Original Research

Unveiling the power of social influencers in brand trust and brand identification

Ji-Young Kim, Sung-Hoon Ko, Yongjun Choi
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 55, No 1 | a4087 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v55i1.4087 | © 2024 Ji-Young Kim, Sung-Hoon Ko, Yongjun Choi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 May 2023 | Published: 21 February 2024

About the author(s)

Ji-Young Kim, College of Business Administration, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Sung-Hoon Ko, Graduate School of Education, Kyonggi University, Suwon, Republic of Korea
Yongjun Choi, College of Business Administration, Hongik University, Seoul, Republic of Korea


Purpose: This study investigates the effects of social influencer characteristics (i.e., opinion leadership and parasocial interaction) on forming follower brand trust and identification.

Design/methodology/approach: This study included 286 Korean consumers (144 males and 142 females) with social media experience. We tested the hypotheses using structural equation modelling, multiple regression, bootstrapping and multigroup model analysis within the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, with a particular focus on an orange juice brand.

Findings/results: Opinion leadership and parasocial interaction (i.e., the one-sided, quasi-social relationship between individuals and social influencers through media consumption) were positively related to follower brand trust and brand identification, and brand trust had a positive relationship with brand identification. The mediating effect of brand trust in the positive relationships between social influencer characteristics and brand identification was significant. We also found that opinion leadership was positively related to brand identification in the male group, while parasocial interaction had a positive relationship to brand identification in the female group.

Practical implications: Organisations need to be aware that opinion leadership and parasocial interaction are vital for understanding the effectiveness of social influencer marketing. In addition, they need to take a close look at social influencer characteristics as they affect brand performance by target group.

Originality/value: Our results suggest that brand trust is essential in explaining how social influencer characteristics relate to brand identification. This study is the first to analyse gender-based variations in brand identification formed by opinion leadership and parasocial interaction highlighting the roles of social influencer characteristics in marketing.


social influencer; social influencer marketing; S-O-R; opinion leadership; parasocial interaction; brand trust; brand identification; gender

JEL Codes

M31: Marketing

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure


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