Consumers' Impulsive Purchase Behaviours in Social Commerce: The Role of Social Influence


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Xi HU

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Awarding Institution
Award date14 Jul 2016


The Web 2.0 technology has changed the way consumers shop on line, leading to a novel model of electronic commerce (e-commerce), namely social commerce (s-commerce). S-commerce refers to a subset of e-commerce which involves using social media and leveraging user-user ties to facilitate business. Nowadays s-commerce has gained popularity and has become pervasive. However, the real economic value this new business model brings is not sufficiently explored. In compensation to this dearth of research, this thesis aims to investigate into an important type of consumer behaviour that may generate considerable business values for s-commerce: individuals’ impulsive purchase behaviours.

Specifically, this study focuses on the role of social influence (peer influence), since s-commerce encourages consumer-consumer interactions and collaborations. Based on social influence theory, the process via which a peer changes a consumer’s behaviour is interpreted along two dimensions: informational and normative. To further explore the factors which lead to these influencing processes and impulsive consumptions, the reflective-impulsive model of consumer behaviour is adopted, which suggests that peripheral cues decide impulsive behaviour. As a result, a research model connecting peripheral cues with influencing processes and impulsive behaviour is proposed. Via a survey of s-commerce users on Sina Weibo, I received 303 valid responses, based on which I empirically tested the research model.

The results indicate that consumers’ credibility qualities, including expertise and trustworthiness, are significantly related to both types of social influence they could exert on other consumers. Further, the s-commerce systematic cues, namely support for personalization and social interaction, could notably facilitate consumers’ exchange of social support. Moreover, informational social support significantly drives informational social influence. Meanwhile, emotional social support is strongly associated with normative social influence. These two types of social influence could significantly lead to a consumer’s impulsive purchase behaviour. The research implications, for both theory and practice, are expounded. Also, the present study yields opportunities for future research, as discussed in the thesis.