In recent years, influencer advertising gained importance in the marketing sector and influencer strategies appear to be highly influential for consumer purchasing decisions. Especially, young consumers indicate to have been influenced due to recommendations of influencers, and hence, the influencer sector and its assigned marketing budgets steadily grow. Nevertheless, there also exist growing concerns due to influencer marketing practices that could negatively affect consumers. These include, among others, the lack of transparency and misleading messages in advertised influencer content as well as the targeting of vulnerable consumer groups.
At the request of the European Parliament's Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), ConPolicy and VVA conducted an in-depth study on influencer marketing in social media within the European Union. The objective of the study was to provide information on the impact of influencers in the single market and to analyze the relevance of influencers as market actors from a business and consumer perspective. Furthermore, the most common issues related to influencer marketing and consumer protection as well as legislative and non-legislative measures to tackle consumer protection concerns were identified. Lastly, it was examined how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the role of influencers.
The project consisted of a desk review of relevant literature, consultations and workshops with experts, social media influencer monitoring and a legal review. Furthermore, best practices to address the most pressing consumer protection concerns were analyzed.
The study can be downloaded from the website of the European Parliament.