A Study on Consumers' Collaborative Purchase Behavior in Online Social Groups


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
Award date8 Jun 2017


The widely used social media promotes the communication and collaboration between consumers and enterprises, which lead to a real consumer-driven shopping era. It gave birth to a new business model, social commerce, the core of a new way of life. The way of human life, the way to communication and the way of information dissemination will all be all changed due to the popularity of social commerce.

The commercialization of social media is the primary form of social commerce. Social networking services, such as WeChat and Facebook, increasingly become the mainstream channels of communication and transactions. The emergence of social networking services based online social groups brings a socialization of the online network environment. In such environment, the purchase patterns and social relations structure of participants will change dramatically. What are the differences between the consumption patterns of consumers who participate actively in the online social groups and traditional offline consumers? What are the purchase patterns of consumers within online social groups? What motivates purchase decision within the online social group? What are the impacts of individual-level and group-level factors of online social groups on consumer’s purchase behavior? What is the relationship between purchase motivations and actual purchase behavior within an online social group?

This thesis includes three studies. Study 1 uses case studies to analyse individuals purchase behavior within the online social group. The result shows that there is a new purchase behavior (collaborative purchase) in online social groups. People prefer to buy products collaboratively with other group members.

Study 2 conducts a social network analysis to idnentify implicit communities from online social groups and uses a content analysis to extract factors that influencing group member’s collaborative purchase behavior. In social network analysis, this study proposes a framework to identify implicit communities and extracts community features (e.g. clustering, vendor positions, social network structure) to explaining conusmer’s purchase behavior and product vendors’ profit. By compares the purchase pattern between different cases, this study also indicates the positive relationship between informal information and group member’s collaborative purchase behavior.

Study 3 uses an empirical investigation to examine and explain the impact of social climate on group member’s purchase intention and actual purchase behavior. The result shows that social climate has a significant impact on individual’s value perception, and thereby influences group member’s collaborative purchase intention and actual purchase behavior.

This thesis introduces a new pattern of online purchase within online social groups and builds up an analytical framework of online consumer and provides theoretical guidance for social network marketing. It enriches and develops theories related to online social group and online consumption. Therefore, this study has important theoretical and practical contributions.

    Research areas

  • social commerce, online social group, collaborative purchase, social network, content analysis, case study