Fashion blogs: How do ordinary consumers harness social media to become style leaders?

January 15, 2013

The Internet has given consumers the unprecedented opportunity to reach a mass audience and thereby advance their social position through displays of good taste, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Ordinary consumers were previously limited to sharing their views and tastes within their circle of friends and acquaintances, and only media professionals and others in powerful positions could reach a mass audience. But the Internet has made it possible for ordinary consumers to reach a mass audience or 'grab hold of the megaphone' through blogs, online review sites like , and user-generated content on sites like and Pinterest," write authors Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University), Jessica Miller (Southern Methodist University), and Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan).

The authors studied fashion bloggers who have succeeded in gaining a and found that the Internet has made it possible to accumulate cultural capital through public displays of taste. Once a blogger has established a large audience through repeated displays of good taste, this audience begins to attract the attention of the fashion system, and this then provides social and to the blogger, further augmenting her audience.

This marks a departure in how we think about what consumers do online. Earlier studies focused on the development of and highlighted consumer efforts to find like-minded others. The emphasis was on peer-to-peer communities, and what might be called the horizontal operation of taste, where taste displays serve to attract those who share one's cultural preferences.

"There are ordinary consumers who seek to gain a large audience rather than join a community of their peers, and they can do so by making venturesome displays of taste. Likewise, there are many consumers who are happy to provide that audience. Successful fashion bloggers have succeeded because they provided taste leadership. This serves as a reminder that hierarchy, and the elevation of a few above the many, remains a fact of life in contemporary society, at least within spheres such as fashion," the authors conclude.

Explore further: More than meets the tongue

More information: Edward F. McQuarrie, Jessica Miller, and Barbara J. Phillips. "The Megaphone Effect: Taste and Audience in Fashion Blogging." Journal of Consumer Research: June 2013.

Related Stories

More than meets the tongue

February 12, 2007

Does orange juice taste sweeter if it's a brighter orange? A new study in the March issue of the Journal of Consumer Research finds that the color of a drink can influence how we think it tastes. In fact, the researchers ...

Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers?

April 19, 2010

Women's fashion magazines are chock full of ads, some featuring bizarre and grotesque images. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, these ads are effective at grabbing consumers' attention.

Recommended for you

How much for that Nobel prize in the window?

October 3, 2015

No need to make peace in the Middle East, resolve one of science's great mysteries or pen a masterpiece: the easiest way to get yourself a Nobel prize may be to buy one.

Search for Egypt's Nefertiti gains new momentum (Update)

September 29, 2015

The search for ancient Egypt's Queen Nefertiti in an alleged hidden chamber in King Tut's tomb gained new momentum as Egypt's Antiquities Minister said Tuesday he is now more convinced a queen's tomb may lay hidden behind ...

New finds of a living fossil

October 2, 2015

The coelacanth fish, found today in the Indian Ocean, is often called a 'living fossil' because its last ancestors existed about 70 million years ago and it has survived into the present - but without leaving any fossil remains ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Mark Twain
not rated yet Jan 21, 2013
It's a very great information by you. socialbakers, hootsuite and socialkik are very good sites for users of social media. I always use these sites to increase my fan and followers

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.