Communication Limitations of The Sampling Method Discussion

Please answer two of the three questions according to the PDF.

steban-Santos et al. (2018) conducted a quantitative study that adequately follows the established structure of a primary research article. The authors aimed to contribute to a better understanding of fashion bloggers as communication tools for fashion industry, defining their influence on the purchasing behavior of Millennials. They targeted the Millennial generation as they are the most influenced group by blogs, specifically the ones on social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. I believe that the authors failed to establish the importance of the problem area in their introduction. They could have used more statistical information or noted gaps in the literature to justify the importance of studying this topic.

In the literature review, the authors appropriately cited current research and structured it in 3 cohesive subheadings that allowed them to provide conceptual definitions of key terms such as motivations to follow fashion blogs (information, entertainment, efficiency and social function seeking), dimensions of fashion blogs credibility, and types of amplified electronic word-of-mouth (overt and covert marketing). The researchers defined 3 objectives for their study: (1) identify the most valued motivations for Millennials to follow a fashion blogger, (2) measure the impact of fashion blog credibility on purchase intention and consumers’ attitude, and (3) test whether there is a different impact of covert and overt marketing in fashion blogs on purchase intention and consumers’ attitude.

Regarding the methods, Esteban-Santos et al. (2018) combined self-selection and snowball sampling through the use of Facebook and WhatsApp, which they considered beneficial due to the possibility of reaching a broader population of Millennials who are digital natives. A sample of 208 Spanish participants between 18 and 36 years old responded their online questionnaire. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, such as Mean, SD and variance, hypothesis testing and other types of analyses. The authors concluded that: (1) information, entertainment, efficiency and social relation seeking are the principal reasons that lead Millennials to follow fashion blogs, (2) fashion bloggers recommendations are perceived to be honest and have credibility, which depends on the blogger’s trustworthiness and expertise and positively influences consumers attitude and purchase intention, and (3) covert and overt marketing in fashion blogs have a negative impact on credibility and behavioral intentions. Finally, the researchers provided implications for real-world fashion bloggers applications and only suggested that future research should consider the buying behavior of Millennials in other territorial context and cultural influences.

Please respond to at least one of the following questions and remember to cite at least one example/excerpt from the study in each response:

Q1: Authors surveyed a sample of 208 Spanish Millennial participants and provided a demographic profile that included 3 variables: gender, age and consumption habit of fashion blogs. Do you think that the description of the demographic data was accurate or that they failed to describe other relevant variables? If you consider the latter, what characteristics should they have considered to have more generalizable results?

Q2: Researchers used descriptive statistics and arranged them in 10 tables, which I believe were comprehensible. For instance, Table 1 provides means and standard deviations to show the most influential variables when deciding to follow a blog. Do you feel that the findings were cohesively described and discussed in an organized structure around the 3 research objectives?

Q3: In addition to the limitations of the sampling method mentioned by the authors, such as sample size and geography (only focused on Spain), what are other limitations that you consider this study to have?

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/1361-2026.htm
JFMM
22,3
Fashion bloggers: communication
tools for the fashion industry
Laura Esteban-Santos, Irene García Medina and Lindsey Carey
Department of Fashion,
Department of Marketing and Retail,
Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK, and
420
Received 2 October 2017
Revised 8 March 2018
Accepted 18 April 2018
Elena Bellido-Pérez
Department of Audio-visual Communication and Advertising,
University of Seville, Seville, Spain
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate fashion blogs’ influence on Spanish Millennials’
buying behaviour.
Design/methodology/approach – This research is quantitative in nature, utilising a mono method
consisting of structured self-administered questionnaires. Data were exported to IBM SPSS Statistics, where
different types of analyses were combined – such as frequencies, means, hypothesis testing analyses,
principal components analysis or K-means cluster.
Findings – Findings show that the most important motivations to follow a fashion blog are entertainment
and information seeking. Besides, consumers’ attitudes seem to be influenced by how consumers assess
credibility, which is determined by trustworthiness, para-social interaction (PSI), expertise and message
credibility. Finally, after showing covert and overt marketing posts, both trustworthiness and PSI were lower
than before, identifying PSI as a possible moderator in these cases.
Research limitations/implications – The main limitation of this study is the sample size, which does not
make it possible to generalise conclusions.
Practical implications – From this research, it can be said that, due to the importance of establishing a
strong relationship with the public, bloggers should try to connect with readers on an emotional level, and
brands need to select bloggers very carefully.
Originality/value – This paper reveals Millennials’ attitudes whilst they are visiting a fashion blog and the
influence that these attitudes can exercise on their purchase intention.
Keywords Fashion, Spain, Millennials, Communication, Buying behaviour, Fashion bloggers
Paper type Research paper
Journal of Fashion Marketing and
Management
Vol. 22 No. 3, 2018
pp. 420-437
© Emerald Publishing Limited
1361-2026
DOI 10.1108/JFMM-10-2017-0101
1. Introduction
Fashion bloggers are one of the newest players in the fashion industry and they perfectly
represent the progressive democratisation of fashion and communication that we are
witnessing nowadays (Allen, 2009). They have brought a shift of control from sender to
receiver (Allen, 2009; Halvorsen et al., 2013), since they present a democratic user-generated
medium ( Jean-Kenix, 2009) that facilitates a quick diffusion of fashions and trends. Besides,
they are generally recognised as an effective interpersonal communication channel in
influencing consumers’ decision-making processes due to their perceived credibility
(Hahn and Lee, 2014; Kulmala et al., 2013; Sadaba and SanMiguel, 2016). This credibility can
be related to their independence of the fashion business and their assumed role as experts,
which have motivated the public to give power to them. Within the Spanish context, in
which we are going to focus, according to some rankings, the most influential bloggers are
LovelyPepa, Dulceida, Trendy Taste or Amlul[1].
New technologies have been the cause of fashion bloggers’ birth, but, at the same time,
they have also encouraged the prosumer figure, that is, someone who produces and
consumes content (Toffler, 1981). Among these new consumers, Generation Y, also referred
to as Millennials, are especially relevant since they present special characteristics that make
them approach brands in a different way, along with different purchasing habits, more
related to technology (O’Connor, 2016). For them, blogs, that are informal websites run by an
individual or small group, have become a reference (Allen, 2009). Therefore, this study will
focus on the Millennial generational cohort – from 18 to 36 years old, according to Bolton
et al. (2013) – since they are the most influenced group by blogs. As Bazaarvoice’s study
reveals, to the question of “how much does user-generated content play in your purchase
decisions?” 25 per cent of Millennials answered “a lot” and 59 per cent answered “some”[2],
which justifies our focus on this generation.
However, these consumers seem to be progressively less interested in the proper fashion
blogs – understood as individual websites that “report extensive brand and product
experiences including self-fashioning through outfits, information sharing and tips about
fashion” (Kretz and de Valck, 2013, p. 63) – and more in other social networks, such as
Instagram or YouTube (Lenhart et al., 2010). Hence, now bloggers share their content
through several channels, and when a reference to a blog is made throughout this paper,
it refers to the creator activity related to a blog within all these dissemination platforms.
Thus, due to the important influence of fashion blogs and its implications on the
marketing activities of fashion companies, the aim of this study is to investigate the fashion
blogs’ influence on Spanish Millennials’ buying behaviour. In order to fulfil that aim, the
subsequent objectives are proposed:

O1: identify the most valued motivations for Millennials to follow a fashion blogger.

O2: measure the impact of fashion blog credibility on purchase intention and
consumers’ attitude.

O3: test whether there is a different impact of covert and overt marketing in fashion
blogs on purchase intention and consumers’ attitude.
2. Literature review
2.1 Millennials and their motivations to follow fashion blogs
There is no general agreement on the start and end of Generation Y, so this study,
following Bolton et al. (2013), will broadly define them as everyone born between 1981 and
1999. This generation, commonly referred to as Millennials (Colucci and Cho, 2014;
O’Connor, 2016), present a series of characteristics that are fully transforming the fashion
marketplace (Pate and Adams, 2013). They are a global generation formed by demanding
consumers (Pate and Adams, 2013), who want instant gratification and who are constantly
seeking purchasing information (Goldsmith and Horowitz, 2006), trying to keep up with the
latest fashions (Cheng and Fang, 2015). They also have a strong sense of autonomy, wanting
to decide by themselves and choose what to buy independently (O’Reilly and Marx, 2011),
but at the same time, they are perfect team-players (Pate and Adams, 2013) who rely on the
opinions of other consumers during their purchasing process (Liljander et al., 2015).
However, their main difference with respect to other generations is based on their use of
technology: they are the first generation of digital natives (Bolton et al., 2013), so buying
online and communicating through social networks are common daily actions for them.
In this context, marketers must be aware that these young consumers rely more on this
non-traditional media (Cheong and Morrison, 2008), because they look for genuine and
honest recommendations (Liljander et al., 2015), formed by peer consumers (Bolton et al.,
2013; Colucci and Cho, 2014). Moreover, they may usually be more impacted by their
relationship with the blogger (Hahn and Lee, 2014) since this generation tends to consider
them as friends (Pate and Adams, 2013) because they think that everybody, even real people
like themselves, can become fashion leaders (Palfrey and Gasser, 2013).
Hence, it is not possible to study Millennials’ relationship with blogs without
understanding why they decide to use them. Three most usually identified motivations have
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bloggers
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422
arisen from the literature in relation to the uses and gratifications approach, which considers
that people consume media, in this case, blogs, to fill a variety of needs (Kaye, 2005).
First, the main motive is information seeking (Cheong and Morrison, 2008; Harridge-March
et al., 2010; Kulmala et al., 2013; McQuarrie et al., 2013). When consumers access fashion blogs
they normally do it trying to find reliable information about products and brands from a
credible source (Magno, 2017). They seek advice, verification, inspiration and fashion
guidance they cannot get from other sources (Cheng and Fang, 2015; McQuarrie et al., 2013).
The second main motivation is entertainment seeking (Courtois et al., 2009; Harridge-March
et al., 2010; Huang et al., 2008), because when they visit a blog sometimes they just do it in
terms of the experience itself (Harridge-March et al., 2010), looking for fun, amusement and
enjoyment (Colucci and Cho, 2014; Magno, 2017). And finally, the third outstanding motive is
efficiency seeking (Cheong and Morrison, 2008; Harridge-March et al., 2010; Johnson et al.,
2008; Kaye, 2005), since searching on fashion blogs they try to avoid the risk implied in their
purchases (Colucci and Cho, 2014; O’Reilly and Marx, 2011).
Furthermore, additional motivations can complement these main ones. And among them,
there is one of special relevance: visiting blogs as a result of a social function (Courtois et al.,
2009; Kulmala et al., 2013). People intend to fulfil their need of social interaction and
companionship through the affective exchange established within the blog community
between people of similar characteristics (Huang et al., 2008; Kaye, 2005; Magno, 2017).
2.2 Fashion blogs credibility and its influence on purchase intention
Nowadays, several authors agree that blogs are crucial in the decision-making processes of
consumers (Cosenza et al., 2014; Liljander et al., 2015; Magno, 2017). The truth is that fashion
bloggers’ recommendations can modify consumers’ attitudes towards brands, influencing how
consumers perceive them and therefore, their brand choices (Lee and Watkins, 2016). Besides,
when a fashion blogger uses and recommends certain brand, the use of this brand by the
follower can result in an emotional connection with the blogger and, therefore, with the brand.
Getting that is making grow a brand community by emotional branding, which requires
configuring a community sense through interpersonal links in which the brand is on the base
(Fernández-Gómez and Gordillo-Rodríguez, 2015, p. 145). The impact of these blogger
recommendations depends on how consumers perceive its credibility ( Johnson et al., 2008;
Schweiger, 2000), defined as “the reliability on the information showed in the blog” (Saxena,
2011, p. 103). Consumers normally consider these recommendations to be more credible since
bloggers have always been perceived as an independent source ( Johnson and Kaye, 2004).
It seems to be a general agreement about the positive impact of the credibility on
consumers’ purchase intention and attitudes (Liljander et al., 2015; Mir and Rehman, 2013;
Saxena, 2011), according to the theory of reasoned action (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1975) and the
theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1991). Nevertheless, there is no consensus about how
consumers assess this credibility (O’Reilly and Marx, 2011), and in this context, authors
like Cosenza et al. (2014), Filieri (2016) and Huang (2015) posited that it is based on
three dimensions.
The first one is source credibility and it is the most agreed dimension in relation to the
impact on consumers’ decisions (Boyer et al., 2015; Chu and Kamal, 2008; O’Reilly and Marx,
2011). As Esmaeilpour and Aram (2016) affirmed, “if consumer realizes that the source of
viral message sent for him is credible, he finds a positive attitude to brand or product”
(p. 479). In a fashion blog, this credibility is developed through a connection on an emotional
level that creates the illusion of an interpersonal relationship between blogger and follower
(Allen, 2009; Ballantine and Yeung, 2015; Hahn and Lee, 2014; Huang, 2015; Lee and
Watkins, 2016; Mortara and Roberti, 2017). In this way, bloggers usually disclose aspects of
their personal and daily life (Huang, 2015; Mortara and Roberti, 2017), trying to reinforce the
homophile perception in their readers (Ballantine and Yeung, 2015; Lee and Watkins, 2016).
The second dimension is message credibility, mainly based on its valence and quality
(Cosenza et al., 2014; Ballantine and Yeung, 2015; Huang, 2015), since strong arguments
appear to be more influential (Chu and Kamal, 2008). In Appelman and Sundar’s (2016)
study, we can found a basic and accurate definition of message credibility, being
“an individual’s judgment of the veracity of the content of communication” (p. 63).
According to them, message credibility can be measured by asking participants to rate how
well the adjectives “accurate”, “authentic” and “believable” describe content (Appelman and
Sundar, 2016). Nevertheless, in a practical way related to blogs, it is usually measured by the
number of visits or likes (Huang, 2015; Mir and Rehman, 2013), because according to the
theory of social impact (Latane, 1981), blogs become more credible when they gain
popularity and several users share the same opinions about them through their comments
or likes (Mir and Rehman, 2013).
Finally, the third dimension is site credibility and it relies on the characteristics of the
platform where the blogger shares the content (Cosenza et al., 2014), either the blog,
Instagram or YouTube, for example.
2.3 Covert and overt marketing in fashion blogs
One of the main features of fashion bloggers is brand advocacy: an active engagement in
which the person expends more effort in promoting the brand (Keller, 2001). Fashion
bloggers usually get involved with certain brands that, consequently, are perceived by the
blogger’s followers as good and recommendable. “Celebrity endorsement may generate and
retain attention, increase product recall rates in overly cluttered markets, and can be a
powerful predictor of an intention-to-purchase products or services” (Duthie et al., 2017).
In that way, one of the best things that a brand can experiment is receiving personal support
by a well-known fashion blogger, whose followers are the same as the brand’s target.
However, if this does not happen, a brand can always pay to a blogger so that she or he
lauds it. Thus, it is important to make a distinction between organic and amplified
eWOM[3], due to the fact that they have different impacts on credibility.
The first one refers to the genuine eWOM where the blogger expresses his/her opinion
without any economic support (Kulmala et al., 2013; Liljander et al., 2015), while amplified
eWOM occurs when the blogger is encouraged to talk about a product or a brand through a
monetary or product compensation (Hwang and Jeong, 2016; Kulmala et al., 2013). At the
same time, this second type of eWOM is divided into two different categories: overt
marketing when consumers are aware of the sponsorship (Liljander et al., 2015), and covert
marketing when this incentive is not revealed (Boyer et al., 2015; Liljander et al., 2015).
In this context, there is a lack of consensus about how these marketing tactics affect
bloggers’ credibility. Some authors such as Halvorsen et al. (2013) and Magnini (2011) argued
that covert marketing reduces credibility, and therefore positive brand attitude and purchase
intention, while others like Colliander and Erlandsson (2015) suggested that although it
decreases credibility, it does not have a direct impact on brand attitude and purchase
intention, since despite deception, consumers still trust the sincerity of the blogger. In the same
way, Boyer et al. (2015) suggested that covert marketing is more effective when it is used by a
high credible source and when there is a high level of para-social interaction (PSI).
In relation to overt marketing, there are also opposing arguments. Authors like Campbell
et al. (2013) and Hwang and Jeong (2016) argued that overt marketing has a negative impact
on credibility and behavioural intentions, while others like Ballantine and Yeung (2015) and
Colliander and Erlandsson (2015) indicated that even though it can decrease PSI, and thus
credibility, brand attitudes and purchase intention are not affected. In addition, Halvorsen
et al. (2013) defended that as long as the sponsorship is disclosed, consumers accept it and it
will not have any negative effect. But this disclosure can be also done in a way that,
according to Hwang and Jeong (2016), mitigates the negative impact on credibility: including
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“all opinions are my own, although this is a sponsored post”. In this way, followers are more
likely to trust in the source.
Besides all the above, Liljander et al. (2015) found that amplified eWOM does not have
any negative impact on the youngest consumers, regardless of whether the sponsorship is
disclosed or not, because they are social-media savvy consumers and their persuasion
knowledge (Friestad and Wright, 1994) is more easily activated. Actually, they assume that
their favourite bloggers have to be sponsored, and they are perfectly able to identify them.
3. Methodology
In order to carry out this study, a mono method consisting relying on quantitative research
was followed. Regarding the purpose of the research, this study is a “descripto-explanatory”
one (Saunders et al., 2012, p. 140), and employed a survey as research strategy.
More particularly, a structured self-administered questionnaire data collection technique
was used, addressed to Spanish consumers between 18 and 36 years old who fitted the
sample criteria.
For the practicality of this study, the chosen sampling method was the non-probability
one, combining self-selecting and snowball sample. The questionnaire was published on
Facebook, which is a voluntary selection method where individuals can show their desire to
take part in the study (Saunders et al., 2012), and it was also shared through WhatsApp,
both personal authors’ sites where contacts were asked to complete the questionnaire and
share it with their own contacts. This online administration of the questionnaire was
considered suitable in this case since the target was Generation Y members, recognised as
digital natives (Magno, 2017). Besides, using an online questionnaire promotes its sharing in
social networks and thus its possibility of reaching a wider population.
Regarding the items from the survey, that were selected in order to adequately cover the
research questions, the majority were closed. A combination between list, category and
Likert-style rating scale items in the form of a matrix can be found, where the last design is
the predominant[4]. The questionnaire starts with a filter question that identifies the
respondents who self-declared followers of fashion blogs and the ones that do not.
Depending on the answer given, the survey items are funnelled and two different routes
have been designed to include different questions. Besides, at the end of the questionnaire
two posts emulated covert and overt marketing.
Following the launch of the survey, 208 responses were collected over the period of one
week. Once gathered, the data were exported to IBM SPSS Statistics software package
(version 22) where different types of analyses were combined. Descriptive analyses, such as
frequencies, means and other measures of correlation, were used to describe the
demographic profile of the sample and its main characteristics in relation to the different
parts of the research. Hypothesis testing analyses, such as one-sample t-tests and
paired-sample t-tests, were used to contrast the results between the different groups of
participants. Other types of analyses were also included, like principal components analysis
(PCA), to identify the main groups of different people that exist regarding their motivations
to follow fashion bloggers and their credibility assessment, or K-means cluster, used to
know the profile of the people gathered in those groups identified with the PCA.
The main limitations of the study are a result of the implemented strategy, the survey.
Even though it allows the collection of a large amount of data from a sizeable population, the
generalisability of the findings can be questioned. Thus, the sample is too small compared
with the large Spanish Millennials’ population. Furthermore, because the study is only
focussed on Spain, it is not possible to determine whether it could be applicable to other
cultures. Finally, because as a result of the selected type of non-probabilistic sampling there
is a lack of external validity (Bryman, 2012). Nevertheless, despite these limitations, findings
have been relevant enough to bring further discussions.
4. Findings and discussion
Within the 208 responses collected, 79.8 per cent were female (n ¼ 166), while 20.2 per cent
were male (n ¼ 42), which shows a higher female participation, since generally they are
keener on fashion and blogs. In relation to the age, the major age group was 18-23 (n ¼ 116,
55.8 per cent), followed by 24-29 (n ¼ 56, 26.9 per cent) and 30-36 (n ¼ 36, 17.3 per cent), thus,
there is an unbalanced distribution, probably as a result of a major exposition to social
media of the younger age groups regarding whether they were fashion blogs’ habitual
followers, 55.8 per cent (n ¼ 116) were followers and 44.2 per cent (n ¼ 92) were not, showing
a significant difference between males and females ( p-value ¼ 0.000 o0.05). In this way,
only 6 of the 42 males reached were habitual followers.
Fashion
bloggers
425
4.1 Motivations to follow fashion blogs
Hence, a frequency analysis was carried out in order to fulfil Objective 1 and thus, identify
the most important reasons that motivate Millennials consumers to be fashion blog
followers. In Table I, it can be seen that the most influential variables are related to the three
most important motivations: entertainment, information and efficiency seeking, while the
less influential are related to the social function.
In order to get a deeper understanding of how these variables motivate consumers, a
PCA was performed. With this analysis, through the total variance explained in Table II, it
can be seen that four factors explain a 66.08 per cent of variance, gathering all the variables.
It entertains me
To get to know new brands
To get the information I am looking for
To access information quicker than with other media
To get information I cannot get from traditional sources
It helps me with my online purchases
It passes the time away
To keep up with the latest releases
To keep up with the main fashion issues
To learn about fashion
To save money in my purchases
To save time in my purchases
It helps me to escape from everyday life
It helps me to relax
To get different opinions
To get a better insight into the main fashion events
So I can talk with other people about what’s on
It is in vogue
I identify with its creator
Those around me follow it
It helps me to meet people with same interests
Component
Total
1
2
3
4
8.280
2.412
1.664
1.520
Initial eigenvalues
% of variance
Cumulative %
39.429
11.488
7.925
7.239
39.429
50.917
58.841
66.080
n
Mean
SD
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
208
2.86
2.64
2.60
2.58
2.57
2.52
2.52
2.51
2.50
2.41
2.40
2.38
2.38
2.26
2.25
1.95
1.88
1.57
1.55
1.52
1.45
1.105
1.049
0.988
1.042
0.980
1.159
1.212
1.081
1.125
1.064
1.263
1.198
1.230
1.221
1.107
1.176
Table I.
1.259 Means of the influence
1.226
of each of the
1.154
variables when
1.208
deciding to follow a
blog
1.102
Rotation sums of squared loadings
Total
% of variance
Cumulative %
4.029
3.466
3.334
3.047
19.185
16.506
15.877
14.511
19.185
35.692
51.569
66.080
Table II.
Motivation to follow a
fashion blog: total
variance explained
JFMM
22,3
426
Then, through the rotated component matrix (Table III), the variables were allocated to one
of the factors, seeing that each of the four factors represents one of the main motivations
identified within the literature review. The first one is related to entertainment seeking, the
second one to information seeking, the third one to efficiency seeking and finally, the fourth
one, to the social function of blogs, confirming that all are statistically significant as
motivations to follow fashion blogs ( p-value ¼ 0.000o0.05).
Using the factors obtained with the PCA, a K-Means cluster analysis was implemented
aiming to classify participants in four different groups regarding the factors that most
influence them when deciding to become fashion blog followers. In this sense, all the clusters
were statistically significant ( p-values ¼ 0.000o0.05), which indicates that the differences
between these groups are significant, with the first being the largest one (n ¼ 87). From the
final clusters centres, the profile of the groups is shown in Figures 1-4.
Component
2
3
1
To get the information I am looking for
To learn about fashion
To keep up with the main fashion issues
To keep up with the latest releases
To get to know new brands
To get information I cannot get from traditional sources
To get a better insight into the main fashion events
To get different opinions
To access information quicker than with other media
To save time in my purchases
To save money in my purchases
It helps me with my online purchases
It entertains me
It helps me to relax
It helps me to escape from everyday life
It passes the time away
So I can talk with other people about what’s on
It helps me to meet people with same interests
Table III.
Motivations to follow I identify with its creator
a fashion blog: rotated It is in vogue
Those around me follow it
component matrix
(–) C3
Figure 1.
Motivations to follow
a fashion blog: factor
1 (entertainment
seeking)
Figure 2.
Motivations to follow
a fashion blog: factor
2 (information
seeking)
C4
C2
0.028
0.213
0.286
0.145
0.216
0.306
0.468
0.442
0.291
0.053
−0.161
0.243
0.792
0.832
0.848
0.786
0.542
0.226
0.368
0.018
0.129
0.407
0.725
0.804
0.809
0.693
0.208
0.492
0.417
0.240
−0.008
−0.090
0.139
0.314
0.157
0.156
0.283
0.096
0.119
0.260
0.328
0.159
C1
People less
influenced by
entertainment
seeking
(–) C2
People less
influenced by
information
seeking
0.526
0.197
0.064
0.038
0.185
0.599
0.011
0.399
0.668
0.856
0.812
0.689
0.151
0.145
0.125
0.099
0.054
0.185
0.141
0.108
0.106
(+)
People more
influenced by
entertainment
seeking
C4
C3 C1
(+)
People more
influenced by
information
seeking
4
0.045
0.182
0.181
0.257
0.140
−0.099
0.263
0.181
0.082
0.153
0.153
0.256
0.029
0.226
0.222
0.223
0.606
0.706
0.594
0.790
0.819
As can be seen in the above representation, there are four different groups of people:
(1) The first cluster, the largest one, gathers the participants whose decision to follow
blogs is the most influenced by entertainment and information seeking, and
moderately by efficiency seeking and the social function.
(2) The second cluster gathers the participants most influenced by efficiency seeking,
moderately by entertainment, and who are not influenced by the social function nor
by information seeking.
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427
(3) The third one gathers Millennials who are motivated by information and efficiency
seeking, moderately by the social function, and not influenced by entertainment.
(4) Finally, the fourth cluster is composed by the ones who are the most influenced by
the social function, moderately by entertainment and information seeking, and not
influenced by efficiency seeking.
These four groups of people are a way to classify the population in terms of those variables,
but, at the same time, this understanding of how they are and behave could be a really
valuable information source for bloggers and brands, allowing them to make a better choice of
products, topics, brands, etc., to feature in their blogs trying to engage their target audience.
4.2 Fashion bloggers’ credibility and its impact on consumers’ behaviour
Some items were included in order to understand how Millennials assess fashion bloggers’
credibility. First, a frequency analysis was conducted, showing that all the proposed
variables are somehow important for participants as a measure of bloggers’ credibility since
all of them have a mean score equal or higher than 3, as can be seen in Table IV.
4.2.1 Main factors credibility depends on. Concluding that all the items have some
influence, the aim was to group them into several factors, ascertaining if they were similar to
the ones identified within the literature. For that purpose, a PCA was conducted, where,
through the total variance explained Table V, it can be seen that four factors gather all the
variables and explain 65.67 per cent of variance.
Then, through the rotated component matrix (Table VI), where the variables are
allocated to one of the factors, it can be appreciated how the results are in line with the
factors identified within the literature. They match with the main dimensions, since the first
three factors represent source credibility through trustworthiness, PSI and expertise, while
the fourth factor represents message credibility, confirming that all are statistically
significant as items that impact credibility ( p-value ¼ 0.000o0.05).
(–)
C4
C1
C3 C2 (+)
People less
influenced by
efficiency
seeking
(–)
C2
People less
influenced by
the social
function
People more
influenced by
efficiency
seeking
C1
C3
C4
Figure 3.
Motivations to follow
a fashion blog: factor
3 (efficiency seeking)
(+)
People more
influenced by
the social
function
Figure 4.
Motivations to follow
a fashion blog: factor
4 (social function)
JFMM
22,3
n
Mean
It is continually updated
He/She makes good suggestions
His/Her opinions are honest
He/She offers me useful information
The posts have a unique style
428
His/Her content inspires me
He/She has a broad knowledge
His/Her opinions are objective
He/She really knows the fashion industry
Many people like it
He/She has many followers
Table IV.
Means of the influence He/She has extensive experience
of each variable when I consider him/her to be an expert
Comments posted on this blog make it more interesting
assessing credibility
116
116
116
116
116
116
116
116
116
116
116
116
116
116
4.06
4.00
3.98
3.93
3.86
3.84
3.66
3.66
3.59
3.47
3.45
3.43
3.25
3.00
Table V.
Fashion bloggers’
credibility: total
variance explained
Component
Total
1
2
3
4
10.171
2.659
1.585
1.346
Initial eigenvalues
% of variance
Cumulative %
4.378
11.080
6.603
5.610
42.378
53.458
60.060
65.671
Rotated sums of squared loadings
Total
% of variance
Cumulative %
4.860
4.680
3.551
2.670
20.250
19.499
14.795
11.126
20.250
39.749
54.545
65.671
1
2
3
4
0.328
0.317
0.260
0.332
0.753
0.704
0.679
0.713
0.758
0.128
0.650
0.412
0.221
0.112
0.344
0.609
0.463
−0.153
0.363
0.305
0.160
0.091
0.435
0.160
0.117
0.128
0.124
0.207
0.160
0.277
0.146
0.211
0.244
0.249
−0.079
0.154
0.136
0.059
0.354
0.405
0.619
0.683
0.595
0.710
0.839
0.797
0.512
0.806
0.744
0.753
0.824
0.766
0.384
0.339
0.235
0.300
0.313
0.403
0.233
0.373
0.105
0.106
0.162
0.067
0.126
0.295
−0.107
0.111
0.085
0.174
0.272
0.116
0.205
0.168
0.082
0.133
0.106
0.078
0.115
0.199
0.146
0.474
0.385
0.478
0.882
0.899
0.338
0.154
0.127
0.084
−0.015
0.124
0.160
0.100
0.249
0.148
Component
Table VI.
Fashion bloggers’
credibility: rotated
component matrix
He/She really knows the fashion industry
He/She has a broad knowledge
He/She has extensive experience
I consider him/her to be an expert
He/She makes good suggestions
His/Her opinions are honest
His/Her opinions are objective
His/Her content inspires me
He/She offers me useful information
Comments posted on this blog make it more interesting
It is continually updated
The posts have a unique style
Many people like it
He/She has many followers
I identify myself with him/her
I see him/her as a natural person, like a friend
I never miss any of his/her posts
I comment on his/her posts
I participate in his/her raffles
I never miss any content related to that blogger
I feel as if I am part of his/her community
I would like to meet him/her in person
His/Her opinions help me to make up my own mind
I feel as if I knew him/her for my entire life
Using the four factors obtained with the PCA, a K-Means cluster analysis was implemented
in order to classify participants in four different clusters regarding the factors that most
influence their credibility assessment. In this sense, all the clusters were statistically
significant ( p-value o0.05), which means that the differences between these groups are
significant, being the second one the largest group (n ¼ 59). Hence, from the final clusters
centres, the profile of the groups is shown in Figures 5-8.
As can be observed, there are four different groups of people:
Fashion
bloggers
429
(1) The first group gathers the ones whose credibility assessment is the most influenced
by trustworthiness, moderately by PSI and message credibility, and it is not
influenced by the bloggers’ expertise.
(2) The second cluster, the one represents the largest amount of people, groups the ones
moderately influenced by the four factors.
(3) The third one gathers the Millennials most influenced by PSI and expertise, and
moderately influenced by trustworthiness and message credibility.
(4) Finally, the ones that are not influenced by either trustworthiness or expertise, and
slightly influenced by PSI and message credibility, compose the fourth cluster.
4.2.2 Platform characteristics and site credibility. Another dimension used by consumers to
assess bloggers’ credibility identified within the literature review is site credibility.
Since according to Cosenza et al. (2014) it relies on the characteristics of the platform, a
correspondence analysis was conducted aiming to identify if there is a relationship between
each of the platforms and the features most commonly recognised by consumers in each
(–) C4
C3 C2
People less influenced by
trustworthiness
(–)
People more influenced by
trustworthiness
C2
C4
C1
C3 (+)
People less influenced by
para-social interaction
(–) C1
People more influenced by
para-social interaction
C4
C2
People less influenced by
message credibility
C3
(+)
People more influenced by
expertise
People less influenced by
expertise
(–)
C1 (+)
C4 C3 C1
C2
(+)
People more influenced by
message credibility
Figure 5.
Fashion bloggers’
credibility: factor 1
(trustworthiness)
Figure 6.
Fashion bloggers’
credibility: factor 2
(PSI)
Figure 7.
Fashion bloggers’
credibility: factor 3
(expertise)
Figure 8.
Fashion bloggers’
credibility: factor 4
(message credibility)
JFMM
22,3
430
Table VII.
Means of the
characteristics on
each platform
Table VIII.
Means of the items
related to purchase
intention and
consumers’ attitude
one: χ2 ¼ 22.379/p-value ¼ 0.071 W0.05. As can be seen, the null hypothesis cannot be
rejected and thus, it cannot be said that this relationship exists.
Therefore, only a descriptive analysis of frequencies was conducted to see which features
are the most commonly recognised in each platform (Table VII).
With these results, a paired-samples t-test was conducted to examine whether credibility
is equally assessed for all the platforms. In this sense, significant differences were found
between the blog and Instagram ( p-value ¼ 0.17 o0.05) and between Instagram and
YouTube ( p-value ¼ 0.026o0.05), since in both cases the null hypothesis is rejected,
concluding that credibility has a significant higher mean in Instagram.
4.2.3 Purchase intention and brand attitude. As commented in the literature section,
blogs are recognised as one of the most effective platforms in influencing consumers’
purchase intentions and attitudes towards products and brands. In this way, the survey
included an item in relation to these aspects in order to determine if participants show a
positive attitude and purchase intention towards the brands and products displayed by the
fashion bloggers they usually follow. Therefore, a frequency analysis was conducted to
observe the mean obtained by each of the items, and as can be seen in Table VIII both
purchase intention and consumers’ attitude are high and positive, with means over 3.
Then, in order to address Objective 2 of the research, an ANOVA analysis was
conducted to determine if the way people assess the credibility of the blogger has an
impact on their purchase intention and attitudes. The results of this analysis confirmed
that there is a relationship between the variables, since all the p-values are under 0.05,
rejecting the null hypothesis of equal means. In this way, people belonging to cluster
4 present significantly lower purchase intention and attitudes. And moreover, participants
classified in cluster 2 present a significantly lower purchase intention than clusters
1 and 3. Therefore, this analysis is in line with Johnson et al. (2008) and Schweiger (2000),
who defended that the influence that bloggers exert on consumers depends on how
credible they are perceived.
Is easy access one of the characteristics of the platform?
Is easy navigation one of the characteristics of the platform?
Is good design one of the characteristics of the platform?
Is closeness one of the characteristics of the platform?
Is credibility one of the characteristics of the platform?
Is this platform useful to get inspiration?
Is entertainment one of the characteristics of the platform?
Is instantaneity one of the characteristics of the platform?
I would like to try the products
I would like to try the brands
Think that the products/brands are of good quality
Favourable opinion about the brands
I consider the products in my future purchases
Favourable opinion about the products
I consider the brands in my future purchases
Blog
(Mean)
Instagram
(Mean)
YouTube
(Mean)
0.56
0.36
0.57
0.41
0.37
0.42
0.55
0.23
0.80
0.69
0.59
0.60
0.52
0.72
0.80
0.66
0.49
0.39
0.34
0.47
0.38
0.38
0.61
0.28
n
Mean
116
116
116
116
116
116
116
3.82
3.81
3.69
3.57
3.49
3.46
3.43
Finally, to expand this analysis, more mean comparisons were carried out in order to
identify if the degree of PSI established with the bloggers has a significant impact on
consumers’ purchase intention. In this respect, every analysis presents a p-value o 0.05,
rejecting the null hypothesis of equal means, but the one related to the PSI established
through comments posting. Therefore, there is a significant relationship between
the rest of PSI variables and purchase intention, concretely a positive one, since the
stronger the PSI is, the higher purchase intention they show. This confirms what authors
like Colliander and Erlandsson (2015), Hahn and Lee (2014) or Lee and Watkins (2016),
already said since they considered that PSI strongly influences purchase intention in a
positive way.
Fashion
bloggers
431
4.3 Covert and overt marketing
In order to address Objective 3, investigating if covert and overt marketing posts have an
impact on consumers’ attitude and purchase intention, two posts that emulated real covert
and overt blogger’s posts were shown to participants. Both the blogger and the brand
names were false, trying in this way to avoid the impact that using real brands could have
on the result, as the answers would be biased as a result of the perception that respondents
have about those real brands.
4.3.1 Covert marketing. First, the aim was to determine if the perceived credibility,
concretely bloggers’ trustworthiness, is the same than before showing the post, so different
analyses were carried out. To begin with, a frequency analysis was implemented to observe
the means of the items (Table IX). At first sight, it seems that perceived trustworthiness is
lower than before showing this post, since all the means are under 3, so a paired-samples
t-test was implemented to followers’ responses for the purpose of determining if the
differences were significant. In this way, the null hypothesis is rejected for every item
( p-values ¼ 0.000o0.05), confirming the theory of authors like Colliander and Erlandsson
(2015), Halvorsen et al. (2013) and Magnini (2011), who defended that employing covert
marketing techniques significantly decreases credibility.
After this, several ANOVA analyses were carried out, showing that the perceived degree
of trustworthiness depends on the degree of PSI interaction established with the blogger,
since for every item but for the comments one, the higher PSI is, the higher the degree of
trustworthiness is. It is also revealed that it also depends on how they assess credibility,
since people belonging to cluster 4 show a significantly lower degree of trustworthiness
than the rest of the people, whereas the ones in cluster 3, the most influenced by PSI, present
the highest perceived trustworthiness. This is in line with Boyer et al.’s (2015) argument,
which defends that covert marketing is more effective when it is employed by a source with
whom consumers have established a strong PSI.
Second, the purpose was to find out the impact on purchase intention and consumers’
attitudes. Thus, as was done for credibility, a frequency analysis was implemented and the
means showed that apparently, both had decreased after the presentation of the post, all the
items being lower than 3 (Table X). Then a paired-samples t-test was applied to followers’
Mean
He/She makes good recommendations
His/Her opinions are honest
His/Her opinions are unbiased
His/Her content inspires me
He/She gives me useful information
2.78
2.73
2.53
2.59
2.71
Table IX.
Means of
trustworthiness items
after showing the
covert marketing post
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432
responses concluding that purchase intention and consumers’ attitudes were significantly
lower after viewing the post, and thus, confirming Halvorsen et al.’s (2013) and Magnini’s
(2011) reasoning.
As happened with trustworthiness, the ANOVA analyses reveal that purchase intention
and consumers’ attitudes in this case depend on how participants’ assess credibility,
showing the same result than for trustworthiness. Therefore, for these behavioural
variables, PSI could work as a moderator too, since for most of the items the differences are
significant ( p-values o0.05) between the ones that have established a strong PSI with the
blogger, and the ones that have not.
4.3.2 Overt marketing. For the second post, the overt marketing one, the same process
was followed, obtaining similar results than for the covert marketing one. In this sense, it
was also concluded that trustworthiness had significantly decreased ( p-values o0.05) after
showing the overt marketing post and that it was also influenced by how consumers assess
the credibility of the blogger. However, it seems that for overt marketing, PSI does not work
as a moderator in the same degree that it does for covert, since in this case less variables
were significantly different. In the same way, purchase intention and consumers’ attitudes
were significantly lower than before the post was shown ( p-values o0.05), and it was also
related to the credibility assessment of participants, but PSI is not as influential as it was in
the covert marketing post, especially for purchase intention. These results support Campbell
et al.’s (2013) and Hwang and Jeong’s (2016) statements, which defend that overt marketing
negatively affects credibility, and as consequence, consumers’ behavioural intentions.
4.3.3 Comparison between covert and overt marketing impacts. After identifying that
both, covert and overt marketing posts, have a negative impact on trustworthiness and
behavioural intentions, it is important to determine if that impact is significantly different
between them. Therefore, paired-samples t-tests were implemented, concluding that there
are not significant differences on how covert and overt marketing impact consumers.
In closing the results’ discussion, it is important to highlight that all these results are
related to the Spanish context, so it would be appropriate to do a comparison in order to
investigate if this practical analysis would show same results in another country.
5. Conclusion and implications
Through different analyses, this study has contributed to a better understanding of fashion
bloggers as communication tools for fashion industry, defining their influence in
Millennials’ buying behaviour in Spain. According to the proposed objectives, in the first
place, it has been concluded that the motives that lead Millennials to follow fashion blogs are
in line with the literature review, information, entertainment, efficiency and social relation
seeking. However, among them two are particularly influential: information seeking and
entertainment seeking. Regarding this, fashion bloggers should focus on giving accurate
and new information, as well as including vivid and interesting content, in order to maintain
their reputation and catch the attention of their followers.
Mean
Table X.
Means of behavioural
variables after
showing the covert
marketing post
Favourable opinion about the products
Favourable opinion about the brands
Think that the products/brands are of good quality
I would like to try the products
I would like to try the brands
Likely to consider the products in my future purchases
Likely to consider the brands in my future purchases
2.73
2.75
2.84
2.97
2.99
2.76
2.69
Regarding the second objective, it can be affirmed that bloggers’ recommendation are
perceived to be honest, showing a high credibility. This credibility depends mainly on the
blogger’s trustworthiness and expertise, on the degree of PSI established with the blogger
and on the message credibility. Besides, it was concluded that credibility assessment has a
significant relation to consumers’ behaviour. Therefore, bloggers must try to give their
followers good and credible information, in order to increase their fashion desire and
therefore, positively influence their attitude and purchase intention.
Finally, in relation to the third objective, the analyses concluded that sponsored posts,
both covert and overt, have a negative impact on credibility and behavioural intentions, no
matter whether this sponsorship is revealed or not. That is linked to Halvorsen et al.’s (2013)
and Magnini’s (2011) arguments. Hence, these results could lead to assume that the best idea
when sponsoring a blog post is to create it trying to resemble as much as possible organic
ones, leading to positive credibility and behavioural intentions. Brands must focus on
encouraging brand advocacy without a monetary compensation between fashion bloggers,
and consequently, as Fernández-Gómez and Gordillo-Rodríguez (2015) proposed,
constructing a strong brand community through emotional connections.
As a result, it can be said that fashion blogs can function as a marketing tool to influence
consumers’ behaviour. However, a series of recommendations can be made for both, fashion
bloggers and marketers. First, these bloggers should try to connect with consumers on an
emotional level. This way, consumers are more likely to consider them as a reference and
therefore both, credibility and behavioural intentions, would be positively influenced.
Then, the study has shown that collaborating with bloggers does not necessarily lead to a
more favourable brand attitude and purchase intention. Therefore, brands need to select
bloggers very carefully, they cannot just choose them because of their large number of
followers, but go beyond this and consider also more significant and influential aspects,
such as their perceived credibility and degree of PSI established with the target the brand
wants to reach. Moreover, they have to select the ones that are somehow involved with the
brand, or at least that share its values, in order to seem more credible.
To conclude, we cannot forget that these recommendations derive from an analysis of
Spanish fashion bloggers’ followers, so they are bound to the cultural component of Spanish
Millennials. Hence, this research functions as a sample of Millennials’ buying behaviour in
certain territorial context, and it could be compared with another context in future research
as cultural influence has been under-researched in this area although it has been shown to
be influential in many aspects of fashion (Carey and Cervellon, 2014).
Notes
1. https://goo.gl/nNRWoH; https://goo.gl/xSjyMZ (accessed 31 August 2017).
2. https://goo.gl/sugTD9 (accessed 30 January 2018).
3. The eWOM (e-word-of-mouth) is defined by Hennig-Thurau et al. (2004) as “any positive or
negative statement made by potential, actual or former customers about a product or company,
which is available to a multitude of people and institutions via de Internet” (p. 39).
4. The survey is available from: https://goo.gl/WyDT9E (accessed 21 September 2017).
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About the authors
Laura Esteban-Santos is graduated in Marketing and Market Research from the University of Valladolid
(Spain), obtaining the Extraordinary Prize, and she has a Master’s Degree in International Fashion
Marketing from the Glasgow Caledonian University (UK). Laura is a Member at the Ilustre Colegio de
Economistas de Valladolid (Spain). She has done several research works especially focussed on fashion
blogs, as well as having collaborated with businesses in their digital marketing development.
Dr Irene García Medina is a Lecturer in Marketing at Caledonian Glasgow University (UK). She has
a PhD Degree in Marketing (University of Sophia, Antipolis, France) and International Relations
(University of Vienna, Austria). She has given lectures and seminars in the field of marketing in several
countries and has published numerous articles. She is a Member of the international committee of
M-LIFE Conference and exhibitions, Mobile Government Consortium International (Brighton, UK)
from 2008 and a Member of editorial committees of the Journals Aprendizaje 21 and Obra Digital.
Dr Lindsey Carey is a Senior Lecturer in the Glasgow Caledonian University (UK). She manages
and develops the Masters in Research Methods and her teaching expertise lies within the disciplines of
marketing, consumer behaviour and research methods, which she teaches at both undergraduate and
master’s levels. She is actively involved in research in the area of consumer behaviour and
sustainability particularly looking at the context of organic food (including farmers’ markets), ethical
fashion and beauty products.
Elena Bellido-Pérez is a Research Scholar at the Faculty of Communication of the University of
Seville (Spain), where she is doing a PhD. Elena is graduated in Advertising and Public Relation,
obtaining the Extraordinary Prize, and she has a Master’s Degree in Communication and Culture, both
by the University of Seville. Apart from her main research area (art and propaganda), she has
developed several research papers and conferences about digital communication. Elena Bellido-Pérez is
the corresponding author and can be contacted at: ebellido@us.es
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