Consumer behavior is the process of selection, purchase and development of a consumption trend of goods and services (HOYER and MACINNIS 2008 pp. 39). Consumer behavior develops in stages; initially the consumer finds out the preferences, and then selects the commodities with high utility levels. The consumer then makes an estimate with the available money and the expected expenditures. An analysis of the prevailing prices of compliments and substitutes is then made, and the decision on the suitable product follows. Consumer behavior is influenced by factors such as culture, social, psychological and personal (BROGAN, 2010).
Consumer behavior is varying, among the youths, as social media becomes more and more prevalent among many consumers (BHAGAT and ANDREAS, 2009). Through this media, consumers can easily watch and comment about new and existing products together with their preferences. The introduction of social media initiated a shift from the traditional consumer behavior which involved youths searching for information and making decisions based on needs. The advancement in technology provided by social media is currently considered as the right and faster means of consumer information.
Social media has been prevalent among the youth with most of the users aged between teenage to 30 years. Consumption in such an age group is determined by influence, attitude, needs and background status. Social media enables these users to have control of their needs by making comparisons on available goods and services from their phones, laptops and I pads. Through the different forms of advertisements, the consumers make decisions based on quality and price of the available products. Multinational companies have been using such media as Twitter and Face book in conveying their messages to this group of customers. Social media has developed into a key factor in influencing consumer trends and brand commitment.
Youths view the traditional shopping method as time and money insensitive. They find window shopping as boring and lacking the latest in the market. Technology allows the young consumers to make their purchasing decisions at school or in social gatherings. They make their purchasing decisions on the available products on the internet (WOOD 2011 pp 303). They compare the different products available in terms of prices, efficiency and deliveries. Sites like Google+ assist customers with search engines in researching about products and track areas where customers can find the products. The social sites play a critical role in enhancing these decisions (TEERAYOUT, 2011). From the available products, for example, in Face book, customers who are limited on shopping time made aware of other options that still suit their needs.
Most manufacturers, retailers and entrepreneurs have taken the advantage provided by technology to advertise their products amongst youths. Through the creation of appealing blogs and in personal profiles, commodities are advertised with their services and prices. The consumers derive the information from these sites in making their decisions. Among the social factors that influence consumer behavior are the different types of groups on social sites that influence consumption. Most of the young consumers base their consumption with reference to peer groups (BROGAN, 2010).
In the modern society, young consumers like using faster means to shop and find out on the new arrivals in the markets. Social sites are used in more sophisticated ways in researching new products, company promotions, prices and reference to other people’s views on a commodity (PRIDE and FERRELL 2012 pp 147). Consumers are using the sites in validating their decisions and influencing others. On the other hand, retailers and manufacturers are using the sites as means of marketing their products.
The sites are viewed as windows through which manufacturers and retailers deliver their brand experience across all buying channels (PRIDE and FERRELL 2012 pp 147). The retailers define their target market through such sites and assist the buyers in making the right choices. Companies that use social media in marketing their products create relationships with their intended target groups than in the traditional media, where the medium of relationships was limited to audience. The use of these networks as means of marketing and advertising enhances competition whereby companies with the best strategy achieve more sales (BHAGAT and ANDREAS, 2009).
Social sites offer advertising spaces whereby different companies introduce their products to youths. The target groups have time to watch these products and research on their valuations in comparison to their intended purposes. With such information, the consumers decide on which products to buy. In addition, the sites have ‘share’ features whereby such information can be shared amongst the users. The more a product is shared the more is brand becomes familiar in the market. Most of the ideas that are shared capture the attention of users and influence on their purchasing decisions (LANTONS 2010 pp 295).
Social sites offer features such as like or comment, which enable companies to realize how their products are doing in the markets and what needs to be differentiated. From consumer psychology, products with many ‘likes’ tend to capture their attention and influence their consumption. In addition, the comments posted against a product influence a buyer’s decision on whether to go for the product or reject the offer (CURRAN and JAMES, 2011). The comments impact massively on the consumption attitude. An example can be derived in the increased sales in Apple Inc with the introduction of smart phones and I pads. At least 30% of the reports increase in sales was accrued to social sites. The company received more than 500,000 likes for phones and uncountable comments. There was a significant influence on the company sales as a result of the positive comments posted by the customers.
Young consumers are always on purchasing phases that influence consumption behavior. The first phase involves consideration of available brands, and then an evaluation of the company’s manufacturing the brands and finally a buying decision. With assistance from conversations and feedbacks given in the sites, they manage to make a decision. After a purchase, there is always an evaluation what will happen on the next purchase. Positive conversations determine if they will continue using the same product or brand or will change the brand. The modern consumer is extremely keen when it comes to research on products and in following conversations on brands (SINGH and DIAMOND 2012 pp 17). Such conversations are an influencing factor of consumer behavior.
More recent studies indicate that, an average of 66% of youths who use social sites tell their friends on products that interest them and influence their consumption behavior. Survey also indicates that 42% depend on the comments made by their friends or other users in making their purchase decisions. This implies that social sites and the information shared in the sites play a massive role in determining and making choices of consumption (CURRAN and JAMES, 2011). Most consumers will go for products that have more sales than those with low sales and negative feedbacks (BROGAN, 2010).
Social networks are not limited to the same geographical boundary (TEERAYOUT, 2011). The sites allow users from across the world to develop relationships that influence on their consumption behavior. The sites allow information flow across regions, and this assists in the image and brand development. This allows formulation of policies and strategies in branding that suits consumers in different regions. Wal-Mart, for example, has taken advantage of social sites in receiving feedbacks from customers across different regions of its operations. For instance, its expansion to China was faced with challenges relating to cultural differences. Most of the comments received by the youths allowed the management to have a feeling of what the expectations of the consumers.
BHAGAT, P. K., & ANDREAS, S. V. (2009). The Impact of New Media on Internet-Based Group Consumer Behavior. Journal of Academy of Business and Economics, Vol. 9(3).
BROGAN, C. (2010). Social media 101 tactics and tips to develop your business online. Hoboken, N. J., Wiley.
CURRAN, R., JAMES, M. L. (2011). Participating in the Conversation: Exploring Usage of Social Media Networking Sites. Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, Vol. 15(1).
HOYER, W. D., & MACINNIS, D. J. (2008). Consumer behavior. Mason, OH, South-Western.
LANTONS, G. P. (2010). Consumer behavior in action: real life applications for marketing managers. Armonk, N.Y., M.E. Sharpe.
PRIDE, W. M., & FERRELL, O. C. (2012). Foundations of marketing. Australia, South-Western, Cengage Learning.
SINGH, S., & DIAMOND, S. (2012). Social media marketing for dummies. Hoboken, NJ, Wiley.
TEERAYOUT, W. (2011). Success Factors of Online Social Networks. Journal of Global Business Issues, Vol. 5(2).
WOOD, J. T. (2011). Communication in our lives. Belmont, Calif, Wadsworth.