Parasocial Relationships between Influencers and Irish Millennials and their Effect on Purchase Intention
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This study explores the hidden techniques and interactions which lead to the development of parasocial relationships among Irish millennials and influencers, and the subsequent effect on purchase intention. Upon review of the literature, the researcher found that there was a gap regarding the development of parasocial relationships with media personas among millennials, and no research was found on this topic within Ireland. Furthermore, in the researcher’s review of the literature, she also failed to find any studies regarding factors that influence purchase intention among the Irish population. Therefore this study aimed to investigate and answer the following research questions: * How have Irish millennials formed parasocial relationships with influencers they follow on social media?; * How does this parasocial relationship influence their purchase intention? This research adopted a mixed methodology approach of using a survey and netnography study. A survey was conducted on 45 Irish millennials and asked questions with regard to their social interactions with their favourite influencer. From the survey, two influencers were selected for a netnography study that took place over a four week period, observing influencers parasocial relationship characteristics in their interactions on Instagram. The results found parasocial relationship characteristics demonstrated in the interactions influencers exhibited on Instagram. It was observed that parasocial relationships develop between Irish millennials and influencers through conceptual closeness and length of exposure, attraction through possessing similar interests and personalities, and through the influencer’s ability to meet the follower’s social needs. The ability to create an illusion of intimacy through talking to the camera, point of view (POV) photography and engaging with followers was also found to develop a parasocial relationship, as well as an influencers use of self-disclosure. This study supports Irish millennials possession of a parasocial relationship with their favourite influencer, however findings show it is not as strong as their physical real-life interactive friendships. The research findings show that the trust gained through the development of a parasocial relationship between an influencer and a follower has a positive effect on their purchase intention regardless of paid advertisement.
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