The purpose of this research is to analyze the impact of social media influencers on consumers’ attitude, awareness and purchase intention of sustainable fashion. In recent years, the fashion industry has become the second most polluting industry in the world. Fast fashion has increased the quantity of clothes, while decreasing the quality. In an attempt to stop the negative impact, sustainable fashion is produced. Sustainable fashion focuses on environmentally friendly materials, fair trade principles, and changing consumers’ mindset. While making decisions for a purchase, consumers are searching for new ways to gather information that could guide them. Social media influencers (SMIs) have proven to be very effective for promoting fast fashion and influencing attitude towards a product. Yet, fast fashion is not the same as sustainable fashion. The latter has more than a product to sell; it is also the awareness towards the environmental and societal issues. Attitude and awareness can both be influenced by SMIs, but they can also play a mediating role in influencing consumers’ intention to purchase. This research tests if SMIs can perform the same promotional role for sustainable fashion as they do for fast fashion. An experimental 2x2x2 factorial design tests the effect of three specific characteristics of SMIs and influencer marketing—expertise, attractiveness, and message content— on consumers’ attitude, awareness and purchase intention. The experiment was conducted among 240 participants. The data yielded a respondents group consisting of females with an average age 23 predominantly living in the Netherlands. They were presented a manipulated Instagram post. After the exposure, participants answered questions regarding their attitude towards sustainable fashion, general and specific awareness towards the environmental and social issues, and purchase intention. The research demonstrated that the characteristics of the SMI that were tested were not effective in influencing the attitude, awareness, or purchase intention. Instead, only when participants recognized the brand did the message content and attractiveness influence attitude and awareness. Yet, the fast fashion message was more effective than the sustainable fashion message. Additionally, neither of the characteristics, whether respondents recognized the brand or not, had an impact on the purchase intention. The result was the same for the direct effect and for the mediated effect on purchase intention through attitude and awareness. This shows that the same mechanism that is effective for fast fashion might not be effective for sustainable fashion, at least not on the platform Instagram. The implications that can be made from these results are that sustainable brands should first focus on making their brand a household name in the movement to change the fashion industry, and organizations should explore other media channels to share their information to consumers because Instagram SMIs are not effective.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, creative industries, sustainable fashion, social media influencers, source credibility, attitude, awareness, purchase intention, brand familiarity
Thesis Advisor C. Billedo
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/2105/49913
Series Media & Creative Industries
Citation
D. Leenders. (2019, July). Sustainable Fashion and Social Media Influencers An experimental study on the effectiveness of Instagram fashion influencers on consumers’ attitude, awareness and purchase intention of sustainable fashion. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/49913