Is She Real? Leveraging Real-Life and Virtual Influencer Marketing in Brand Communications

Valeria Penttinen, Simone Lykke Tranholm Mouritzen*, Susanne Pedersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Although most social media influencer marketing campaigns are done in collaboration with real-life influencers, the use of virtual influencers is increasingly popular. Yet, little is known about how consumers respond to the social media communications of virtual influencers, and how brands can leverage this new type of influencers in their social media marketing campaigns. This pilot study examines consumers’ attitudes toward brands in response to influencer marketing campaigns involving real-life and virtual influencers across two types of promotional messages focusing on either hedonic or utilitarian product values. The outcomes of the pilot study show that while consumers generally have more favorable perceptions associated with communications of real-life influencers, messages focusing on hedonic (cf. Utilitarian) product attributes improve consumer responses to posts shared by virtual influencers. Perceived creepiness and trustworthiness as well as the social presence of communications are defined as mediators explaining individual campaigns’ impacts on brand attitudes. Notably, posts shared by virtual influencers evoke higher creepiness, explaining likely reasons behind more negative responses to virtual (cf. Real-life) influencer marketing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopments in Marketing Science : Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
Number of pages12
PublisherSpringer Nature Switzerland AG
Publication date2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
VolumePart F2055
ISSN (Print)2363-6165
ISSN (Electronic)2363-6173


  • Influencer marketing
  • Product attributes
  • Social media marketing
  • Virtual influencers


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