The past few years, there has been evident growth of technology providing people with what is regarded as a virtual environment which enables people to merge together increasing their interaction and creating many tools which has enormously exploited the capabilities of the web services. According to Mangold, the virtual environment has led to the introduction of social media which is rapidly becoming the new component that assist in the integration of communication in marketing as well as allowing organizations to establish the strongest of relationships between the organizations and their most potential customers (Mangold and Fauls, 2009).
According to Kaplan and Haenlen, the social media concept has currently been leading in the agenda for most of the business management, since most of the firms have been trying to identify ways upon which they can attain the maximum profit in the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and many more (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010). Kalpan and Haenlen also illustrates that different social media applications have a tendency of attracting different types of people and it is advisable for firms to be always active in the vicinity upon which their customers are present (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010). Due to presence of the social networks sites, there has been introduction or rather invention of new ways for consumers especially in their purchasing behavior. Currently is has social media applications have become so common to the extent that they cannot be ignored any more especially among consumers process of buying decision.
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The main purpose of the chapter is to ensure provision of a review basing on the consumer behavior existing literature (Kotler 2009). The review is expected to consist of the consumer behavior understanding as well as the occurrence of their behaviors more importantly in the digital environment. In addition how the interactivity of digital made an influence on their behaviors. In the research also, stimuli-response model by Kotler will be given a starting point of the consumer behavior and also in considering understanding the model, to begin with, the chapter will be expected to initiate discussions on the mam factors influencing the purchase decisions of the consumers and in addition slightly explain the stages involved in buying decision process as well as the way it has been developed (Kotler 2009). For a more insight on how consumers are bent on changing their behavior through the tools of social interaction behind the technology of Web 2.0,the chapter will emphasize on the digital interactivity among the consumers and moreover explain or rather describe the social media term with its different types.
The research also will provide social dimensions in regard to the social network sites and also evaluate ways in which digital interactivity has really influenced consumer’s decisions at the point of making a purchase. More importantly there is explanation of the model which is required to provide an insight into the digital buying behavior plus its common determinants which have been intended to be used in the research as a way of addressing the all the arising research questions.
Consumer behavior is defined as a study to gain knowledge on how individuals or groups of people purchase, utilize and dispose products, services and experiences in a way of satisfying their needs which is according to Simonson (Simonson 2001).However most of the researchers on consumer behaviors agree on that consumer behavior is usually influenced by three things individual, cultural and social factors.
Research indicates that consumers have a high tendency of interacting informally and continuously with their primary groups which includes family, co-workers and friends, religious also they prefer to belong to secondary groups such as religious and professional groups which practically requires less interactions.According to Kotler, both types of groups usually tend to have a direct and also an indirect influence towards the attitudes of consumers and also their behaviors (Kotler 2009).According to Kanuk,the influence reference groups have on consumer’s decisions as well as their buying intentions should not be undermined since they can be very strong .Moreover opinion leaders offering informal advice plus information regarding specific products or even brands may have a high influence on Consumers. According to Jensen, family as a reference group has the highest purchasing influence since parents have been found to have the highest influence on their children’s’ choices particularly the purchasing decisions (Jensen 1991)
Research indicates that the buyer’s decisions are highly influenced by the individual buyer’s personal characteristics which range from age, occupation, stage in life, self-concept, economic status, personality, values and lifestyle which is according to research conducted by (Kotler 2009).In accordance to the ever improving digital marketing ,organizations have resulted into setting up their own pages which links their followers or rather as they are referred to on the sites as ‘fans ‘through the social network platforms. It is in the social platforms that a firm can follow the consumers who are attracted or rather passionate about their brands and more importantly attract brand loyalties. Consumers have been found to have a high tendency of sharing their brand choices plus their personality in the social networks sites helping the organizations to gain some insight about the personal traits of their customers and also how they attribute to their brand of choice (Ryan and jones 2009).
According to Peter, culture can be articulated as the main consumer’s wants determinant. Cultural norms and the values usually serve as the guidelines for the behavior of consumers. Individual cultures consist of subcultures which lead to provision of more socialization as well as specifications for the members. These cultures can be categorized as geographic regions, religions and nationalities. Due to cultural diversity in countries, marketing campaigns have had to introduce a new strategy where they are aiming at defining the target markets in accordance to cultural diversity (Grier 2006).It is therefore paramount for marketers to comprehensively understand the characteristics of social classes since social classes portray different brand and product preferences (Kotler 2009).
Consumers’ set of psychological processes is a prime factor and also the characteristics of consumers in regard to buying decision process. Moreover the consumers usually combine their psychological processes with their characteristics in making their buying decisions which is according to Loken (Loken 2006).Loken also illustrated that there are four key psychological processes which influences the consumers buying decisions which include memory,motivation,learning and perception.
According to Kotler, people’s needs usually occur at any given time and therefore a need graduates to a motive when evoked towards driving them to acquire a desired target (Kotler 2009). People have to be motivated for them to act and in the event that consumers share similar product category, there is need to increase their motivation to ensure that they engage in elaboration of relations as well as different brand names evaluation
Upon motivation, people get ready to act hence their way of acting is usually influenced by the way they view a situation by their perception and also in terms. Therefore kotler described perception as the process of people selecting, organizing, and interpreting input of information to ensure creation of a meaningful world picture which actually affects the actual behavior of consumers (Kotler 2009). Upon high motivation of consumers, there is more likelihood of perceiving the environmental stimuli which is related to their needs and more so receives extra information in regard to their brand of choice which leads to a favorable evaluation.
After acting, people learn which is characterized by behavioral changes which emanates from experience. In accordance to theorist of learning, learning is produced upon the interplay of stimuli, reinforcement, drives, cues and responses which is according to Loken research (Loken 2006).For example in the event of a consumer purchasing a computer, and they happens to have an experience in rewarding, the response towards computers as well as its brand will be positively reinforced. In case the same consumer gets the urge to purchase a printer, they will experience a high tendency of purchasing a similar brand printer due to the assumption that since the computer of good there is a high possibility of the printer being good too.
The long term memory is the storage of all the information plus the experiences people have gained in their lifetime and in addition the majority of the widely accepted views of the structure of long term memory is an assumption that individuals are inform of links and nodes which is according to Wyer (Wyer 1989).However the consumer research indicates that the knowledge of the consumer brand is usually considered as a node memory having a variety of associations which are linked.
The theory developed by Hoard and Sheth ‘’Theory of Buyer behavior ‘’ identifies the elements of a buyer’s decisions and separates the elements into three which are a set of motives, several alternative course of action and mediators of decisions by which motives are usually matched with the alternatives. Motives are usually specific to a particular class of product and leads to reflection of the underlying buyers needs as well as the alternatives which are identified as various brands with the potential of fully satisfying the motives of the buyers (Howard& Sheth 1969).The buying decision is also referred to as the stage model which is illustrated as below.
Howard and Sheth in their research indicated that the post-purchase behavior and the pre purchase behavior are the main stages as far as the decision process is concerned (Howard& Sheth 1969). The three stages which include pre-purchase behavior, information search and evaluation of alternatives and problem recognition have a high likelihood of being changed, formulated and reformulated until the making of a decision (Mitchell & Boustani 1994).Upon making a purchase, the post purchase behavior stage is initiated which is inclusive of evaluation leading to satisfaction of consumers, recurrence of purchasing of the product as well developing a tendency of sweet talking about the product. Buyers however are usually stimulated by the social environment they are in which leads to provision of a purchase decision mostly the communication by word of mouth.Gilly in his research he cemented that the word of mouth is very influential towards consumer decisions making and also has been highly recognized in advertising literature as well as marketing (Gilly 1998)
The theory by Howard and Sheth about buyer behavior has provided a very deep insight of the decisions made by buyers. The theory has been based on four major components which includes response to variables, stimulus variables exogenous variables and hypothetical constructs. The theory illustrates that consumers are usually stimulated by their commercial environment which entails service of the products, information of the product, or quality and price of the products which is provided by the social environment (Howard and Sheth 1969).The hypothetical constructs are inclusive of the perception and learning constructs. Learning constructs helps buyers gain motives which leads to provision of action impetus as well as evoked alternatives set ensuring satisfaction of their motives.
Based on the theory, consumers have a tendency of matching their motives with alternatives and helps in ranking them in terms of the capacity of want satisfying which is done by decision mediators. By learning, inhibitors become active which includes high brand price, time pressure on the buyer’s financial status as well as the buyer themselves and lack of brand availability (Howard and Sheth 1969). In addition, consumers can be termed as satisfied or unsatisfied which is in accordance to the degree of the buyers expected and actual consequences. The constructs of perception usually serves the sensitivity of buyers to information, their search for information and their bias perception. After the said the constructs, the buyers usually respond to the mentioned input variety stimulus accorded with responses variety which may include intention or attitudes, behaviors as well as the purchase behavior .Horward and Sheth also indicates that the variables said to be exogenous which are the likes of culture, social class and also the buyers personality are also regarded as influential pertaining to the buyer’s decision (Horward and Sheth 1969).
Research done by Kaplan and Haenlein brings more insights to the meaning of social media since they define it based on two terms which are Web 2.0 and also User generated Content. The two describe social media as a group of internet-based applications that facilitates building on the technological and ideological backgrounds or rather foundations of the Web 2.0 allowing the creation and exchange of User Generated content (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010). Therefore according to the two researchers, social media creates platform on behalf of the users where they can come together and exchange, communicate, discuss and participate in any form of social interaction online encompassing texts, images, audio, video as well as other media which is usually as a combination or rather a group or individually. Kaplan and Haenlein also have brought it to the attention of all firms that they must oblige or rather be conscious of the social media tools which includes customer ratings and reviews, user profiles are the trending factors towards becoming or rather realizing the main source of information for most of the consumers especially during making an important purchase (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010).
There are different forms of social media which incudes ?
Blogs are social media tools which are of personal web pages .This pages usually avails themselves in multiple variations which includes summarizing the most important information in a specific area, service or product or describing the author’s life (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010). Blogs are mostly used to make report of local news, offer peoples ‘opinions as well as share their experiences and visions about any product, service, brand or purchasing.
They are sites which allow people to rate and review products, services, companies and anything they feels like.
They are sites such as Yahoo and Google which allows users to make their personal online discussions in regard to a topic of their choice which may be a particular brand, product or company.
Content Communities –Media Sharing Sites
Helps to share media content between users who exists between a wide range of different types of media which is inclusive of texts, photos, videos such as YouTube, PowerPoint presentation through slide share.
They are the most common social media sites. They allows users to connect by enhancing creation of a profile which has personal information, allows invitation of friends and also colleagues and grants them permission to access the profiles ,allows sending of emails plus instant messages among each other (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010). They include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Badoo.
Technology Acceptance Model focuses on technology aspects which are perceived by the user and on the other hand overlooks the issues which are behavior related issues which may cause an effect on the interaction between the user and technology (Davis 1986). Davis in his research indicated that Technology Acceptance Model comprises of three constructs which are perceived user friendly, perceived usage and usefulness (Davis 1986). Due to expansions effected on the model, it also includes the intention to use technology between variables said to independent as well as said to be easy to use and also those which are perceived usefulness and more importantly the dependent variable which is the usage of technology (Davis 1986). According to the model, Perceived Ease of Use is the degree to which a person believes in the usage of a particular system and that it would be effort free. Perceived Usefulness refers to the degree to which a person believes in the usage of a certain system and that it would enhance their job performance (Adams 1992). Impulsive Buying on the other hand is defined as the tendency for a consumer to spontaneously, immediately, kinetically and unreflectively make a purchase.
?According to the model by Kotler, when consumers are making a purchase, they have a tendency of combining their psychology and characteristics which may include social factors and personality when making a purchase decision (Kotler 1965). The research discovered that during the buying decision processes, the social interactive tools are perceived to be among the most trustworthy sources of information on the other hand the social network sites are presumed to be ideal in seeking opinion from friends’ .Consumer personality has been perceived to have an important role as far as purchase behavior is concerned. It is also out lite that increase in price leads to diminishing of social interactive tools usage (Kotler 1965). Moreover, when purchasing an expensive family influence takes heads .It is evident that social platforms are very influential when it comes to making a buying decision since it is means of collecting information about products, post purchase behavior and evaluation of the brand. The importance of social media sites is elevated even more due to their user friendliness making it easy to access information required and at any geographical location.
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