Social media is growing in size continuously from its introduction, as well as the number of people using it increases – there has been an increase of 9% since last year. Several impacts on consumer behavior are thought to arise from social media advertising, for example, Duffett (2017) argues for increased attitudinal responses from frequent exposure to social media marketing communications, meanwhile Ioanăs & Stoica (2014) write about added influence on other buyers and an easy impact on attitude emerging from just a small amount of negative information. Both papers (Duffett, 2017; Ioanăs & Stoica 2014) agree that the biggest impact is done on younger consumers, thus this paper will aim to examine and evaluate the scale and reality of the impact on young consumer behavior from social media advertising. The intention of the two following literature’s review is to show a decisive outlook on social media advertising largely in relation to the aforementioned effects.
Keywords: Social media; advertising; attitude; consumers
In Duffett’s (2017) research paper, the key goal to was to access the impact of social media communications on teenager’s (later specified as generation Z) cognitive, affective and behavioral attitude components. The approach of the study was to supply self-administered questionnaires at various colleges and high schools, throughout a sample size of over 13,000 young minds, ranging from 13 years old to 18. This assumption of importance of adolescents for social media advertising is also seen in the results from Ioanăs & Stoica (2014) paper – after analyzing the collected data, the conclusion that was ultimately found was that most of consumers who buy online are indeed young. There are many variables that can affect the attitudes of consumers, therefore some things may vary, but in general, as mentioned in Duffett’s article, attitudes toward advertising is a frequently postulated theory that states positive attitudes toward advertising results in analogous attitudes toward the brands, which in turn have a favorable influence on purchase intention (MacKenzie et al., 1986; Bruner and Kumar, 2000). In this case, we can hypothesize that the behavioral impact of social media advertising will act in accordance to the purchase funnel model, consequently impacting the younger participants more than the older ones.
To further drive the hypothesis, as quoted in Duffett’s (2017) article, it is apparent that more experienced teenagers had become accustomed to social media marketing communications because their higher attitude components were not as readily positively affected as those with less familiarity who were, therefore, found to be more susceptible in this study (Cox, 2010). Relating to these findings, it is fair to say that the impact on consumers behavior is likely to diminish over time compared with experience, therefore, in this age, where most people already have internet access, the younger consumers are the most relevant audience for social network advertising (SNA). This view is further strengthened in the study. Those young consumers who had used social media for 1 year or less exhibited the greatest positive behavioral attitudes toward SNA (Duffett, 2017).
Knowing that social media is growing disruptively, a few questions arise – what is the frequency of usage of social media and how does that impact the behavior of consumers in relation to advertising? According to Ioanăs & Stoica (2014) paper, majority of the respondents access social networks very often (53%) or often (29%). This shows that the abundant majority of social media users use it frequently, thus giving way to potentially large influences from social media advertising. Based on Duffett’s (2017) research, the teenagers who use social media more frequently than compared to others displayed the most favorable attitudinal responses to social media advertising. The most logical way to interpret these findings is to state that the most impacted by social media advertising group of consumers are young teenagers, who frequently and actively use social media.
Social media has a lot of direct and indirect interaction between consumers, so it likely is fair to assume that there must be an apparent influence on other consumers taking part. As quoted in Ioanăs & Stoica (2014) paper, Social media provides a new channel to acquire product information through peer communication (Kozinets, 1999). In this paper it is stated that one way consumers may change the purchasing behavior of others are through reviews of products or services used. According to Ioanăs & Stoica, a study of Deloitte Touche USA revealed that 62% of US consumers read consumer generated online reviews and 98% of them find these reviews reliable enough; 80% of these consumers said that reading these reviews has affected their buying intentions (Industry statistics). Referencing that data, we can see that impact could sway consumer behavior rather significantly, thus negative reviews may create a big impact on whether the consumer decides to buy an item or not. As mentioned in the article, previous research has indicated that even a small amount of negative information from a few postings can have substantial impacts on consumer attitudes (Schlosser, 2005).
The authors of both papers (Ioanăs & Stoica, 2014; Duffett, 2017) came to similar conclusions, even though Duffett’s study was conducted only on generation Z participants whereas Ioanăs & Stoica research took a view at all age varieties. This could be because the conclusions are universally true or the limitations of the studies limited both to similar conclusions.
Limitations of the studies
Some of further limitations may have impacted the results of the studies. Both studies did not have a significant enough sample of participants from rural areas. Apart from focusing solely on generation Z, Duffett’s research did not consider the number of social media types and bunched them in together. In Ioanăs & Stoica paper, a limitation could also be the underrepresentation of men, since women accounted for 3 times more numerous responses compared to men.
The impact of social media advertising has clearly been demonstrated throughout the summary of previous research papers, presenting a decisive show of large impact for younger adolescent consumers, especially for those who use social media actively. In combination of both research papers, it is not wrong to suggest that the behavioral impact of social media advertising will act in accordance to the purchase funnel model, as particularly pointed out in his findings by Duffet (2017).
- Elisabeta Ioanăs, Ivona Stoica, (2014). Social Media and its Impact on Consumers Behavior. International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2014, Special issue on Marketing and Business Development, e-ISSN 2247–7225, 295-303.
- Duffett, Rodney Graeme (2017). Influence of social media marketing communications on young consumers’ attitudes. Young Consumers, Vol. 18 Issue: 1, 19-39