Bloggers can influence clients’ intentions to acquire commodities depending on the prevalence of use of the internet by different groups of people. According to research by Lenhart et al. (2010), as from 2006, the prevalence of blogging shifted from teen to older adults. Considering that older adults (18-29 years) are more likely to have had a better experience with the use of specific products, male customers are less likely to trust and/or depend on the information that bloggers relay in influencing their purchasing decisions.
Male clients have a tendency of finding out the taste of a product through experience. They will hardly go for a product based on a review by a blogger since such a person (blogger) may be giving counterfeit information in favour of the company but on the expense of the customer. Lenhart et al. (2010) present a decreasing trend in the participation of males in seeking information from blog reviews, although the trend is heightening when it comes to female customers.
Women and men may access the internet to view blogs in search of information on different products. Lenhart et al. (2010) assert that women and men access the internet to seek all types of information. However, health information constitutes one of the women’s critical areas of interest. For example, 70% of females who have not attained 50 years access the internet in need of health information.
Hence, women are more likely to search such information compared to men (Lenhart et al. 2010). Consequently, women are more likely to be influenced by bloggers to buy health management products such as body fitness, products for anxiety management, depression, and mental illness management compared to men.
Relating LR to H2
In a marketplace that is full of diverse products, sellers provide complementary or supplementary utility using advertising as a critical tool in drawing traffic to the attention of the products that are on offer. However, the increasing advertisement rate is making people cynical about the quality and utility levels of many products.
Nevertheless, Huang et al. (2007) assert that product recommendations by friends, family members, and other close relatives may erode the cynicism. Consistent with literature review and as suggested in H2, this situation implies that trusted recommendations as it is witnessed in the case of a blog that has been posted by a family member may make a product more credible in relation to the case of an advertisement that runs on a traditional audio or audio-visual platform.
Indeed, this situation may reveal why 79% of people deploy social media in gathering information on the appropriate products (Huang & Chen 2006). Organisations deploy different methodologies to communicate their brand to both the existing and potential customers. The complexity of the marketing environment for organisations that operate in a competitive market environment calls for the integration of marketing communications (Keller 2009).
For new products and services to have market appeal, diverse marketing communication approaches must be deployed to reach different target audiences of the adverts (Luck & Moffatt 2009). This claim implies that advertising needs to create a brand appeal. Consequently, as suggested in the literature review and consistent with H2, people are more likely to trust blog information from close relatives or friends who have already consumed the products.
Bloggers affect Consumers’ Intention to Purchase the Products/Services
Bloggers have a positive impact on the intentions of consumers to make purchases. Considering that blogging constitutes one of the mechanisms for influencing marketing, it has the possibility of increasing the consumption of the promoted products. Indeed, besides blogging, the literature on other forms of online marketing provides evidence on the probability of deployment of internet-based applications, including social media in raising the attention of customers on a given product.
For example, Micu and Pentina (2014, p. 159) study the impact of ‘paid advertising (banner ad plus banner ad) and publicity (news article plus banner ad) on clients’ attitude toward the brand in the context of different product categorisation approaches’. They accomplish this task by deploying the External Labour Marketing (ELM) and economics theory on information to test the approaches via which various communication modes affect the attitude of consumers towards different brand categories.
Micu and Pentina’s (2014) research findings indicate that the ELM creates effective attitude towards a product compared to the information economics. Accordingly, based on the above literature review, the inclusion of information concerning a brand in an online advertising environment communication mix has more impacts on the brand attitude for products that have low or moderate-involvement product.
For high-involvement products, the ELM experiences a greater influence when credible information is included in the advertisement mix. Credibility can be enhanced by the development of trust on information that is provided by bloggers. Therefore, where a given consumer can relate with bloggers at an individual level, it (the information) is likely to influence his or her purchasing decision positively.
Consistent with the literature review, the study finds a direct relationship between buying intentions and blogging. For example, 74 people claim to be influenced by product reviews that are posted online by bloggers in arriving at buying decisions. As suggested by the literature review, product reviews help clients in sieving confusing information about products.
Indeed, sellers now use sponsored recommendation posts as a strategy for increasing the sales of their products (Keller 2007). This claim means that sellers remunerate people who post reviews for products on a personal online platform such as a blog post (Forrest & Cao 2010). Indeed, personal blogs that carry information on product reviews need to be considered a form of products and/or service advertisement since such reviews offer partial information that compels the audience to purchase a given product, but not its competing products or services.
It is crucial to raise a primary question from the reviewed literature concerning the capacity of bloggers to influence positively consumers’ purchasing intentions is whether people who read personal blogs regard them (blogs) as sources of credible information concerning the utility of a given product. Lenhart and Fox (2006) suggest that despite the utilisation of sponsored blog posts as a means of customer communications, the credibility of the provided information is subject to interrogation.
Indeed, researchers such as Duan, Gu, and Whinston (2008) have carried intensive reviews on blog posts in terms of the capacity evaluation, products quality appraisal, and valence assessment. However, the literature review indicates gaps in terms of the contribution of marketers in shaping the attitudes of consumers towards a given product.
For instance, a study by Doyle et al. (2012, p. 387) indicates, ‘the availability of differences in online product information search attitudes and behaviours when consumers look at different product types such as search goods or experience goods’. However, amid the differences on how people view product information that is provided in an online environment, a recommendation on a product that is provided by a friend in a personal post can influence clients’ buying intention.
The capacity of bloggers to influence positively customers’ buying decisions can be explained by considering the case of the use of celebrities in online marketing. Celebrities are utilised to draw customers to consume a given product due to their high visibility and the respect they gain from members of the society. Consequently, an association of a product with such popular people is likely to attract a positive reception from the celebrity’s fans.
Blogs that are posted by celebrities or any other influential person recommending a given product influence customers’ buying intention. Mourali, Laroche, and Pons (2005) say that bloggers seem authentic due to their loyal following. As suggested in the research analysis, the literature review on bloggers’ influence on clients’ buying decisions indicates that the influence on buying intentions may vary depending on respect and popularity of a blogger.
In case bloggers recommend products, the information is trustworthy when compared to facts about the products that are availed through traditional advertising. Indeed, through bloggers, organisations develop the capability for overcoming cynicism and scepticism concerning their engagement in direct marketing. Although research and the literature review agree on the capacity of bloggers to influence consumers’ purchasing decisions, it is also imperative to note that blogging can also have negative implications for a product’s success.
For example, a blogger may be an employee of the company that manufactures the products under review. He or she may have had a negative experience with the organisation. Hence, he or she may give prejudiced product reviews. Although this situation impairs the attractiveness of the products under review to the target customers, the implication is that other researchers also identify the contribution of blogging in the clients’ purchasing decision-making process.
Consumers find Bloggers more Trustworthy than the Official Advertisement from the Manufacturers/Brand
Trust in the information that is provided about products constitutes a key parameter that determines the intention and the decision to purchase a profiled product in an online platform by a blog post. The research analysis indicates that 71.1% of respondents trust blog posts while 28.9% of then do not trust information that is provided by bloggers.
Based on these findings, trust is an essential factor that determines the capacity of blog readers’ decision to purchase products that are reviewed in a blog post. Does the evidence from the past literature on the influence of bloggers on purchasing decisions differ from the findings of the research?
The literature review presents trust as an aspect that is dependent on various factors such as the credibility of information that is provided in a blog post. Sicillia, Ruiz, and Munuera (2005) say that credibility implies whether people perceive the information source as discriminatory or not prejudiced.
Credibility also implies the degree of truthiness concerning whether clients can rely on the provided information. Hence, reliability and trustworthiness of information in a blog depend on the traits of the messages about a given product as given by a blogger. Such messages may increase or reduce the level of product acceptance by the target audience (Sicillia, Ruiz, & Reynolds 2006).
Therefore, in case consumers consider the provided information subjective or serving other purposes besides providing consumers’ experience, they are likely to regard it as incredible or untrustworthy. In such situations, they cannot base their buying decisions on the provided reviews about the product on the blog (Lee and Koo 2012). This claim suggests that trust constitutes a crucial factor when making buying decisions based on the information that is provided in a blog.
The literature on the contribution of trust in shaping consumers’ purchase decisions based on the bloggers’ product reviews suggests that product recommendations need to disclose the existing relationship between the blogger and the company that produces the reviewed items.
For example, sponsored recommendations need to reflect online reviews as a form of advertisement, rather than just considering it as a consumer experience review. To this extent, the literature review and the research analysis agree since non-subjective reviews of a product act as a central determinant of trust in the opinions that are provided by the blogger. Such reviews are a true indicator of the utility experience with a product.
Amid the importance of trust of bloggers in inducing clients’ buying decisions, it is crucial to note that some people may purchase not necessarily because they prioritise on the utility of the products as described by the blogger, but because they have a compulsive buying behaviour. People who suffer from compulsive disorders have possibilities of having experienced situations, which have led to the mistrust of their priorities and abilities.
Similarly, experiencing anxiety, depression, and stress are typical symptoms of compulsive buying behaviour. They lead to the urge to engage in compulsive buying. The behaviour is abnormal to the extent that people often regret after purchasing to reduce stress and negatives experiences because of repercussions such as the ensuing financial challenges.
For persons who have a compulsive behaviour disorder, Black (2009) says that their attention and thoughts give rise to anxiety and compulsion to reduce the discomfort that is associated with the failure to purchase products and services that they urgently desire. This case suggests that after making the first purchase based on trust of reviews offered by a blogger, the subsequent purchasing decision may be influenced by the obsessive purchasing behaviours.
Nevertheless, the overall purchasing behaviours may be influenced by the first buying decision, which develops due to the trust in the reviews of products as provided by a blogger. Therefore, the literature review on the contribution of trust in information by a blogger in influencing customers’ purchasing behaviour agrees with the research findings as discussed in the analysis.
Male Customers will be less easily Influenced by Bloggers Relative to Female Customers
People’s buying behaviours vary depending on various demographic and socio-graphic differences. For example, Park, Lee, and Han (2007) assert that women are more likely to be influenced by product reviews in blogs when it comes to making purchasing decisions compared to men. In fact, in the western nations’ settings, scholarly research by Smith et al. (2007) shows that women are more likely to be influenced by their peers to purchase compulsively compared to men.
This finding is especially the case when it comes to cosmetic and clothing products. Similarly, the Chinese people compulsive purchasing for cosmetic and clothing products is more prevalent among the females relative to males. Consistent with the literature review, this gender difference may be explained by the different attribution of certain roles to women in the Chinese society.
Women are more charged with the responsibility of obtaining products from self-service stores for family use compared to males (Li, Unger, & Bi 2014). They spend much time within shopping stores. Despite the fact that many Chinese women are now focusing on their careers, rather than acting as homemakers, they are still under the influence of their mothers.
This finding suggests the likelihood of learning shopping behaviours from their female parents. This claim may explain the differences in compulsive buying behaviours among females and males in the Chinese settings. With blogging now becoming more prevalent among old adults compared to teens, parents can post positive reviews of products on blogs (Lenhart et al. 2010). This strategy helps to draw more traffic in buying such products.
In case people who do the blogging are consumers who have the experience of the utility of the products and that women are more likely to engage in shopping, the implication is that they are also more likely to review cosmetic and clothing products. Thus, more women are more likely to have access to the product review blogs, which influence their purchasing decisions.
Consistent with the above literature review, female respondents are likely to base their purchasing decisions on information that is provided in a blog compared to men. Indeed, 74 people have been presented making a decision to purchase products after reading a blog. Surprisingly, 78.3% of them were females. Therefore, only 21.7% males make purchasing decisions based on product reviews by a blogger.
A significant proportion (82.3%) of people who purchase after reading a blog and/or who think that their purchasing decision is influenced by the products reviews comprises women. This observation suggests that bloggers are more likely to influence woman, as opposed to men, to buy their (bloggers) recommended products. A possible counter-augment is that more women have access to the internet compared to men.
However, research by Zhang et al. (2009) indicates that men and women are equally likely to use the internet. Based on the literature review findings, many reasons can be cited to explain why women seem more influenced by bloggers in their purchase decisions relative to the male consumers. Firstly, it can be noted that much of this difference is linked to the different shopping habits that exist between men and women.
A study by Lenhart et al. (2010) reveals that women are the leading purchasers, even in the home setting. Consequently, they are highly involved in the day-to-day purchasing decisions that are carried within and outside the home. For instance, the research confirms that women account for 85% of many purchases such as new homes (91%), computers (66%), healthcare (80%), bank accounts (89%), and many other areas of purchasing (Lenhart et al. 2010).
In this case, with more women than men being involved in the actual purchasing, it is evident that they (women) are more likely to go online to seek product reviews on diverse issues relative to men. Another major factor that can enhance the findings of the research where more women than men are influenced by bloggers is attributed to the usage of social media between the two categories.
For instance, women are more social in relation to men on social media and out of the social media (Lenhart et al. 2010). The study asserts that while more than 76% of respondents visit the social media, roughly one-half of women visit social media several times a day as compared to only a third of the men. In this case, more women are likely to visit blogs for diverse issues as compared to men.
This finding confirms that women are more likely to be influenced by bloggers since they are more likely to be engaged online. From this discussion, it is evident that the findings of this research are supported by other studies in the existing literature on why women are more likely to be influenced by bloggers relative to men.
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