Impact of Influencers on Customer Behaviour in the Luxury Market and the Rise of Micro Influencers



One major characteristic of luxury goods that make them different from ordinary goods is that they are usually an exception to the law of demand. This means that an increase in supply does not result in a decrease in demand (Mcgee, 2004). On the other hand, an influencer can be defined as someone whose actions elicit a reaction in others (Brown and Hayes, 2007). Influencers have been around for a long time. It was not until recently that the term influencer has become more commonly used along with the term influencer marketing. This development has coincided with wide spread use of social media and the internet. Traditionally, advertising and influencer marketing entailed the appearance of a celebrity in a television commercial or on a billboard on a highway to endorse a particular brand. Social media however, has made it possible for an ordinary person to influence a large number of people through their social media accounts. While traditional marketing offered the opportunity to broadcast to a large number of people at once, there was no guarantee that these people would be persuaded to purchase the product. The reason for this is that not all of these people fall within the target market of the company (Woods, 2016). Influencer marketing offers the opportunity to aim the company’s marketing strategies to the target audience. This especially applies to the luxury market as it is not specifically aimed at the mass market as luxury items are usually high price high quality items (Kotler and Armstrong, 2012.). 

Influencers are usually people who use the products themselves something that may add to the credibility and authenticity of their message unlike celebrities who people may consider to have been paid to endorse a product (Molleda, 2009). This has contributed to the rise of the micro influencer. A micro influencer is someone who has a direct and personal relationship with their followers despite not necessarily having a large number of followers (Abidin, 2015). This kind of influencer’s actions are more likely to influence behaviour of their followers unlike those of a traditional influencer with a large following or a celebrity because of this direct relationship. 

With word of mouth considered to be highly credible and effective in marketing, it is one of the features of influencer marketing and is bound to be a factor in its effectiveness and level of acceptance by companies (Lee and Youn, 2009). With the wide reach of social media and blogging, people are now able to share their experiences with a product online where it reaches many people within a short time span. This has also led to development of the term electronic word of mouth (eWOM). Due to its effectiveness in reaching a large group of people and its potential credibility coming from a person who is trusted by their followers, it becomes important for companies to consider using this avenue to market their products. 

Problem statement

Traditionally, luxury companies relied on celebrities with a large following to promote their brands. This method resulted in their message reaching many people but it was not necessarily effective in influencing consumer behaviour. It is important to target a smaller number of people who are more likely to purchase the product than broadcasting to a large number of people who are not potential customers. This uses up less resources and could be more effective. Consumers also often prefer getting their information from a source they can trust such as an ordinary person as opposed to a celebrity endorser. This is why micro influencers can be of benefit to a brand. 


The aim of this proposal is to display the benefits of marketing through influencers because of their effect on customer behaviour as well as demonstrate the importance of credibility and authenticity in marketing strategies. 


  • To define the role played by influencers and their benefit to brands
  • To discuss why influencer marketing is successful
  • To discuss the reason micro influencers are becoming more popular with companies in their marketing campaigns.

Significance of the research

The significance of this research is to show brands and companies the effect that influencers could have in affecting sales as they have a direct connection with their followers and they represent a genuine user of the product. It also shows how a micro influencer may have a more significant impact especially for a niche market such as the luxury goods one is as opposed to traditional macro influencers or celebrities. This marketing strategy is more effective while using up fewer resources.

Literature review

Influencer Marketing

The internet has resulted in a change in how people and organizations conduct business as well as the way organizations establish customer relationships. With online shopping becoming common place in society and people accepting it as a way of purchasing products, companies have had to rethink their strategies of connecting to potential customers. Popularity of e-commerce and online purchasing has been accompanied with widespread social media use making it a major tool for communication and exchange of ideas (Hill et al, 2013). This made companies and organizations to recognize social media as a crucial tool for communicating their messages globally. It has also led to marketers and researchers being more interested in the opportunity for marketing and the role that influencers could play in this online platform (Khamis et al, 2017). Influencer marketing entails building a relationship with people who are able to influence potential customers. Abidin (2015) considers it to have a resemblance to the traditional method of having celebrities appear on television commercials in order to use their popularity to advertise a brand. Through influencer marketing, companies aim to stimulate customers to buy their products and create a sales rift through the concept of a trusted advisor (Kozinets et al, 2010). According to Brown and Hayes (2007), there are three steps in implementing influencer marketing. The first is marketing to influencers, the second is marketing through the influencer, and the third is marketing with influencers. This is whereby the company uses the influencers as brand advocates 

Brown and Fiorella (2013) define influence as a force coming from one entity or person that leads to a reaction in another. Influence relationships exist in many forms for instance between a parent and their child, a spouse and a partner, or an employee and their colleagues (Abidin, 2015). In the context of marketing, an influencer is defined as someone who is known to a niche group of people and has developed a specific relationship with followers (Marwick, 2016). They are usually people who operate on various social media sites and or operate a blog. Influencers usually develop a relationship with their followers that can be defined as a para-social relationship according to Chen (2016). This is defined as the illusion of having a real life relationship between the influencer and the follower (Chen, 2016). By interacting with the followers on the social media network, the influencer expands the relationship with the follower. It also helps to maintain and grow their popularity (Marwick, 2016). 

Role played by influencers

Influencers play a major role in word of mouth marketing in the modern world with their recognition growing fast due to their ability to their ability to offer the right information to the right people (Akritidis et al, 2011). Weiss (2014) contends that for a potential customer to be influenced by an influencer, it is important that they get the right information, at the right time, from the right person, and in the right form. Unlike celebrities who usually have a large number of followers and fans, influencers often pass their message through their social media accounts or blogs to a specific audience. This audience is usually interested in a specific topic especially in the case of blogs (Hill et al, 2013). This is a factor that has turned marketers towards using bloggers as influencers as opposed to the traditional method of using celebrities as the bloggers could be viewed as more credible than celebrities (Forrest and Cao, 2010). Since brands want to be perceived as authentic, they are changing their marketing strategies towards marketing their products with influencers as they provide the authentic feeling of an ordinary person to potential customers (Molleda, 2009). This means that companies have to find an influencer who creates a genuine interest among followers which may not necessarily be the case with traditional celebrity endorsements. When the influencer is considered to be credible, the purchase intent in the target group has shown to be higher. The influencer is seen as having a higher expertise, attractiveness, and trustworthiness (Hill et al, 2013). According to Willemsen et al (2012), trust is considered to be the confidence that a person or entity is motivated to communicate valid information. This means that even though companies may have expertise in their fields, consumers may not necessarily perceive them as trustworthy. The consumer considers an influencer to be giving an honest opinion of the product. 

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Theories of influencer marketing

Chen (2016) posits that people acquire new behaviours through experience or through observing others behaviour. Consumers develop thoughts and ideas about behaviours that are likely to be successful and they use this as a guide for their future actions (Chen, 2016). This means that people learn from example. In the case of influencer marketing, influencers lead by example while followers follow them. By observing the influencer’s example, people are likely to adopt similar behaviours. In addition to this theory, electronic word of mouth (eWOM) is an ideal way to understand what makes influencers to be effective in affecting customer behaviour according to (Lee and Youn, 2009). eWOM entails things said by former, current, and potential customers about a product through the internet. These statements could be positive or negative. eWOM enables customers to share their opinions with other customers. Word of mouth is one of the most trusted ways in marketing according to Booth and Matic (2011). It is also one of the main tools of influencers especially through social media networks and blogs. Through sharing their opinion on a particular product, these influencers take part in forming a potential customer’s opinion on a particular product or brand. While a company works with an influencer, however, it would be ideal to keep the message positive in order to persuade other consumers to purchase their product according to Lee and Youn (2009). It is also important that the customer feel that the purchase was in their interest and not because they were persuaded by the influencer (Lee and Youn, 2009).

The rise of micro influencers

A micro influencer is a person who does not necessarily have a high number of followers on their platforms, but have a direct and personal connection with them. According to Abidin (2015), a micro influencer understands his or her followers and respects them. This differs from a macro influencer which defines a person or entity that has a large number of followers made up of people who they have a loosely defined or unknown relationship (Abidin, 2015). A macro influencer is someone who is looked up to or idolized by their followers for instance a celebrity or a popular social media personality. Though there is a relationship between this type of influencer and their followers, it is not necessarily something that would make a follower to act on impulse. A micro influencer who has a more direct relationship with his or her followers is more likely to affect their impulse actions market (Pophal, 2016). Micro influencers also offer access to a niche audience. Social media and blogging has resulted in people following people who they feel that share the same interests as they do. These developments have seen many people moving from the traditional following of major celebrities to influencers who have a niche type of following especially among young people (Khamis et al, 2017). This has resulted in several influencers becoming famous through social media. In some cases it has led to some influencers developing a larger following than celebrities. According to Brown et al (2003), social media and the internet has resulted in a situation where any person can be a news source, influencer, or thought leader. Everybody has the opportunity to establish a voice and to create a niche. 

Micro influencers offer various advantages to brands. Research has shown that advertising through micro influencers usually lead to a much larger engagement of the product being advertised than celebrities (Woods, 2016). This is because of the trust and close relationship with their followers making it more likely for their audience to follow their recommendations. Micro influencers also tend to be loyal to their audience according to Pophal (2016). This means that they are more likely to choose the messaging that appears on their pages and how it will appeal to the audience. It also further enhances trust with the audience. Micro influencers also offer the opportunity for interaction with followers and potential customers (Woods, 2016). This interaction and constant dialogue can be of great benefit to brands as it enables them to get feedback on their products as well as customer preferences. It also increases trust between the micro influencer and their audience according to Molleda (2009). Marketing through micro influencers also consumes minimal resources when compared to traditional methods of advertising such as billboards and TV commercials. Combining the low cost and the ability to provide targeted advertising to potential customers and the higher rate of engagement, it makes micro influencers an appealing option for an efficient and effective marketing strategy (Weiss, 2014). 

Drawbacks in the use of influencers 

Despite there being benefits in using influencers in the marketing process, they also have their own drawbacks. As outlined by Weiss, (2014) there exists numerous consequences that arise as a result. One of the major consequences is that the partnership between companies and influencers is one that can be inauthentic. Khamis et al, (2017) highlights that consumers are beginning to catch on the practice and as a result the use of influencers is no longer effective in pushing a brand. Therefore, if doesn’t authentic then it may fail to resonate with the consumers which the ad is targeted. Therefore, Molleda (2009) notes that prior to a company deciding on hiring an influencer they would need to analyse their past partnerships to ensure that they have done too many brands as that will mean that the company brand stands the risk of getting lost in the mix. The other disadvantage that has been outlined by Khamis et al, (2017) is that the results of influencers marketing and not guaranteed. Just because the use of an influencer was beneficial to a certain brand doesn’t mean that it will work for another company. Therefore, there is the risk of paying an influencer and the company end up not gaining the results that it desires. Molleda (2009) notes that it is very important for a company to research extensive on the type of research that will best suit the brand and the audience it wants to target. The use of influencer compensation can be very expensive and doesn’t mean that it has to be in form of cash as in some instances brands may have to use gifts and exclusive access to events. In some cases, a brand may fail to recoup such costs making the use of influencers as negative to the progress of a brand.  

Research gap

While the existing research on the emergence of influencers and micro influencers addresses why they are becoming popular with marketers in modern times and their benefits to brands, there is no adequate research on the actual benefit that influencers have to brands and especially the luxury brands. Luxury products have certain characteristics that make them differ from regular goods, such as the above mentioned exception to the law of demand, thus raising the question of whether this form of marketing is effective for them. This research aims to bridge this gap and will help us to understand whether it is enough for a micro influencer to promote a luxury product and generate sales or whether this market segment still requires a big name celebrity to display the image of prestige as opposed to ordinary. The goal would be to understand whether this form of marketing is effective for this market segment or whether these goods are an exception. 

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The main purpose of this section is to present the researchers approach in gathering data that will be beneficial in addressing the subject matter. This section will delve to provide the research strategies that will be used, the research horizon, approaches, research philosophies and the ethical considerations that the researcher will take into account. It is important to note that the researcher will utilise both primary and secondary methods of data collection and in specific the data collection will be qualitative. That notwithstanding the data collection will rely on the use of questionnaires as they are easy to administer.

Research strategy 

Questionnaires will be primary method to be used in data collection. They will contain both close ended and open ended questions. Further they will be divided into two; personal information section on the micro-influencers and the second section containing questions on the subject matter. The questions will specifically be designed to get information on the extent micro influencers influence their followers to perceive a particular brand or product. The researcher has opted for as an avenue that will be used in the design and administering of the questionnaires. This is a website which allows users to conduct surveys and also aids in the data analysis. 

The sample population that will essentially be those individuals who have a huge following on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as they have an influence on how people perceive brands. In specific those targeted are those that have over 50000 followers or friends in their social media platforms. In specific the respondents are the micro influencers located in the UK as different countries have different factors that influence the consumer behaviours. The researcher will create a list of 100 individuals with over 50000 followers or friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through manually going through the different platforms to determine individuals that have surpassed the threshold. Once the list is created there will be a random sampling of 50 influencers that will take part in the study. The researcher will proceed to send a direct message to the respondents through the social media requesting them to take part in the study. This will act as a consent letter and those that respond will be provided with a link to the survey on

Based on secondary data gathering approach, content analysis will be utilised and in specific recently published journals and books on the impact of micro influencers on consumer behaviour. It is important to note that books and journals published not later than 2014 will be chosen due to the fact consumer behaviours tend to change from time to time. The researcher will use key words such as the “rise of micro influencers” “impact of influencers on consumer behaviour” “influencers impact on luxury market” in deriving the articles and books to be used in the analysis of the subject matter. 

Research approach

Since the research will be one that is qualitative in nature, an inductive approach will be utilised. It is important to point out that this approach entails a move from the specifics to the general. In this case the researcher will delve to look at the patterns in the data collected from the respondents. In this case the researcher will endeavour to analyse if there indeed exists a similarity in the influence that micro influencers have on consumer behaviour. The advantage of this approach is that it will help in the reduction of bias by the researcher which would arise especially in the data gathering phase. 


Despite the benefits outlined for the research strategy outlined, one of the main limitations would be the failure of the micro influencers to respond to the researcher’s request to take part in the study. Due to the numerous messages some of these individuals get from their followers or friends would render them unresponsive. However, the researcher will persist and further ensure that all ethical considerations that the respondents may be wary of are guaranteed.  In ensuing that the questionnaires are fully answered, it will be designed to contain only a few questions and will be less wordy to encourage them to respond.

Ethical considerations

There are various factors that the researcher will need to take into account prior to conducting the study as they will ensure that the research findings are reliable. Some of the ethical considerations will include confidentiality, consent and security. Based on consent, the researcher will have to send a consent message through the aforementioned social media platforms to all respondents that will take part in the study to inform them of the purpose of the study and also request for their permission to take part in the study. Based on confidentiality, the information that will be provided by the respondents will remain confidential and therefore will not be made available to other parties unless through their consent. Additionally, confidentiality will entail the use of the information provided only for this study and not any other study. For security purposes the username and password that will be used to access will be protected from unauthorised users. 

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  • Gender 



  • Age 

18- 23 years

24- 28 years

29- 35 years 

Over 35 years

  • How long have you been an influencer?

Less than 6 months

6 -2 years 

2- 5 yeas

Over 5 years


  • Do you think your role as influencers has had a huge impact on brands?




  • To what extent have brands embraced the use of influencers?




Not at all

Why? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  • Is there a chance that your roles as influencers will decline?




Why? …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………


  • Has the market well accepted your role as influencers? 




Not at all

  • Does traditional marketing have an edge in terms of its influence on brands as you have? 


  • Do you consider continuing to be influencer?



Not sure

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