Impact of Social Media on Consumer Switching Behaviour – A Study on Online Retail Shops in Germany
Anish Kumar (Date: 17.05.2016)
The influence of social media websites has been found very strong on consumer behaviour in terms of attitude, perception, brand image and purchase decisions (Ioanăs & Stoica, 2014; Attia, Aziz, & Friedman, 2012; Roesler, 2016). However, from a company perspective, the social media websites have a negative impact on consumer behaviour. For example, the reviews and opinions of people about the company’s products may strengthen the consumer’s decision to change their brand (word of mouth impact). Another example is, because of openness, a consumer gets better alternative brand through social media advertising and decides to switch his existing brand (Wu et al. 2014). However, there is very limited knowledge available regarding the impact of social media on consumer switching behaviour. Although there is limited research available, especially on the switching behaviour of consumers in online shops in Germany. However, the studies about switching behaviour in traditional market can be tested in an online environment. Whereas, the studies about the impact of online communities, social media reviews and peer groups on consumer behaviour are available, which can be used as a supplement. In accordance with this scenario, there is need to investigate the role of social media in consumer switching behaviour.
According to Wu-2 et al. (2014) social networking sites, now a day, are highly influential and highly representative web 2.0 applications. The common examples of social media include the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Blogs. The role of social media in switching consumers has been considered when the social media networks have started getting populated and companies have also started their appearance on social media networks. Newman (2016) says that the social media is not a marketing channel anymore, it is a platform for consumer experience. However, it is important to find out that how social media influence the consumer switching behaviour.
First, Mo, Li, & Fan (2015) and Almana & Mirza (2013) have confirmed the positive impact on online reviews on consumer purchase behaviour. This perspective can be seen as word of mouth impact or reference group impact on consumer buying decisions. A customer that is willing to buy New Samsung Gear can go to social media groups like Facebook or Twitter and find out the reviews from other people about their opinions and views about the product. These reviews and information would help the consumers to decide either to buy the product or not. The available research also confirms the positive impact of social word of mouth on consumer buying decision (I-Scoop, 2010) (Erkan & Evans, 2013).
Secondly, the social media advertising is being used by competitors of online stores. Almost all German online shopping stores are using social media advertising as a part of their marketing communication plan. For example, Amazon, leisure, Otto and many other German online retailers are having using the social media networks such as, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms for advertising campaigns. As discussed above, these social media advertising from competitor create a pull force in switching process and leads the customers to switch from one brand to another brand.
Based upon the findings of critical literature review, the focus of this session is to draw conclusions on research findings. The purpose of the research study is to investigate the role of social media in influencing customer switching intentions in German online shopping stores. Based upon secondary research, it has been found that the consumer switching behaviour is significantly influenced by a number of factors, which can be categorised as, online store related factors, products related factors, competitive factors and customer related factors. Additionally, the research findings also confirm that importance of social media is increasing from a marketing channel to a tool for influencing consumer behaviour such as, buying decisions, switching intentions and loyalty enhancement. The good news for online shopping stores is that the switching behaviour can be controlled through employing various strategies such as, enhancing customer loyalty, satisfaction, use of loyalty programs, use of extrinsic rewards and understanding consumer motivations within push and pull framework.
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