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Race, Marketing, & Markets / Publication Abstract

Influencer-Generated Reference Groups

Oct 1, 2021

Jeffrey K. Lee, Enric Junqué De Fortuny

Race, Marketing, & Markets


This article explores the idea that consumer influencers can shape reference group meanings in social media. Through a survey in which over 5,000 participants provided open-ended reference group associations for 25 major brands, the authors find that social media influencers can either strengthen or change brand reference group associations. Specifically, the typicality of the influencer (relative to a brand’s stereotypical consumer) can shape ideas about the perceived homogeneity of the brand’s consumers, which ultimately influences the strength and tightness of brand associations. This research combines seminal theories regarding cultural and sociological influences on branding, concepts relating to stereotype change, and a multi-method approach to assess new digital flows of cultural meaning from consumer influencers to brands.

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