The Rise of Virtual Athletes: The influence of uses & gratification and para-social interaction on consumers’ attitudes towards high-involvement products endorsed by micro-celebrities
Matenga, C. T. (2019). The Rise of Virtual Athletes: The influence of uses & gratification and para-social interaction on consumers’ attitudes towards high-involvement products endorsed by micro-celebrities (Thesis, Master of Management Studies (MMS)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12787
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12787
Many brands face the challenge of selling high-involvement products and must contend with the high risks which consumers perceive to be associated with these products. These perceived risks include social, functional and financial risks. Friedman and Friedman (1979) posit that celebrities can mitigate these perceived risks. However, current research fails to identify specific factors that influence consumers to perceive low risks to high-involvement products that are promoted by celebrities. This research suggests that consumer needs, and para-social interaction with celebrities influence consumers’ behaviour regarding high-involvement products, in this case, video gaming products. Thus, to help brands execute effective celebrity endorsement campaigns, this causal research examines the factors that influence consumers' purchase intentions towards high-involvement products endorsed by influencers in the gaming community. Most specifically, this study examines the uses and gratification needs that drive consumers to watch, and form para-social interaction with video gaming celebrities. Furthermore, this study examines the effects that para-social interaction has on perceived social, functional and financial risks that consumers associate with high-involvement products. Moreover, the research examines the influence of these perceived risks on purchase intentions. Additionally, the study examines if video gaming influencers are as influential on non-gaming products as they are on video gaming products. Through a judgement sampling method, 105 participants that spectate gaming influencers playing video games were asked to fill a survey. Social integrative needs, cognitive needs, affective needs and tension release needs had a positive influence on para-social interaction. However, para-social interaction only influenced consumers who had prior experience of purchasing endorsed video gaming products. For example, the findings from this research suggested that parasocial interaction influenced this group of experienced customers to perceive high risks for products that were a poor fit with the celebrity’s image. Low social, functional, and financial risks led to high purchase intentions for video gaming products that were endorsed by good fit video gaming influencers. Interestingly, tension release needs mitigated functional risks associated with video gaming products. Cognitive needs mitigated functional risks associated with video gaming products only for consumers that had previous experience of purchasing endorsed video gaming products. Social integrative needs influenced consumers to buy non-gaming products that were endorsed by a video gaming influencer. Video gaming influencers were more effective in influencing perceived risks and buying behaviour when they endorsed video gaming products than non-gaming products. When the influencer was a good fit, consumers perceived lower social, functional and financial risks than when they were a poor fit. Furthermore, consumers had higher purchase intentions towards a good fit product than a poor fit product. The research discusses the implications of the findings.
The University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses