3.5 Securing the Data Quality
4.1.2 The Match-Up Hypothesis
The match-up hypothesis distinguishes that the endorsements are more effective when there is a perceived fit between the endorser and the endorsed product (Erdogan, 1999:
In the semi-structured interviews with the employees from the influencer marketing agencies, it was clear that all three sources prioritised the perceived fit between the influencer and the brand and/or product that is being endorsed. FA states: “But what I have learned is that the right match is very important. The match is the keyword.”
(Appendix, 2.40.). MC also acknowledges the importance of the product and the SMI being congruent in the following statement: “It is very important that there are a connection and match between the influencers you choose and the products you promote.
It is really, really important!” (Appendix, 3.16.). From the two statements, it is evident that having the right match is assessed to be a crucial component from the influencer marketing agencies perspective. AN further explains that if the collaboration does not suit the SMI universe, then the SMI will receive a negative response from their followers (Appendix, 1.28). From AN’s testimony, it is clear that the perceived fit has an impact on the effectiveness of the product endorsement.
From the follower’s perspective, 41.82% answered that they “highly agree” that it is important that there is a match between the influencer and the product that they are promoting (Appendix, 6.12.6.). In addition, the respondent was asked whether the lack
of coherence or match could affect the trustworthiness towards the influencer and the majority of 42.20% agreed“to a very great extent“.
Figure 4.12: Appendix 6.12.6
Both survey questions confirm that the perceived fit between the SMI and the product is important in order for their followers to find them trustworthy. The rationale can be that the followers initially follow the influencers because they have knowledge in one specific niche e.g. fashion. However, by promoting products that are not directly linked to their area of expertise can negatively impact the trustworthiness towards the influencer because the collaboration is not perceived as being authentic. This can consequently impact the collaboration or the product they are trying to endorse.
In regard to the match-up hypothesis, it can also be highly relevant for brands to investigate what the premise is for a match. I asked the influencer marketing agencies how they could ensure that the right match occurred between the SMIs and the brand.
AN explained that Up-Agency uses the tool Woomio to search for audience interest, size of SMI and influencers with followers in a specific demographic (Appendix, 1.20.). She elaborates: “Then we asses from influencer to influencer based on their previous posts and collaborations if their values matches the values of the brand we’re representing.” . From this perspective, it can be deduced that the influencer marketing agencies first screen for a match between the SMI and the intended target audience. Then, they evaluate the perceived fit between the SMI and the brands by investigating the underlying values between the SMI personal brand and the company’s corporate brand. FA and MC both state that one has to be updated in regard to relevant SMIs in the specific industry (Appendix, 2.40.; 3.32.). MC explains that the lack of match can be a great problem for many brands and thus, a lot of research goes to finding the right fit where they try to ensure that the products that the SMIs promote also are a representation of what they usually promote on their social media account (Appendix 3.32.).
From the SMI’s perspective, they also have similar parameters which they look into when assessing the natural match between them and the brand. NK states “There must clearly be a natural match between the brand and me. That means more to me than the paycheck itself. If it is not a brand I like or can reflect on, I am not inspired enough to take a proper picture of the product.” (Appendix, 4.36). NK moreover explains that the brand must fit in terms of her own image, interests and values. Based on the findings from the perspective of the influencer marketing agencies and the fashion SMI, a product and endorser fit have to be prevalent for the endorsement process to be successful as the marketing message will be perceived as credible.
To investigate other parameters of a natural fit between the SMI and the brand, the employees from the influencer marketing agencies were asked whether it would be more appropriate for brands to enter a long-term or short-term collaboration with the SMIs. AN answered that it depends on the client’s strategy and goals, but a long-term collaboration was preferable (Appendix, 1.22.). MC also emphasised that in his influencer marketing agency, their main focus is to ensure that SMI enters a long-term collaboration with brands (Appendix, 3.8.). He states that making SMIs to brand ambassadors will make the posts and collaboration appear more natural (Appendix, 3.24.). Based on MC statement it is about involving the influencers as an integral part of the business from the beginning where if possible, it is important that SMI is a part of developing the product. It can be perceived as trustworthy storytelling due to the fact that the followers can see the development of an ongoing relationship between the SMI and the brand. He explains that it is about locating five or four SMIs (Appendix, 3.8.) who can resonate with the brand. MC claims: “... you have to look at the long run and you have to make them ambassadors of the company. I simply do not think there are any quick fixes anymore in influencer marketing.” (Appendix, 3.28.). Based on the findings from the influencer marketing agencies, there first has to be a correlation between the brand and the SMIs. Furthermore, we can also deduce that a long-term relationship between the brand and the SMI can make the collaboration seem more natural as the SMI is known to collaborate with the specific brand (Appendix, 3.24.).
To investigate whether a long-term relationship also was desired from the perspective of the influencers, SMIs were asked in the interview whether they prefer to work with the same brand or with a new brand. NK explained that she liked to work with the same brand as it shows synergy and a match between her and the company (Appendix, 4.42.).
LP shared the same opinion and explained that a long-term collaboration shows that she
genuinely likes the products which make the collaboration appear more credible towards her followers. Thereby, based on the findings, it can be confirmed that a long-term collaboration can have a favourable impact on the perceived match between the brand and the SMI. Based on the findings, a long-term collaboration can produce a greater value which the brand can gain from in a long time of period in contrast to the “quick fixes” of the short-term relationship.
18.104.22.168 Sub-conclusion on The Match-Up Hypothesis
Based on findings from all three perspectives, it can be deduced that a successful influencer marketing strategy can be achieved by having a perceived match between the SMIs and the brand. In order for this to be facilitated, there has to be synergy between the SMIs and the brands’ universe. In addition, brands can align parameters such as segment, interest and values to ensure a natural match between their brand and the personal brand of the SMI. If the match is not created, it can negatively impact the trustworthiness of the collaboration. Findings also indicated that the length of the collaboration is another factor that can impact the perceived match between the influencer and the brand. Based on statements from influencer marketing agencies and SMIs, findings show that there might exist multiple benefits for brands by entering a long-term relationship with the influencers. Some of the greatest benefits are that brands can draw advantage of the value which the SMIs generate in a longer time frame, where the perceived fit between the brand and the influencer can generate a greater synergy than a short-term collaboration. However, one disadvantage which brands have to take into consideration is that a long-term collaboration can be costly for the brands. Nonetheless, one can argue that the long-term value generated by the long-term partnership can also entail greater financial value which can overweigh the short-term costs.