This study aims to unravel under what conditions and when human-like virtual influencers have an impact on perceived brand authenticity. In 2018, Miquela Sousa, an artificial intelligence-based virtual influencer, was nominated by Times Magazine as “one of the twenty-five most influential people on the internet”, disrupting influencer marketing. Since then, many computer-generated human-like virtual influencers such as Lu Do Magalu, and Rozy have been introduced to the world. These virtual influencers have hundreds of thousand followers on their social media accounts, work with global fashion houses, entertainment leaders, and technology companies as influencers, and brand endorsers, and promote their products and services on their social media pages. Their attractiveness, have human-like functionality helped them to gain influential status and persuasive effectiveness and ultimately the ability to generate social responses behavioural change toward the endorsed brand (Arsenyan & Mirowska, 2021, p2). Subsequently, these human-like virtual influencers' social identity and information transparency can present greater brand attachment to perceived brand authenticity (versus less authenticity). The paper proposes that perceived brand authenticity can be able to evoke the authenticity of the human-like virtual influencers through its social presence as follower cue, and information transparency. Hence, this study has implication on virtual influencers marketing strategies that is firmly position on the consumers’ perceived brand authenticity. Thus, to best of my knowledge, this study is first to examine the effect of virtual human influencers on brand authenticity considering two key moderating variables, namely, social presence and information transparency variables. The paper findings contribute to the virtual influencer marketing and brand authenticity literature.
Keywords: human-like virtual influencer, brand authenticity, follower cue, information transparency.