypothesis Between Human vs. Virtual Influencers and Product Types” published in the Journal of Product & Brand Management on Feb. 7.
Liu and Lee investigated the rising trend of virtual influencers to evaluate and compare their effectiveness with human influencers in terms of brand attitudes and purchase intentions.
According to the authors, “The results showed that virtual influencers are less effective endorsers than human influencers due to a lower perception of authenticity. Unexpectedly, virtual influencers’ authenticity did not vary significantly across product types. Despite the range of products endorsed, virtual influencers were consistently perceived as less authentic than their human counterparts, leading to diminished endorsement effectiveness.”
They add, “While the effect of authenticity remains constant across product types, the impact of product–endorser fit is more dynamic, suggesting that the effectiveness of virtual influencer endorsements can be optimized by strategically pairing them with congruent products. While the results demonstrated that virtual influencers are ineffective alternatives to human influencers for symbolic or experiential products, they are comparable when endorsing functional products.”