My Topics

1 December 2021

The connection between influencer and follower is crucial in healthy food promotion

Social influencers can play an important part in the promotion of healthy food because their followers think they will get a genuine opinion. This study in BMC Public Health investigates the effect of social influencers promoting healthy food products. A personal connection between influencers and followers turns out to be crucial.

Take aways

  • Social media (fit) influencers can encourage their followers to make healthy food choices. 

  • To successfully promote healthy food choices, it is crucial for social influencers to establish a warm personal relationship and connection with their followers. 

  • This research shows that using popular influencers for promotion of healthy foods could be more successful in public health than using random promotors.

Study information

  • Who?

    154 adults (mean age: 24, age range 18 -54, 95% female)

  • Where?

    The Netherlands

  • How?

    The researchers showed the participants an Instagram post that promoted a fictitious healthy product. One half of the participants saw the product promotion by a popular fit influencer who they followed on Instagram (real influencer). The other half viewed a product promotion by a similar person they did not know (fictitious influencer). After viewing the Instagram posts the participants answered questions about how they felt about the product, for example how interested they were in the product and whether they intended to buy it. They also answered questions about the influencer, such as their perceived personal connection with the influencer and whether they identified with them and thought they were alike.

Facts and findings

  • Participants who watched the product promotion by a real influencer more often felt a connection with the influencer they had seen.  

  • Participants who felt a warmer connection were more positive about the promoted food product and more often indicated that they were planning to buy it.  

  • The social influencers effectively promoted healthier foods among their target group, but only among participants who felt a personal connection.