A consumer decision-making process is the indicator that is a significant aspect of marketing activity. The influence of individual factors on this criterion can determine the degree of the interest of the target audience in certain products. Vendors utilise different strategies to make an impact on potential customers and stimulate demand. As variables used in this study, social media and product involvement will be used to determine the role of their influence on the style of consumer decision making among young generation. The theoretical framework implies assessing all the involved variables and the target audience through analysing the relevance of specific impact factors. As an evaluation methodology, a literature review will be conducted. The effect of social media and product involvement on customer decision-making style among young generation is significant, and the contemporary practices of increasing demand for specific products imply utilising these impact principles.
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Research Problem Statement
As a research problem, the role of social media and product involvement needs to be defined in order to assess how these parameters are decisive in the practice of engaging young consumers and influencing their decision-making process. To conduct an appropriate evaluation, it is necessary to narrow the field of study and compose a research question on the basis of the given topic. It will sound as follows: what is the impact of social media and product involvement on customer decision-making style among young generation? This question is empirical because as the principles of evaluation, the application of relevant models will be considered, as well as the views of the target audience obtained during in questionnaires.
As the objective of this study, several tasks are set for disclosure:
- It is necessary to reveal whether there is a positive correlation between the concepts of social media and product involvement and the style of the decision-making process.
- It is required to evaluate each of the affected variables in order to determine if the proposed problem is relevant and whether there is a need to apply the existing knowledge to analysing the problem.
- It is essential to study the information provided in academic sources to have an idea about the specificity and significance of this topic in the field of scientific research.
- It is necessary to correlate the found data with the proposed hypothesis about the interaction of variables in order to prove the effect of specific factors on the peculiarities of the decision-making process among young generation.
To solve the problem posed, such research mechanisms will be utilised as a literature review, the compilation of a problem assessment methodology, and the analysis and interpretation of the data obtained. Based on this information, it will be possible to draw a conclusion regarding the relevance of this study and the reliability of the proposed issue. The combination of all the data will allow making a comprehensive picture and achieve the goals set.
Definitions of Terms Used
In order to eliminate potential difficulties in conducting research, it is crucial to define the key concepts that will be analysed. Social media are digital information resources that are available online. These platforms are usually designed for communication – the exchange of text messages, photos and video recordings, as well as information from the global network. Product involvement is the aspect that aims to stimulate consumer interest in specific products through special tools, for instance, promotional products or bonus mechanisms. The very concept of the decision-making process implies the activity that may depend on a number of factors, and assessing the impact of the aforementioned variables is the main goal of this study.
A literature review may provide an opportunity to assess the current findings in the area under consideration and draw conclusions regarding the significance of the study and all its components. Xie and Lee (2015) consider the role of social media as those drivers that stimulate consumer decision-making and argue that these resources serve as an effective mechanism covering a wide spectrum of the population. The authors’ research is empirical, and as a method of evaluation, they analyse public responses concerning involvement in online marketing and the role that such a tool plays in product perception (Xie & Lee, 2015). Also, a two-phase decision-making model is applied, and based on the analysis, “social media activities for brands have significant and positive impacts on consumers’ likelihood to purchase the brands” (Xie & Lee, 2015, p. 204). Hong (2015) focuses on product involvement as a variable that determines consumer demand. The results of this study where a sufficiently extended target audience is involved in surveys prove that customer expectations largely depend on how resilient certain goods are to product performance risk.
Studies on the role of media as drivers that stimulate the interest of young people and their decision-making process are often socially oriented. For instance, according to Austin and Pinkleton (2016), there are some marketing patterns that encourage adolescents to deviant behaviour. As examples, the authors mention tobacco and alcohol use, promiscuous sex, and other forms of unacceptable lifestyle among teenagers (Austin & Pinkleton, 2016). At the same time, such a concept as media literacy needs promoting in order to safeguard young generation about the harmful effects of undesirable digital content. Similar ideas are discussed in the study by McClure et al. (2016) who pay attention to the role of the Internet and its influence on young people’s alcohol use. The authors’ research based on respondent’s answers confirms the effect of online advertising on the rate of selling alcohol (McClure et al., 2016). Therefore, such a social outcome is undesirable and is the issue that needs to be controlled.
To determine the role of social media in the context of the topic under consideration, more specific examples of correlations are given in academic literature. In particular, the study by Djafarova and Rushworth (2017) focuses on identifying the effects of celebrity profiles on Instagram on the behaviour and purchase decisions of young females. The authors note a strong degree of trust of the analysed target audience to the content that they receive from their idols (Djafarova & Rushworth, 2017). As a result, the decision-making process of young females depends largely on the trends that are offered in the modern media space. The survey participants who are asked to comment on their buying habits argue that their trust level is based largely on their approval of the lifestyle of those that they follow (Djafarova & Rushworth, 2017). Consequently, the role of media personalities in the context of creating trends for certain goods and services may be assessed as high, and marketers who use such accounts to advertise particular products benefit from this.
The topic of product involvement is also discussed with reference to specific goods and services. Vanwesenbeeck, Walrave and Ponnet (2017) consider the role of advergames and their influence on the preferences of younger generation. In their empirical analysis, the authors analyse those children who take an active part in the advergames industry (Vanwesenbeeck et al., 2017). According to the researchers, those buyers who use highly advertised products tend to demonstrate “higher levels of positive brand attitude change” than those that utilise less popular services (Vanwesenbeeck et al., 2017, p. 526). Consequently, the level of fame and brand recognition in this industry affects the behavioural intentions of young consumers significantly. Similar ideas are observed in the study by Zhang, Zhao and Gupta (2018), but the authors are more focused on how to engage buyers. These approaches include the vividness of promotion, peers’ recognition and some other aspects (Zhang et al., 2018). Based on the results of this empirically validated analysis, the researchers note that self-reference “has a positive effect on decision-making quality” (Zhang et al., 2018, p. 160). Therefore, the influence of a particular advertising style has an essential role.
The study conducted by Samala and Singh (2018) includes the discussion of the impact of both social media and product involvement on consumer decision-making among young buyers. According to the authors, this target audience tends to show the positive assessment of those products that are advertised on online platforms and have many reviews among peers (Samala & Singh, 2018). Product involvement, in turn, is a similar mechanism that marketers capitalise on various Internet sites. As Samala and Singh (2018) note, the promotion of certain products on the global network stimulates broad discussions and encourages youth communities “to share their brand-related experiences” (p. 7). This approach allows maintaining a consistently high interest in certain products and demand for them, which are sellers’ main goals.
Duffett (2017) conducts a population-oriented study to determine how social media marketing tools influence young consumers’ decision-making process. The authors use a rather limited sample based on age criteria (13-18) to obtain the most relevant information (Duffett, 2017). According to the findings, social media may have a significant impact on young generation, and those adolescents who follow this form of marketing regularly tend to behave actively as purchasers. As a result, with the help of empirical analysis and questionnaires, it has been revealed that the contemporary means of advertising have a significant effect on young buyers. Javornik (2016) supports these findings in her research and notes that in today’s online environment, there are many opportunities that can influence consumer preferences and demand as a whole. As a result, compared with traditional marketing policies, “entertainment value has reportedly a stronger impact in the decision-making process” (Javornik, 2016, p. 257). Therefore, all the obtained findings prove a positive correlation among social media, product involvement and customer interest.
Summary of Previous Articles
|Article Title||Authors, Journal, Year, Vol, Issue||Keywords||Research Model||(X1) Independent variable & its dimensions||(X2) Independent variable & its dimensions||(Y) Dependent variable & its dimensions||Questionnaire||Population & Sample & Analysis Unit||Statistical techniques||Matching with the research topic dimensions|
|Influence of social media marketing communications on young consumers’ attitudes.||Duffett, R. G. (2017). Young Consumers, 18(1), 19-39.||Generation Z, social media marketing communications, behavioral, affective, attitudes, preference, cognitive, awareness, intention-to-purchase.||Generalized linear model.||Social media, marketing communications.||Product involvement; brand influence, product quality.||Young consumers’ behavioural attitude; a decision-making style.||Three self-administered questionnaires.||Thirteen thousand of 13-18 years old high-school and college learners; correlational principle of analysis.||Percent correlation.||75%|
|Understanding the consumer’s online merchant selection process: The roles of product involvement, perceived risk, and trust expectation.||Hong, I. B. (2015). International Journal of Information Management, 35(3), 322-336.||Electronic commerce, E-marketplace, Situational involvement, Perceived risk, Trust expectation.||Empirical analysis.||Product involvement.||Perceived risk.||Consumer decision-making.||The survey with 32 responses.||244 college students; personal evaluation.||Percent correlation.||50%|
|Augmented reality: Research agenda for studying the impact of its media characteristics on consumer behaviour||Javornik, A. (2016). Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 30, 252-261.||Augmented reality, Interactive technologies, Media effects, Consumer behaviour, Human-computer interaction, Literature review.||Empirical research.||Social media.||Augmented reality.||Consumer behaviour.||Customer perception surveys based on preferences concerning augmented reality.||Consolidated consumer surveys; a number of studies are involved; the analysis according to the specified criteria is conducted.||Grouping by categories.||50%|
|Social media and brand purchase: Quantifying the effects of exposures to earned and owned social media activities in a two-stage decision-making model.||Xie, K., & Lee, Y. J. (2015). Journal of Management Information Systems, 32(2), 204-238.||Brand Community, Brand Purchase, Facebook Fan Page, Multilevel Modeling, Social Media, Social Media Marketing.||Two-stage decision-making model.||Social Media.||Brand purchase.||Consumer decision-making.||Surveys among online users concerning preferences in purchases.||2.463 media exposure ties and their stakeholders; indicators varying from minimum to maximum.||Percent tables and comparative diagrams.||50%|
|The viability of media literacy in reducing the influence of misleading media messages on young people’s decision-making concerning alcohol, tobacco, and other substances||Austin, E. W., & Pinkleton, B. E. (2016). Current Addiction Reports, 3(2), 175-181.||Media, decision-making, advertising, literacy||Message Interpretation Process Model||Social media||Media messages||Media literacy||Survey among high-school students||Answers of high school students selected according to different criteria of responses about the impact of social media are evaluated on a percentage scale.||Percentage correlation||75%|
|Exploring the credibility of online celebrities’ Instagram profiles in influencing the purchase decisions of young female users||Djafarova, E., & Rushworth, C. (2017). Computers in Human Behavior, 68, 1-7.||Purchase, decision, online, media, celebrity||Empirical model||Instagram profiles||Media trends||Purchase decisions among young females||Interviews with Instagram users||18 female Instagram users aged 18-30 are involved randomly through a survey||Percentage correlation||75%|
|Millennial’s engagement with fashion brands: A moderated-mediation model of brand engagement with self-concept, involvement and knowledge||Samala, N., & Singh, S. (2018). Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 23(1), 2-16.||Engagement, fashion, product, millenials||Moderated-mediation model||Brand Engagement||Self-concept in social media||Decision-making||A survey among students||621 graduate students are interviewed to test their preferences and motivational drivers||Tables and diagrams with statistical data||100%|
|Children and advergames: The role of product involvement, prior brand attitude, persuasion knowledge and game attitude in purchase intentions and changing attitudes||Vanwesenbeeck, I., Walrave, M., & Ponnet, K. (2017). International Journal of Advertising, 36(4), 520-541.||Advergames, involvement, brand, persuasion, purchase||Empirical model||Product involvement||Brand attitude||Purchasing habits||Pre-test and full surveys||279 children of 10-12 years old are selected randomly, and their responss are analysed||Correlation tables||75%|
|The role of online product recommendations on customer decision making and loyalty in social shopping communities||Zhang, H., Zhao, L., & Gupta, S. (2018). International Journal of Information Management, 38(1), 150-166.||Product, recommendation, shopping, online, loyalty||Empirical model||Product recommendations||Self reference||Decision-making||A single survey||630 respondents are engaged (21-39 years old), and their answers are distributed by age and gender||Correlational tables||75%|
|Internet alcohol marketing and underage alcohol use||McClure, A. C., Tanski, S. E., Li, Z., Jackson, K., Morgenstern, M., Li, Z., & Sargent, J. D. (2016). Pediatrics, 137(2), e20152149||Internet, alcohol, marketing, social||Empirical model||Internet marketing||Social media||Alcohol purchases among young people||A survey among adolescents||Young people less than 18 years old, randomly selected participants, the assessment of responses based on individual criteria||Correlational tables||50%|
The variables included in the research question will be assessed separately, and further, conclusions will be made regarding the relevance of the proposed concepts and their role in marketing campaigns. As the population involved in the research, the responses of young consumers will be analysed in order to obtain relevant facts and the general picture of the relevance of the proposed variables. A research sample will have no gender restrictions, but such a criterion as age will be taken into account to limit a sampling framework. The hypothesis is as follows: social media and product involvement play a significant role in forming young consumers’ decision-making habits.
The data will be collected based on the analysis of the presented variables and the evaluation of the information obtained from the literature review. As a primary assessment tool, a traditional survey will be utilised as the most convenient means of obtaining people’s opinions. Young Internet users will be engaged (18-25 years old); gender and other restrictions will not be considered. The survey will be offered to the respondents who will give answers suggesting the assessment of their preferences and influences affecting their buying decision-making style.
Measurement of Variables
In order to conduct research as rationally as possible, it is crucial to understand how each of the variables used will be measured. In this topic, three key concepts are applied – social media, product involvement and customer decision-making. The first variable will be measured by the following criteria: consumer involvement in the online environment, preferences regarding marketing styles, organisations’ work on creating an appropriate advertising base and activities on promoting online purchases. The second variable is product involvement that will be evaluated in terms of the brand value, resistance to risks, competitiveness and preferences for specific products. Finally, to measure the specifics of consumer decision-making, a few factors will be assessed. In particular, they are the readiness to introduce new products, the desired areas of purchases, the types of marketing policies (bonuses or promotions) and individual preferences by personal characteristics.
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The two types of variables proposed for evaluation are social media and product involvement (independent) and customer decision-making (dependent). To model a research problem, it is necessary to determine the effect of independent variables on the dependent one. Accordingly, in the target group of participants, it is required to find out how the chosen criteria determine the members’ propensity and preferences regarding purchasing decision-making. In this case, young males and females will answer specific questions about whether such factors as social media and product involvement are relevant to them and their styles of shopping behaviour.
As a statistical technique, the standard principle of evaluation based on averages will be applied. Since there are no gender criteria, age correlations will take place. To achieve the most accurate display of digital indicators, it is possible to apply for special statistical equipment, for instance, a program for calculating average percentages based on the total number of available data. Also, standard calculations can be used because not too complex figures will need to be analysed.
Too different responses and insufficiently accurate correlations can be potential estimation problems. In order to avoid them, it is essential for all the survey participants to understand the importance of the research and to be ready to respond honestly. Also, it is crucial to ensure that anonymity is respected, and no private data of the participants will be disclosed. This will make the study credible and unbiased, which are mandatory conditions.
To obtain the most accurate data, the survey is based on the list of questions that are associated with the topic in question. The study participants are young people from 18 to 25 years old, and the gender factor is not taken into account. Each member of the survey confirmed his or her being an active user of social networks and having stable access to online shopping. In order to make the study credible, unfamiliar young people are attracted, and their cultural background and demographic characteristics may differ. The following 10 relevant questions are offered to 40 survey participants:
- Are you more willing to buy a product if you see positive reviews on it on social networks?
- Does your choice of purchases depend on the brand popularity and the quality of product advertising?
- Can you confirm that the value of certain goods depends on the number of sales?
- Do you often feel the desire to purchase those products that celebrities use?
- Do you pay attention to the advertising of popular goods on the Internet?
- Can advertising materials encourage you to recommend a particular product to other people?
- Do you rely on peers’ opinions when choosing goods online?
- Have you ever had an insurmountable and spontaneous desire to purchase a specific product?
- Do you have less interest in unfamiliar products than in popular ones?
- Do you remember the purchases that you bought under the influence of others’ opinions?
In accordance with the data obtained in the survey process, the overwhelming number of respondents (80%) confirms that such criteria as advertising in social media and brand involvement influence their decision-making process. 15% of respondents argue that their preferences are not based on external factors. The remaining 5% of participants find it difficult to answer the questions given. In total, 40 respondents were interviewed, and the data obtained may be interpreted in accordance with the principle of measuring variables.
Data Analysis and Interpretation
Social media, as the first independent variable, may be assessed according to the aforementioned criteria. Drawing on the survey results, consumer involvement in the online environment is strong, and certain marketing patterns and product promotion activities are essential drivers. This means that today, sellers rely heavily on online purchases and use all possible resources to increase demand. The variable associated with product involvement implies assessing the respondents’ answers regarding their preferences. In general, it can be noted that resistance to risk and the brand value are key criteria that form the trust of the target audience. Also, the degree of market competition is an important factor. As a result, the proposed hypothesis about the role of the variables in the context of influencing the decision-making process among young generation is proved, and the results of the survey confirm the initial assumptions.
The role of social media and product involvement in relation to young consumers’ decision-making is significant. Based on the survey, the target audience is mostly affected by certain marketing patterns promoted today. The practical significance of this research is an opportunity to refer its results and conclusions to studying related topics, for instance, the impact of outdoor advertising on the sales of specific goods and services.
Austin, E. W., & Pinkleton, B. E. (2016). The viability of media literacy in reducing the influence of misleading media messages on young people’s decision-making concerning alcohol, tobacco, and other substances. Current Addiction Reports, 3(2), 175-181. Web.
Djafarova, E., & Rushworth, C. (2017). Exploring the credibility of online celebrities’ Instagram profiles in influencing the purchase decisions of young female users. Computers in Human Behavior, 68, 1-7. Web.
Duffett, R. G. (2017). Influence of social media marketing communications on young consumers’ attitudes. Young Consumers, 18(1), 19-39. Web.
Hong, I. B. (2015). Understanding the consumer’s online merchant selection process: The roles of product involvement, perceived risk, and trust expectation. International Journal of Information Management, 35(3), 322-336. Web.
Javornik, A. (2016). Augmented reality: Research agenda for studying the impact of its media characteristics on consumer behaviour. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 30, 252-261. Web.
McClure, A. C., Tanski, S. E., Li, Z., Jackson, K., Morgenstern, M., Li, Z., & Sargent, J. D. (2016). Internet alcohol marketing and underage alcohol use. Pediatrics, 137(2), e20152149.
Samala, N., & Singh, S. (2018). Millennial’s engagement with fashion brands: A moderated-mediation model of brand engagement with self-concept, involvement and knowledge. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 23(1), 2-16. Web.
Vanwesenbeeck, I., Walrave, M., & Ponnet, K. (2017). Children and advergames: The role of product involvement, prior brand attitude, persuasion knowledge and game attitude in purchase intentions and changing attitudes. International Journal of Advertising, 36(4), 520-541. Web.
Xie, K., & Lee, Y. J. (2015). Social media and brand purchase: Quantifying the effects of exposures to earned and owned social media activities in a two-stage decision making model. Journal of Management Information Systems, 32(2), 204-238. Web.
Zhang, H., Zhao, L., & Gupta, S. (2018). The role of online product recommendations on customer decision making and loyalty in social shopping communities. International Journal of Information Management, 38(1), 150-166. Web.