Celebrity endorsement in social media contexts: understanding the role of parasocial interactions and the need to belong
Purpose: As celebrity endorsements have extended from traditional media to social media, the role of celebrities has been amplified and celebrities have been able to establish unprecedentedly close relationships through interacting with consumers. This study, grounded in the theory of parasocial interactions and celebrity endorsement, aims to propose a framework of antecedents and outcomes of parasocial interactions with celebrities on social media. Design/methodology/approach: Using an experimental survey-based approach, this study collected 270 usable responses, and data were analyzed using partial least square structural equation modeling. Findings: The study found that parasocial interactions fully mediate the relationship between social media interaction and celebrity attachment, celebrity attachment influences purchase intention directly and indirectly through both cognitive (brand credibility) and affective (brand attractiveness) elements, the need to belong moderates the relationship between social media interaction and parasocial interactions and the need to belong moderates the relationship between celebrity attachment and brand attractiveness. An exploratory analysis uncovers whether different types of social platforms may be more conducive to establishing parasocial interactions. Originality/value: This study explores the mechanisms by which celebrity interactions on social media can impact the brands they endorse and the role that parasocial interactions and the need to belong play in these interactions and outcomes.