Texas Tech University

Doctoral Student Researching Role of Influencers in Building Brand Relationships

Hailey Walker

Ashley Hass

Ashley Hass received funding for her research addressing the impact of micro-influencers on consumer brands.

Ashley Hass, a graduate student working on her doctoral degree in marketing at the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, received funding from the Marketing Science Institute (MSI) to conduct research related to the roles of micro-influencers as trusted brand advocates.

"It's just such a great honor," said Hass. "Getting a grant like this is validation to the work that I'm doing, and it's a really big win."

MSI, a research-based organization, funds academic research and promotes its practical application with the aim of advancing marketing knowledge. In order to receive support from MSI, Hass submitted a proposal that included preliminary findings, a literature review, methodology for the new study, a timetable of project activities to be performed and expected project deliverables. Of the many competitive proposals submitted, Hass' was selected, which will allow her to move forward with designing and conducting research studies, then analyzing the data.

"MSI is a prestigious, research-based organization with a network of marketing academics and marketers from leading companies," said Hass' advisor and mentor, Minnie Piper Stevens Professor of Marketing at Rawls College, Debbie Laverie. "It is a real honor for Ashley to receive this funding and demonstrates her research is on the leading edge of marketing thought and practice."

Hass' research focuses on the role of micro-influencers, individuals who are average consumers with less than 100,000 followers on social media and promote products for companies, as a more trusted means of marketing as well as the types of relationships they build with consumers, brands and firms. Through her research, Hass hopes to gather insight into how micro-influencers impact consumer's relationships with brands.

"Influencer marketing has been exploding on social media, especially at this micro-level, and companies are spending money on smaller influencers instead of just purchasing one celebrity or larger influencer post," said Hass. "It's really important for practitioners and scholars to understand how this is impacting consumption habits."

Once her research studies are completed and the data is analyzed, Hass will submit a manuscript to target journals, complete a competitive paper presentation at a selected conference and present a white paper report to MSI.

"MSI's funding award is a testament to Ashley's achievements as an early-career researcher and is important in recognizing the continuous need to support graduate education across all disciplines," said Director of Grants and Outreach at Rawls College, Archie Pitsilides.

Hass believes the support and encouragement she receives from Rawls College faculty and her advisors, greatly impacts her research.

"Honestly, when I was looking for programs, I stopped looking after I found Texas Tech because of the faculty and the interactions that I had on my visit," said Hass. "The faculty have been so supportive and their doors are always open if you ever need anything."

Upon earning her doctorate, Hass plans to work in academia, where she can combine her passion for teaching with her love of research.

"I really enjoy doing research, and I am excited to start teaching soon," said Hass. "So many people have helped me here at Texas Tech, and I look forward to being that person to help someone like me someday too."