Unravelling Consumer's Purchase Decision in Social Commerce: Social Network Lens and Social Power Theory

揭示社交電商中消費者的購買決策:社會網絡視角與社會權力理論

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

View graph of relations

Author(s)

Related Research Unit(s)

Detail(s)

Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Robert M DAVISON (Supervisor)
  • Yu Yu gang (External person) (Co-supervisor)
  • Yugang YU (External person) (External Supervisor)
Award date20 Jul 2021

Abstract

The development of social media and Web 2.0 technologies has fuelled the growth of social commerce (s-commerce) communities that fully integrate social attributes with electronic commerce (e-commerce) attributes. Maximising the use of social traffic has become a major challenge and an urgent goal for the emerging s-commerce communities. However, there has been limited attention and research on such communities and consumer purchase decision mechanisms in the fields of information systems, e-commerce and s-commerce. After conducting a thorough review of the relevant literature, this thesis identifies several research gaps. First, the decision mechanisms by which consumers make purchases in the s-commerce communities’ own e-commerce modules are unclear. Second, few studies have examined the influences of consumers’ social network ties and emotional factors on consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community. Third, few studies have focused on the role of social media influencers (SMIs) and revealed the mechanism inherent in their influence on consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community. Finally, there is a lack of comprehensive research that examines the influences of consumers’ own factors and SMIs on consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community. In order to fill these gaps, three sub-studies were conducted in this thesis.

Study 1 explores the influence of consumers’ social network ties and attachment on consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community from a social network lens combined with attachment theory. The study specifically hypothesises that both consumers’ out-degree and in-degree ties can positively influence consumers’ attachment to the community and other members, ultimately increasing consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community. The study used secondary data to validate the model with the data from questionnaire. Results showed that out-degree ties significantly and positively influenced community attachment and member attachment, but in-degree ties had a negative effect on community attachment and no effect on member attachment. In addition, community attachment confirmed a significant positive effect on consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community, but member attachment only indirectly affected purchase intention through community attachment. Study 1 combined the social network lens with attachment theory to explore the relationship between social network ties and attachment, to expand the generalisation of attachment theory and to establish an affective pathway consisting of social network ties and attachment. Doing so can reveal the mechanisms that shape consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community.

Study 2 examines the influence of SMIs. Based on social power theory and satisfaction-related literature, the study identifies four forms of social power (expert power, informational power, referent power and legitimate reciprocity power) that consumers can perceive from SMIs in s-commerce communities. This work also examines their effects on consumers’ economic satisfaction, social satisfaction and intentions to make purchases in the community. In addition, the study considers the moderating effect of community attachment. A mixed method of a field interview and online survey was used to validate the model. Results showed that, in addition to informational power, expert, referent and legitimate reciprocity power all significantly and positively influenced consumers’ economic satisfaction. Furthermore, referent and legitimate reciprocity power also significantly and positively influenced consumers’ social satisfaction. Both economic and social satisfaction significantly and positively influenced consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community, and community attachment strengthened the effect of social satisfaction but weakened the effect of economic satisfaction. Study 2 marks the first time that social power theory is applied to study the relationship between influencers and consumers and identifies the forms of social power that consumers can perceive from SMIs in s-commerce communities. Furthermore, a cognitive pathway consisting of social power and satisfaction was developed to explain the formation of consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community.

Study 3 integrates consumers’ own social network structures and the influence of SMIs. Combining social power theory with social network lens, this study explored the direct effects of SMIs’ four forms of social power and consumers’ in-degree and out-degree centralities on consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community, and the moderating effect of consumers’ in-degree and out-degree centralities on the effect of social power. The study combined secondary data with online survey data for hypothesis testing. Results showed that social power and out-degree centrality, with the exception of informational power and in-degree centrality, positively influenced consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community. Out-degree centrality enhances the effect of social power other than informational power, whilst in-degree centrality weakens that effect. Study 3 marks the first time that the roles of consumers’ social network structures and SMIs are examined together. Doing so adds to the overall understanding of the mechanisms that shape consumers’ intention to make purchases in the community and expands the boundary conditions for the effect of social power.

    Research areas

  • social commerce, social network lens, social media influencer, social power theory, attachment theory, economic satisfaction, social satisfaction, purchase decision