June 2020 (Vol. 60, Issue 2): GENDER AND DIVERSITY
#BeingReal about Instagram Ad Models: The Effects of Perceived Authenticity
How Image Modification of Female Body Size Alters Advertising Attitude and Buying Intention
As advertisers look to create messaging that conveys authenticity—an industry buzzword—a key question looms: “Does the perception of authenticity increase consumer liking of a message and subsequent purchase intent for items in the message?” Authors Heather Shoenberger (Penn State University), Eunjin (Anna) Kim (University of Southern California) and Erika K. Johnson (East Carolina University) asked the question in the context of perceived authenticity of models used in Instagram ads.
Employing a national sample of 205 female consumers, the researchers exposed the participants to a series of Instagram images with the intent to measure their perceptions of the authenticity of the models in the images. Models that appeared to have been enhanced resulted in lower levels of purchase intention. Moreover, models that were believed to be authentic largely generated positive reactions. Both attitude toward the ad and intent to purchase items which the models wore in the ads “were highest when a plus-size, not digitally enhanced model was used,” the authors further noted.
Among the implications:
- Advertisers now are able to use a wider array of models in their ads.
- Using thin models also showed positive results if the thin nature of the model was deemed to be authentic.
- “Even thin-ideal models may not need to be modified to remove ‘flaws,’ such as freckles or tattoos.”