The Mediating Role of Trustworthiness in Influencer Marketing of Food Products
There has been a growing interest in the role of influencers in the marketing of products and services, in particular in the extent to which they can be trusted and can affect the behavior of consumers toward a particular product or service. This study focuses on this issue in the contest of the food sector and one prominent social network sites, Instagram (IG). Specifically, it aims to (i) examine the relationships between interactivity, authenticity, trustworthiness, brand trust and willingness to buy food products from IG stores; and (ii) investigate the mediating effect of trustworthiness on the relationship of interactivity, authenticity, and on brand trust in IG stores. Data was collected from 380 respondents, mostly young females, who are IG users in the Bangkok area. Descriptive statistics and structural equation modelling (SEM) were used to test the hypotheses. Findings indicate that while most of the respondents actively follow influencers on IG, they are not as active following specific IG stores. All proposed hypotheses were accepted except one as the direct effects of influencer interactivity and authenticity on brand trust in IG stores were found to be insignificant. It was also found that the relationship between influencer interactivity, authenticity, and brand trust in IG stores is fully mediated by the trustworthiness of followers in influencers.