Social media “stars” vs “the ordinary” me: influencer marketing and the role of self-discrepancies, perceived homophily, authenticity, self-acceptance and mindfulness

Shehzala*, Anand Kumar Jaiswal, Vidya Vemireddy, Federica Angeli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Social media influencers have become constant companions of a large audience of young consumers, but a crucial yet underexplored area of examination relates to the implications of exposure to influencers for an individual’s self-concept. This study aims to examine if and how individuals experience self-discrepancies when exposed to influencers and the impact of such discrepancies on their affect, cognition and behaviors toward the influencers and the brands they endorse. Design/methodology/approach: The authors thematically analyze 17 semistructured interviews, develop a conceptual model and present a set of hypotheses. The hypotheses are tested by analyzing survey data from 503 respondents using structural equation modeling. Findings: Individuals actively engage in comparisons with influencers’ virtual self-presentation and treat them as emblematic of an ideal self. The associated self-discrepancy can lead to both negative and positive affect, but while the latter has a positive impact on e-word of mouth (WOM) and purchase intent, the former has a negative impact. Perceived homophily dampens the impact of exposure to influencer content on discrepancy and strengthens the link between discrepancy and positive affect. Self-acceptance and mindfulness positively moderate the impact of discrepancy on positive affect and negatively on negative affect. Perceived authenticity strengthens the impact of positive affect on e-WOM and dampens the impact of negative affect on purchase intention. Research limitations/implications: The authors contribute to the literature on self-discrepancies by identifying a consumer context where, in addition to the theoretically predicted negative affect, an individual may experience more positive emotions like feeling motivated or inspired because of the perceived attainability of an influencer as an ideal self. The authors contribute to the influencer marketing literature by examining the influencer–follower relationship and its implications for an individual’s self-concept, including the role played by perceived homophily and authenticity. The authors also contribute to the literature on consumer well-being and identify the role of self-acceptance and mindfulness in shaping consumer experiences. Practical implications: The authors provide a nuanced analysis of the impact of influencer marketing on consumer behavior with a focus on its impact on an individual’s self-concept. The authors argue for the role of perceived homophily and authenticity in shaping favorable consumer behavior outcomes and offer evidence for more inclusive approaches to marketing. Originality/value: The authors identify the influencer–follower relationship as a unique social exchange where the source of self-discrepancy is also a homophilic solution provider for achieving one’s ideal self and report both positive and negative effects as outcomes of experiencing a self-discrepancy induced by a target perceived as more attainable. The authors situate understandings of perceived homophily and authenticity along these relationships and identify self-acceptance and mindfulness as mechanisms used by individuals to deal with discrepancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-631
Number of pages42
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Early online date23 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the University’s Research Publications and Open Access policy.


  • Influencer marketing
  • Perceived authenticity
  • Perceived homophily
  • Self-discrepancies
  • Social media

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