The authentic virtual influencer: authenticity manifestations in the metaverse

Bernadett Koles, Alice Audrezet, Julie Guidry Moulard, Nisreen Ameen, Brad McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Virtual influencers (VI) are fictional entities operated by third parties (freelance creators, digital agencies, or brands). Despite their increasing popularity, the way people approach these often human-looking yet entirely fictitious creations, and whether they view them as ‘authentic’, remains unclear. Existing conceptualizations of authenticity in the VI literature do not offer sufficient depth and richness to understand this complex phenomenon. Building on the Entity-Referent Correspondence Framework of Authenticity, this paper aims to explore different manifestations of authenticity in the context of VIs. We draw on interviews with consumers (64) and industry experts (11) to unveil different perspectives. Our findings demonstrate how the three types of authenticity—true-to-ideal (TTI), true-to-fact (TTF) and true-to-self (TTS)—apply to and manifest in a virtual influencer context. We conclude with theoretical contributions, with particular attention to the uncanny valley theory, managerial recommendations, and areas for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114325
JournalJournal of Business Research
Early online date11 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

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