Using social media for health: How food influencers shape home-cooking intentions through vicarious experience

Karina SOKOLOVA, Charles PEREZ, Saeedeh Rezaee Vessal

Social media influencers have gained significant popularity particularly within marketing research. However, their impact extends beyond purchase decision making, as they also have the potential to influence attitudes and behaviors through the lifestyles they promote in their content. This study aims to explore the role of influencers in promoting healthier habits, with a specific focus on home-cooking. By investigating how influencers can generate vicarious experiences through recipe content, we aim to understand their impact on individuals’ intentions to cook at home. Grounded in social influence theory, we build an original research model that we evaluate using self-reported data obtained from 213 French female social media users and the partial least squares approach. The findings of our study reveal that positive vicarious experiences are driven by the followers’ parasocial relationship with influencers, a sense of social belonging, and the entertainment factor of the observed behavior. These experiences help shaping followers’ intentions to imitate the influencer’s behavior, such as cooking the recipes they propose. Additionally, we found that the attractiveness of the recipes, the followers’ inclination towards novelty seeking, and their own cooking experience all contribute positively influencing this intention. Overall, our study sheds light on the ability of influencers to exert influence beyond purchase intentions. They possess the power to make a positive impact on their followers’ behavior by providing an immersive vicarious experiences and encouraging a shift towards healthier habits, such as home-cooking.

Publication type: 
Scientific Article
Date de parution: 
Technological Forecasting and Social Change