“Sex sells”, but who’s buying?
: the effect of sexual appeals on purchase intention in influencer marketing

  • Pedro Francisco de Castro Couto Bastos (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Over the last decade, Influencer Marketing has become an integral part of firms’ marketing plans. According to extant literature, brands-influencers collaborations may be more persuasive than traditional advertising. However, little is known about the factors that drive its effectiveness. The aphorism that “sex sells” pervades traditional advertising and seems to be perpetuated in social media platforms like Instagram, though little academic evidence supports it. The present study addresses this research gap by examining the effect of different modes of exhibition of the female body (inconspicuous vs. conspicuous) on consumers’ purchase intention. The analysis of the data collected through an online questionnaire administered to Portuguese Instagram users revealed that conspicuous exhibition of the female body negatively affects purchase intention. The effect is serially mediated by source credibility, endorsement attitude and brand attitude. By providing empirical evidence for the effect of different modes of self-presentation on attitudinal and behavioral change, this study contributes to the growing body of literature on Influencer Marketing and provides managers with important guidelines to select and design brand-influencers collaboration strategies.
Date of Award21 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorJoana Machado (Supervisor) & Carla Martins (Co-Supervisor)


  • Influencer marketing
  • Social media influencers
  • Source credibility
  • Endorsement attitude
  • Brand attitude
  • Purchase intentions
  • Instagram


  • Mestrado em Marketing

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