Social media influence: Qualitative study of Colombian consumer attitude toward social media and its influence

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Degree Project, 30 credits

Social media influence

Qualitative study of Colombian consumer attitude toward social media and its influence

Author: Juan Sebastian Duque Supervisor: Soniya Billore Examiner: Saara Taalas Term: Spring 2017 Subject: Business Administration with

specialisation in Innovation Level: Master

Course code: 5FE07E

Program: Innovation through Business, Engineering and Design



Through this journey, different people have been part of it. Therefore, I would like to bring my biggest appreciation to those who mentored me along the journey. First, to my supervisor Soniya Billore, who kindly guided me in the most outstanding way possible, if it was not for her I could not have done it on the right path for this research. Also, I would like to thanks, Saara Taalas who gave me valuable feedback to develop my work.

And not last, one person that I consider my business mentor Cristobal Lopez, who guide me on the practical route of forming Novanex in parallel with this master program.

I have a big appreciation for Linnaeus University for their support with my scholarship to complete my studies. Thanks for bringing such as dynamic and modern environment to the everyday life of the students, and most important the entrepreneurial values that are being taught at the university.

I would like to express all the good things that I learned along the way in this Master Program Innovation through Business, Engineering and Design. The combination of different perspective was key to develop a more open mind and consider issues in a more efficient manner. One significant aspect to mention is the multicultural background that I experienced in this program was unique. Thank you to every professor involve in this program and to my classmates for the experiences and memories that I take with me.


‘‘If you are on the wrong train, you can get off at the next station. If you missed the right train, you would never catch up ... Dare to do things'' Ann- Charlotte Larsson –

Vice-rector for internationalisation.

Sebastian Duque May 2017

Växjö, Sweden. Linnaeus University.



Master Thesis, Master of Science in Innovation through Business, Engineering and Design with specialisation in Business Administration.

Field of research: Business Administration, School of Business & Economics University: Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden.

Course code:5FE07E Semester: Spring 2017

Author: Juan Sebastian Duque L.

Examiner: Saara Taalas.

Tutor: Soniya Billore.

Title: Social media influence.

Subtitle: Qualitative study of Colombian consumer attitude toward social media and its influence

Background: The reason for conducting this master thesis in the field of Colombian consumer perspective and the influences on social media, was due to the realisation that there was a need for an increased understanding of the influences that social media is making on Colombian consumer. Besides, the main question is why Colombia? This country is a developing country that its level of growth in multiple sectors is remarkable. It is a market that is attracting multinational companies and expanding with prestigious national brands. The furniture industry is one of the most competitive businesses in this country, therefore using every single resource to acquire customers is a relevant aspect to take into consideration. However, the digital marketing and e- commerce are just emerging. Therefore, there is a need to understand how the Colombian consumer perceives and is influenced by the social media. Also, as Colombia is ranked number 15 with the most daily active users worldwide, meaning that the digital market on social media has a high potential. Colombian consumers are different than European consumer regarding online and social media purchase.

Therefore, it is important to understand their attitudes and cognition about this subject.

Research question: Q1: How do Colombian consumers perceive the purchase of furniture products through social media?

Q2: In which way social media influence Colombian consumer’s attitudes toward purchasing furniture?

Purpose: Identify what is the Colombian consumer’s attitude and perception toward purchase furniture through social media. Also, recognising how does social media influence Colombian consumer attitudes toward buying furniture.

Method: The research design was qualitative and abductive manner. The empirical data was collected through Semi-structure interviews. It was essential for this study to settle in the ontological part as consumers’ behaviour was examined.

Conclusion: This research found that Colombian consumers have a negative attitude towards social media. Nevertheless, this first attitude tends to change when it comes to the influences that social media have in their final decision making when purchasing furniture. Also, the Colombian consumer is seeking for information on social media for every purchase they make. Reviews are a key aspect that they take into consideration when purchasing an item of furniture. These reviews have the power to influences their perception of products and their final decision either to positive or negative.

Keywords: Social media, ABC model, Social cognition, Information search, Colombian consumer


List of abbreviations

WOM- Word of mouth SM- Social Media

ABC - Affect, Behaviour & Cognition.


Table of Contents

1 Introduction ... 6

1.1 Background ... 7

1.2 Colombia as a key player ... 9

1.2.1 Colombian consumer ... 14

1.2.2 Culture ... 16

1.3 Problem discussion ... 16

1.4 Research Question ... 18

1.5 Purpose ... 18

1.6 Delimitations ... 19

1.7 Research design. ... 19

2 Literature review ... 21

2.1 Social media ... 21

2.1.1 Social Media Networks ... 22

2.2 From traditional marketing to Social Media Marketing ... 22

2.3 Consumer purchase intentions/online environment ... 24

2.4 Consumer behaviour ... 26

2.5 Social cognition theory in mass communication ... 26

2.6 Attitudes ... 28

2.7 ABC model for attitudes ... 29

2.8 Information search by consumer for products ... 31

2.8.1 Internal Vs. External search ... 32

2.8.2 Deliberate vs. ‘accidental' search ... 33

2.8.3 Consumer’s prior expertise ... 33

2.9 Conceptual framework ... 34

3 Methodology ... 36

3.1 Research approach ... 36

3.2 Qualitative approach ... 38

3.3 Research design ... 40

3.4 Sampling ... 41

3.4.1 Sample size ... 41

3.4.2 Variation sampling ... 42

3.5 Data Collection Method ... 42

3.6 Operationalization of the interviews ... 44

3.7 Pre- testing ... 47

3.8 Data analysis method ... 47

3.9 Quality criteria ... 50

3.10 Ethics ... 52

4 Empirical Findings ... 54

4.1 Interaction with social media and its purpose. ... 55

4.2 Online purchase/ Social Media ... 56

4.3 Seeking of information. ... 59

4.4 Interaction with furniture companies Attitude ... 61

4.5 Reviews and customer experiences ... 62

4.6 Social media influences ... 66

4.7 Furniture purchase through social media. ... 67

5 Data analysis ... 71

5.1 Reasons for being on social media. ... 71


5.2 Online purchase/Social Media ... 72

5.3 Information Search & Social cognition ... 74

5.4 Attitude ... 76

5.5 Attitude + Information Search + Social cognition ... 78

5.6 ABC Cognition + Information Search ... 82

5.7 ABC model ... 84

6 Conclusion ... 87

6.1 Key findings and research implications ... 88

6.2 Further research ... 89

6.3 Limitations ... 89

7 Reference ... 90

8 Appendix ... 99

Table of Figures Figure 1 Author adaptation, Colombian growth stands out in South America Source ... 10

Figure 2 Authors adaptation, Inflation in Colombia has remained close to 3% target for five years. Source: ... 11

Figure 3 Author’s adaptation, Annual growth rate Source: adaptation from ... 12

Figure 6 Evolution of web technologies. Source: adapted from Spivack (2009) ... 23

Figure 7 Author’s Adaptation; buyer decision process (Kotler & Armstrong,2014, p.154) ... 26

Figure 8 ABC Model ... 31

Figure 9 conceptual frameworks - ABC consumer attitude toward social media ... 35

Figure 10 Interaction with social media and its purpose – theme and pattern ... 56

Figure 11 Online purchase/social media patterns and theme ... 58

Figure 12 Seeking for information theme & pattern, ... 61

Figure 13 Interaction with furniture companies theme ... 62

Figure 14 Review and customer experience patterns & theme ... 65

Figure 15 Social media influences patterns & theme ... 67

Figure 16 Furniture purchase through social media pattern & theme ... 68

Figure 17 flow map of the empirical findings ... 70

Table of Tables Table 1 Author's adaptation: Furniture consumption in Colombia. Source: The world bank ... 13

Table 2 Author's adaptation, Furniture imports 2014 Colombia and Latin America ... 14

Table 3 Autthor’s adaptation, Comparison between Social Media and Traditional Media ... 24

Table 4 Adaptation Consumer information search framework. Solomon et al., 2013 .... 32

Table 5 Operationalization ... 47

Table 6 Data reduction process ... 49

Table 7 Interviews ... 54

Table 8 Operationalization ... 86



1 Introduction

The media communications have been changing worldwide with the expansion of social media usage. Besides, it has impacted companies, making them under pressure to redirect themselves to the different environments that their customers are focusing on (Baird and Parasnis, 2011). Social media has risen several opportunities but also a considerable number of challenges. Social media has made a shift of control, where customers can have more monitoring and power than companies. This reduced the push of information from businesses to consumers (Baird and Parasnis, 2011).Social media is assumed as a direct impact on consumers and their perception with regards to purchasing intention (Pookulangara and Koesler, 2011)

Colombia is identified as a late starter on the Digital era in South America. Despite this, Colombia has been evolving due to government policies and creating promising future for Social Media era (Beck and Villegas, 2015). Moreover, Colombia is ranked number 15 worldwide due to its high number of daily active users on social media platforms.

More than twenty millions of Colombian consumers are using daily the social media platform such for example; Facebook. (Ministry of Tecnology and information (MINTIC), 2014). Subsequently, making Colombia a key player in the social media- marketing environment for companies and consumers.

Users around the world have different behaviours and engagement towards media channels or a brand when purchasing goods or services (Goodrich and Mooij, 2013).

Multiple factors can influence consumer's behaviour, as well as their perception, engagement and purchase intention through social media. These factors can differ among cultures (Goodrich and Mooij, 2013). In this paper, by examining what the perception of Colombian consumers to purchase furniture through social media is, also identify which are the factors that influence their decision-making on social media. A research methodology has been set with an abductive approach. Furniture was chosen due to the high competitive market, also due to the fundamental role that is playing e- commerce for this industry in Colombia. The data collection was based on semi- structure interviews with 10 participants.


The behavioural change towards social media shopping could be affected, or at least influenced, if strategists acknowledge how new attitudes can be modified or form in consumers (Blackwell et al., 2006; Blazenka et al., 2014). In this study, an attempt has been made to explain the attitudes of different Colombian consumers on social media regarding furniture purchase. The ABC (Affect, Behaviour, Cognition) model of attitude formation, Information search and Social cognition have been used to study Colombian consumer's attitudes toward social media and purchasing. By using these theories and model, the aim is to bring strong enough arguments to support the findings of which are the real factors that influence their attitude towards social media and purchase through it.

Some literature on this issue is available for different world markets, but for the Colombian market, there are only a few studies based on consumer behaviour and preferences. Also, the literature shows that no previous researchers have specifically examined Colombian consumer attitude toward social media purchasing of furniture.

The furniture industry is one of Colombian's strengths of the economy. The furniture industry has shown a growth yearly. At the same time, Colombia is the second largest producer of furniture in Latin America (El pais, 2016). Therefore, as this industry is growing the consumers have a wider option to choose from online and offline.

1.1 Background

Social Media has changed the landscape of communication between companies and consumers; also, Social networking is growing rapidly worldwide (Goodrich and Mooij, 2013). Social Media has created multiple opportunities and several challenges for businesses in an international context. Companies are striving for capitalising on these opportunities that social media brings, e.g., higher engagement, customer acquisition, customer retention and communication (Valos et al., 2015). The marketing world has suffered changes during the past 50 years. However, the most dramatic changes have been in the past few years' due digital business strategies (Adobe Systems Incorporated, 2014). Social Media can describe the right customer profile, and help in the segmentation, targeting and position of marketing strategy. Besides. Spending a considerable budget on laborious market research are over (Canady, 2017) Traditional marketing was meant to be one-way communication; however, social media has created


a two-way communication. Also, In the past marketing was a closed system that only companies could contribute with information and content, but now social media has created an open system where users can generate and share their message and experiences to a large extent (Chong et al., 2016; Hausman, 2012). Social media has facilitated the development of specialised consumer knowledge in the form of virtual communities of consumption. Where word of mouth (WOM) makes a quicker diffusion of opinions and affects purchase decision, also at the same time has created a place for post-purchase opinion and experiences (Valck, Van Bruggen and Wierenga, 2009).

The growth of social media has influenced how consumers behave in all types of markets (Lamberton and Stephen, 2016). Social media has affected but at the same time has offered benefits for consumers. Social media can connect customers with millions of companies and people at any time; this was not possible ten years ago (Lamberton and Stephen, 2016). Many social media platforms or networking were developed in the 1990s (Edsomwan et al., 2011). Web 2.0 is the concept that defined this era, which is identified by Chaffey (2014. P.24) as ‘‘A collection of web services that facilitate interaction of web users with sites to create user-generated content and encourage behaviours such as community or social network participation, mashups, content rating, use of widgets and tagging’’.

Despite globalisation and the multiple Social Media channels and communications, it has not affected or converging some cognition of consumer behaviour (Goodrich and Mooij, 2013). Besides, Consumer behaviour on the west part of the world will unlikely be the same as the East part of the world. One difference among cultures might be the social media’s functions in the consumer decision-making process. (Goodrich and Mooij, 2013). Consumer engagement behaviour (CEB) goes beyond purchase behaviour because motivational drivers can influence the decision making of a consumer (Chong et al., 2016). Latin American cultures perceive Social media as a method to keep in touch with family and friends, rather than engage with companies (Baird and Parasnis, 2011). Despite that this culture shows more interest on socialises, companies do not understand their consumer behaviour. Thus, companies should consider another approach to this specific segment (Chong et al., 2016). Some companies deploy only one Social Media strategy as predetermined for all markets because companies struggle


to adapt to the high amount of consumer-oriented communication through Social Media (Effing and Spil, 2016). Nevertheless, organisations should acknowledge that there is no global one-size-fits-all approach to social media. Therefore, companies must consider the cultural variations that can be engaged within social media (Canady, 2017).

Colombia is a country where social media has started to play a fundamental role in communication, marketing and purchase decisions. Colombia is ranked number 15 worldwide of the countries with more use of social media, due to its high number of daily active users on social media platforms. More than twenty millions of Colombian consumers are using daily the social media platform Facebook. (Ministry of Tecnology and information (MINTIC), 2014). Also, the rapid growth of this economy is forcing companies to move to digital environments to fully grasp and improve their growth. By 2050 Colombia is predicting to be among the thirty-two most powerful economies worldwide, and digitalisation and e-commerce have significant influences on that (Will, 2017).

1.2 Colombia as a key player

During the last two decades, globalisation process has influenced on the trajectory of local macroeconomic variables. This factor can be mainly seen in the growth of the Latin American economies, which has experienced a considerable synchronisation with the international business cycle (Ballesteros and Rojas, 2015). Colombia is part of emerging markets, where these markets present new challenges but at the same time a high number of opportunities inside the complex context of globalisation and increasing international integration (Birau, 2014). Colombia has become the third most competitive country in Latin America, subsequently; the economy is becoming more competitive, where companies should generate trust among consumers (El Pais, 2015).

Colombian as part of Latin American countries has been creating multiple strategies to produce a better economy in a global environment, such as Andrade and Cadena (2010) stated ‘‘The government concluded that to achieve enduring success, it would have to focus on making specific business sectors more competitive. It has the Productive Transformation Program, launched in 2007, created a unique public–private partnership


engaging eight industry sectors. Early results suggest that tighter collaboration has removed not only investment barriers but also built competitive advantages''.

Subsequently, Colombia has been a country that pursues a fast-growing economy, and it has made dozens of Free trade agreements including with the UK through the EU, America and Switzerland (Chan, 2015)

The Colombian economic has been growing considerably over the past years in comparison with other Latin American countries. Figure 1 shows how was the growth of nine different Latin Americans countries in 2014. Colombian economy stands out from other nations (Chan, 2015)

Figure 1 Author adaptation, Colombian growth stands out in South America Source

On the other hand, the inflation in Colombia has been kept in small rates of increase in comparison to its neighbour country Venezuela (Chan, 2015). The following figure 2 express the inflation rates among Latin American countries.


Figure 2 Authors adaptation, Inflation in Colombia has remained close to 3% target for five years. Source:

This stability and certainty have helped to push Colombia up to 34th place in the World, Bank's "Doing Business" index last year, from 53rd place in 2013 (Chan, 2015).

Recent researchers have studied how the global economy will change in the upcoming years, and how it will shape by 2050. For the future years is expected that the emerging economies develop a higher economic growth. Nevertheless, only four countries from Latin America will stand out inside the projections for robust economics by 2050:

Brazil 5th, Mexico 7th, Argentina 29th and Colombia 31st (Dinero, 2016). Figure 3 express the development of their annual growth rate from 2016 towards 2050, which shows the progress that Colombia will have. Therefore, it is important to study consumer behaviour from an economy that has been growing dramatically and has not even reached its full potential yet.


Figure 3 Author’s adaptation, Annual growth rate Source: adaptation from

Furniture industry in Colombia

On the other hand, the interest of the multinationals companies to enter to the Colombian market has increased during the past years. Furniture business in Colombia is competitive, where the consumption among consumers is over 340 USD millions a year and increasing every year (Dinero, 2013). This industry is also combining with the wholesale and retail model, making the market even more competitive (Superintendence industry and commerce.2012). There are more than 4.781 register companies, which fabricate furniture in Colombia (Magazine MM. 2013). Besides, due to the high competition in this industry; consumers have a wider range of options to choose from (Procolombia, 2012). International furniture’s companies have entered the Colombian market in the past years, companies such as the German KARE, Danish Flexa.

Moreover, the Swedish company IKEA has developed plans to enter the Colombian market (Dinero, 2013; Portafolio, 2016; Rodriguez, 2012). Colombian consumers change or buy new furniture every 4 or 6 years. Subsequently, the purchase process can take longer and perceive in various manners as it is a once every 4 to 6-year purchase (Dinero, 2013).

On the other hand, the furniture industry in Colombia provides the 6.0% of growth in the last term and is expected to keep increasing (El Pais, 2015). The national


administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) has expressed the significant development and growth of this industry. Also, has highlighted the importance of this industry for the Colombian consumers. The high engagement of new international companies entering this market as well. (The national administrative department of statistics (DANE) Departmaneto administrativo nacional de estadisticas, 2016). The following figure shows that the furniture consumption of Colombian consumers in 2010 was over USD 814 million.

Household consumption 2010 on Furniture and Furnishings by country, Area and consumption segment in Local Currency, $PPP, and US$ (Million)

Colombia National Local currency


1,545,427.17 1,153.49 814.00

21,210.36 15.83 11.17

198,690.10 148.30 104.65

730,802.85 545.46 384.92

594,724.07 443.90 313.25

Rural Local currency


95,235.19 71.08 50.16

11,589.68 8.65 6.10

46,425.01 34.65 24.45

30,086.93 22.46 15.85

7,133.56 5.32 3.76 Urban Local currency


1,450,191.98 1,082.41 763.83

9,620.68 7.18 5.07

152,265.09 113.65 80.20

700,715.71 523.01 369.08

587,590.51 438.57 309.49 Table 1 Author's adaptation: Furniture consumption in Colombia. Source: The world bank

Even though the consumption in 2010 was high, also it is important to show that Colombia is the fourth importer of furniture only with 239 USD millions. Therefore, Colombia has a large local supply of furniture.


Table 2 Author's adaptation, Furniture imports 2014 Colombia and Latin America

The furniture consumption in Latin America is phasing stagnation in 2015 and 2016, due to unfavourable market conditions in Brazil and Venezuela. However, among this Latin American market, there are economies that have a promising growth in the next two years Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Peru (Govoni, 2016). Therefore, the coming years are decisive for the furniture industry in Colombia.

1.2.1 Colombian consumer

Colombian culture leans on interpersonal communications, which extends to Word of Mouth (WOM) about products and brands (Goodrich and Mooij, 2013). Besides, this can affect the engagement and purchase decisions for Colombian consumers and companies' sales. Therefore, it is difficult for businesses to engage with customers and have a high rate of purchase and communication through social media since word of mouth (WOM) and interpersonal interactions generate more impact (Goodrich and Mooij, 2013). Previous research has shown that Internet penetration in Colombia has revolutionised the consumer behaviour of Colombians. Besides, 59% of Colombians access to Social media minimum ten times a day (El Tiempo, 2016). Social media has a

‘‘dark side'' in Colombia since those platforms in many cases have been used to steal, murder and mislead users, subsequently; consumers avoid profound and promotional advertising (El tiempo, 2009).

Colombia has one of the highest rates of consumers who do not purchase online. This consumer only tends to purchase online delivery food and alcohol delivery. Besides,


55% of Latin American consumers tend to visit the physical stores before they buy online, this is known as Showrooming (Nielsen, 2016). 61% of the Colombian consumers prefer to buy clothing products online. Moreover, search information, compare prices and get discounts before purchasing any product (Nielsen, 2016).

Colombian consumers are richer than many people might have imagined. According to the World Bank’s methodology, Colombia has been classified as an upper-middle- income country since 2005, due to the growing incomes and the trade liberation. Thus, Colombian consumers have become more receptive to new products, designs and brands. (Chan, 2013). Besides, 45% of Colombian consumers have bought a durable asset through social media or online shopping. However, these consumers prefer to buy in person furniture and decoration, even though these are durable assets. It is because there are the ‘experiences' factor and personal verification. These consumers have different sources that help or influences their decision making such as Websites, physical stores, the website of the brand, social media and vouchers. (Nielsen, 2017).

Webroaming is a trend that is imposing relevance among the Colombian consumers.

This is the act of search information about a product online, then purchasing it in the physical store (Nielsen, 2016). This trend has been noticed when Colombian consumers would like to purchase durable assets such as technology, furniture and others. One of the biggest problems for Colombian consumers when purchasing online is that they do not trust to give their credit card details. Based on a Nielsen study (2016) 69% of the participants expressed a lack of confidence in online shopping. This can be identified as a sceptical consumer when referring to online purchasing.

Colombia is a growing economy; subsequently, the purchasing power has increased over the years making Colombian consumers willing to spend more. This aspect can be reflected as now this economy is placed in the third place among Latin American economies (Dinero, 2016). A growing economy with consumers that have a high purchasing power is attractive for multinational companies in different sectors to enter this market. For example, The Swedish clothing company H&M, one of the biggest fashion retail company has scheduled a big launch with three big stores in Colombia at the beginning of May 2017. Multinational corporations agree that Colombia is a


strategic market for them as well as the big profit that can be done with Colombian consumers (Dinero, 2016; Nielsen, 2016)

1.2.2 Culture

Culture is a term that has such a broad expand. However, Wagner (2016, p.12) brings a wide argument about culture ‘‘Anthropology studies the phenomenon of man, not simply man's mind, his body, evolution, origins, tools, art, or groups alone, but as parts or aspects of a general pattern, or whole. To emphasise this fact and make it a part of their on-going effort, anthropologists have brought a general word into widespread use to stand for the phenomenon, and that word is culture.''

It is known as the crucial understanding of consumer behaviour and is the accumulation of shared meanings, rituals norms and traditions among society. Therefore, any consumption activity must be understood in the cultural context in which it is taking place. Also, a consumer culture can determine the overall priorities that attach to different activities and products (Solomon et al., 2013).

Latin American/Hispanic consumers have a difference; this subculture tend to be deeply family oriented – children have a big value and influence when purchasing a brand. The Older generation in this subculture tends to be high brand loyal and to purchase more with companies that show interest in them as a customer (Kotler and Armstrong, 2016).

This subculture is more active in social media networks than other segments, which make this segment reachable through the digital media medium (Kotler and Armstrong, 2016). The Colombian consumer culture is identified as rational, analytic and conserve.

At the same time, its culture is to get a deep understanding of the options available in the market (Nielsen, 2016)

1.3 Problem discussion

Social media is the major trend in the digital marketing (Chaffey, 2014). It has become a turning point in marketing communication between companies and consumers. The popularity of social media has created a significant task relation with the use of individual behaviours and attitudes (Slazman, 2015). Marketing business strategies have been seen affected by the migration from a print and broadcast world to a digital one


(Social Media). It is hard to overestimate the impact of this transition on the way companies interact with consumers (Mulhern, 2009).

The success of a business depends on consumer's purchasing decisions and the ability of firms to influences, encourage and influence with their consumers in the process of making such decisions (Chong et al., 2016). The marketing landscape is changing;

therefore, companies need to get a better understanding the changing behaviour of their consumers, to provide a better engagement for them in Social media context (Heinonen, 2011). Globalisation of markets and international competition require firms to execute their strategies in a multicultural environment (Luna and Gupta, 2001).

The furniture market is expecting to have a promising growth in Colombia. Previous studies have focused on the market itself rather than the consumers regarding how Colombian consumers perceive and lead them to purchase furniture (Heinonen, 2011).

As mentioned in the background the furniture industry in Colombia is competitive due to a high number of national and international brands. Therefore, companies are driving their resources to engage in an efficient manner with their customer through social media, which is the trending marketing strategy (Chaffey, 2014; Canady, 2017). There has been previous research on consumer behaviour and attitudes but not in the Colombian market and this furniture industry. Moreover, there is not a relevant research on the perception that Colombian consumers have toward Social Media and how these social media platforms can influence consumers’ decision making. Colombia as emerging economy and one of Latin America’s key players on Social media due to a high number of daily active users (Ministry of Technology , infomration and communication, 2012). Subsequently, it is key to generate knowledge about this matter of concern as this economy and these consumers will have a significant role in the world’s economy by 2050.

There is a gap of knowledge in understanding what is the real perception of Colombian consumers when purchasing through social media and the attitude that this consumer has toward purchasing furniture through it. If social media is influencing Colombian consumers to purchase, subsequently, it is important to explore the main factors that influence the final decision making for these consumers. The key is to interrogate if the


influences are based on trust or are based on experiences or other factors. Besides, an understanding of the perception that Colombian consumers have towards purchase furniture products through social media is necessary. In Colombia, the acquisition of furniture is most likely to be addressed to older generation that for several years have purchased furniture, because other generations do not have this need. For example, university students in Colombia usually still live with their parents through all their studies. Therefore, this segment does not feel the need of purchasing furniture in any circumstance. The older generation might be familiar with the existence of social media, but it is unknown how the social media influences their decisions when purchasing new furniture. It is important to investigate how much this older generation is involved with the social media and purchase through it.

Extensive literature is available on the topic social media and consumer behaviour, also multiple success factors for social media engagement as Global. However, the perspective of perception and consumer purchase decision in Colombia is missing. Even though, most of the consumers have knowledge about social media and their content. It is relevant to investigate if the same content that companies and users shared on these social networks influences the Colombian consumers to purchase through the same platforms instead of physical stores. Also, the perception that the consumer could have on social media when buying furniture can be complex because it is a purchase done every 4 to 6 years (Dinero, 2013).

1.4 Research Question

Q1: How do Colombian consumers perceive the purchase of furniture products through social media?

Q2: In which way social media influence Colombian consumer’s attitudes toward purchasing furniture?

1.5 Purpose

The goal of this paper is to identify what is the Colombian consumer’s attitudes and perception toward purchase furniture through social media. Also, recognising how does social media influence Colombian consumer attitudes toward buying furniture. Besides,


this will be accomplished by doing abductive reasoning, looking at different aspects that influence Colombian consumers to purchase furniture products on Social Media. As mention in the background, furniture purchase is made once every 4 to 6 years and only older generation are the segment that is relevant for this study. Therefore, consumer behaviour might vary depending on the circumstance.

1.6 Delimitations

The participants of this study were 40+ years old. Only one respondent was 29 years old, despite her age, when her answers were analysed, it was found that she was more in line with the group of 40+. Therefore, it was suitable with the other participants’

response. This age group of participants were chosen because it is more likely to be involved in the furniture purchase environment. Younger segments would not have suited for this study, as mention in the problem discussion the students tend to live with their parents throughout their student live taking out from them any furniture purchase priority.

1.7 Research design.

Chapter 1 Introduction:

This section includes a background description, which highlights the rationale behind the research topic. Putting relevance on the subject and the segment of this study. Also, it expresses the lack of investigation that has been done on the topic of study. Besides, it highlights the importance of this study.

Chapter 2 Theoretical Framework

This section expresses the relevant theories that were used in this research. This section is composed of the literature as well as previous studies of Social Media, Consumer behaviour, Social cognition theory, Information Research and ABC model. A clear explanation of the model and theories are explained as well as the theoretical framework purpose for this research.

Chapter 3 Methodology:


This section consisted of the applied research methodology and the study's conduction.

The research design for this study is qualitative with abductive reasoning. Moreover, this chapter expresses how the Data collection was done. Also, operationalization that can be followed as an interview guide. The different aspects that were taken into consideration for the findings are included in this chapter.

The methods chosen were the most suitable to understand the collected data and to answer in the most appropriate manner the research question. This research had high standards of ethics to avoid any harm to the participants.

Chapter 4 Empirical findings:

This chapter includes all the findings gather through the data collection for this research. All information collected through the interviews will be expressed in this section by compressing and summarising the interview transcripts. Also, themes and patterns are shown base on the empirical findings to express the results in a more understandable manner.

Chapter 5 Data Analysis:

All the empirical findings are analysed in this section of the research. The theoretical framework is match and analyses along with the different theories use for this research.

Chapter 6 Conclusion:

In this chapter, all the conclusions retrieve from the research are drawn. The key findings and contributions of the study are represented. Also, further research proposals are express. Limitations of the study are presented in the last part of this chapter.


Chapter 2

2 Literature review

In this section is composed of core concepts, theories and models. The theories that are present in this chapter will be implemented for the data analysis and along the research. This theory has been selected due to the characteristics that it provides to bring a strong argumentation for this study. Thus, enriching the validity of this study in multiple areas.

2.1 Social media

Social media is defined by Kaplan and Haenlein, (2010, P.61) as ‘‘a group of Internet- based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content''. Effing and Spil (2016) define these two concepts into their words as ‘‘a goal-directed planning process for creating user-generated content, driven by a group Internet applications, to create a unique and valuable competitive position'' (p.2).

The 21st century is going through an extensive grow of Internet-based messages transmitted through Social Media. It has been becoming one of the major factors in influencing multiple aspects of consumer behaviour including purchase behaviour (Mangold and Faulds, 2009: p.358). Social media at the same time can be seen a hybrid element of the promotion mix, such as Mangold and Faulds (2009, p.358) suggest ‘‘it combines characteristics of traditional integrated marketing communications tools (companies talking to customers) with a highly magnified form of word-of-mouth (customers talking to one another) … Social media is also a mixed technology and media origins that enable instantaneous, real-time communication, and utilises multi- media formats (audio and visual presentations) and numerous delivery platforms (Facebook, Youtube), with global reach capabilities''. Social media audience has been growing from teenagers to the member of different generations including generation x and people of 35-44 years old and beyond (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010).

It is important to understand the difference between Social media marketing and Social media. Chaffey (2014, p.7) suggest ‘‘Social Media Marketing: Monitoring and facilitating customer-customer interaction and participation throughout the web to


encourage positive engagement with a company and its brands. The interaction may occur on a company site, social networks and other third-party sites. Besides Social Media, is a category of media focusing on participation and peer-to-peer communication between individuals, with sites providing the capability to develop user-generated content (UGC)''. Thus, companies acquire the information that users generate, to analyse it. Afterwards, companies deliver an appealing content to those specific customers.

Social media has created a new competitive environment for companies when doing their marketing. Besides, individuals as customers have adopted this social media environment fast and efficient, subsequently are expecting to find businesses in the same social media environment (Effing and Spil, 2015). Nevertheless, some organisations have some issues to implement social media effectively, due to lack of Social Media strategies. (Effing and Spil, 2015)

2.1.1 Social Media Networks

Some key social media networks are introduced, which often referred to social networking sites, subsequently, are frequently associated with social media marketing as well (Scott, 2013; Chaffey, 2014). Also, it includes social network websites, consumer emails, forums supporting rating of products, online discussions and chat rooms operated by business (Mangold and Faulds, 2009). The relevance of each social network depends on the purpose that wants to achieve because each social media network differs in history, culture and functionality from one another (Schaffer, 2013).

2.2 From traditional marketing to Social Media Marketing

Social media has made a shift in the way marketing was done and the use of its content (Schaffer, 2013). In today's environment, social media is commonly utilised by a user to communicate and search for information, which is, relate to their personal interest (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). Moreover, Social media and digital evolution have adjusted the way business strategies are made (Chaffey, 2014). For this reason, companies should address the social media discussion into their advantage and influences the communication between consumers towards purchase decisions


(Pookulangara and Koesler, 2011). Social media enables companies to talk to their consumers and enables consumers to talk one another. Besides, social media enables consumers to talk directly to companies, which was not possible when marketing was meant to be one-way communication ‘‘push’’ (Mangold and Faulds, 2009).

Figure 6 summarizes the evolution of digital and web-related technologies. It is important to establish that terms Web 2.0,3.0 and 4.0 are not terms commonly used today. However, as mention in before Web 2.0 is the time where social media emerge in a mass scale.

Figure 4 Evolution of web technologies. Source: adapted from Spivack (2009)

Traditional media did not have the same power of reaching mass communication like social media today. Also, the traditional communications elements such as frequency, timing, and medium of communications are dictated by the organisation in collaboration with its paid agents (advertising agencies), when the information was beyond the companies control the return of the data would take longer (Mangold and Faulds, 2009).

Besides, social media have multiple benefits; one benefit is to be able as a company to target precisely an individual or target group, based on the preferences that they establish on their social networks (Scott, 2013). Social media make easier to target specific niches and deliver the right information that will supply their needs (Scott, 2013).


Table 3 express some of the differences between Social media and traditional media, based on the statements of (Hausman, 2012; Mangold and Faulds, 2009; Rampat, 2016)

Social media Traditional Media

Two-way conversation One-way conversation

Real time creation Pre-produced/scheduled

Deep analytics Poor analytics

Paid, Owned, Earned Paid

Inbound marketing Push marketing

Table 3 Autthor’s adaptation, Comparison between Social Media and Traditional Media

Companies can benefit from Social media due to the high measurable results compared with the traditional media (Chaffey, 2014). Besides, consumers can benefit from having a closer relationship with companies and can maintain a dialogue between them (Chaffey, 2014). Social media give an enormous extent of opportunities for businesses to extend customer engagement and get people talking about a brand (Kotler and Armstrong, 2016).

2.3 Consumer purchase intentions/online environment

Online consumer behaviour has been a point of interest of multiple authors and in several cases, has been linked with consumer purchase intention in an online environment (Ahuja, Gupta and Raman, 2003; Kotler and Armstrong, 2014).

Multiple factors are related to purchasing ‘‘online’’ as the web as a retail medium slowly matures; thus, online consumer behaviour has become more sophisticated (O'keefe et al., 2000). Consumer behaviour in online and ‘off-line' are different and are place in various environments (Van der Heijden, Verhagen and Creemers, 2003). Online consumers must interact with technology to purchase goods and services needed. The


physical place environment is replaced with the electronic shopping environment.

Besides, a level of trust is required in an online (Social Media) environment. Therefore, trust is an essential factor for those consumers that purchase through online (Van der Heijden, Verhagen and Creemers, 2003). Trust is in a doubt state and arises when the shop/brand is unknown, the quality of the product is unknown. Therefore, the performances of the products might be unknown as well (Van der Heijden, Verhagen and Creemers, 2003).

Generically, the consumer's purchase decision will be to buy the most preferred brand.

However, two factors can influence and come between the purchase intention and the purchase decision (Kotler and Armstrong, 2016)

1. Attitudes of others: If a close person suggests something to the consumer then the probabilities are higher that the consumer will buy what was advised (Kotler and Armstrong, 2016).

2. Unexpected situational factors: Consumers may form a purchase intention based on factors of expectations such as expected price, expected prices and expected product benefits. However, unexpected circumstances can change the purchase decision. Therefore, purchase intentions not always result in actual purchase choice (Kotler and Armstrong, 2016).

Kotler and Armstrong (2014, p.154), Figure 7 describes the different stages of the decision-making process of customers. It consists of five different stages. First, is where consumers have a need for recognition. Second, the consumer pursues an information research based on their needs and desire. Third, after gathering much information, perhaps multiple products, the consumer evaluates the various alternatives getting closer to a purchase decision. Fourth, the customer makes a purchase decision, which might or might not affect by unexpected situational factors as mention before. The last stage, the consumer, can act on post-purchase decisions.


Figure 5 Author’s Adaptation; buyer decision process (Kotler & Armstrong,2014, p.154)

2.4 Consumer behaviour

Consumer purchases are influenced strongly by cultural, social, personal, and psychological characteristics (Kotler and Armstrong, 2016: p.167). Culture and subculture are defined by Kotler and Armstrong (2016, p.168) ‘‘Culture: the set of basic values, perceptions, wants, and behaviours learned by a member of society from family and other important institutions … Subcultures: A group of people with shared value systems based on common life experiences and situations''. Despite Social Media and Internet, some cultures have not modified their consumer behaviour and attitudes.

Among multiple cultures, there is the need for engagement and interaction directly with vendors and find knowledge through people instead of the Internet (Goodrich and Mooij, 2013).

2.5 Social cognition theory in mass communication

Such as Bandura (2001: P,1) states ‘‘Social cognition theory provides an agentic conceptual framework within which to analyse the determinants and psychosocial mechanisms through which symbolic communication influences human thought, affect and action’’. Also, the environment in which people is living today interact with communications systems, which operate through two pathways. In the direct pathway, promote modifications by informing, enabling, motivating, and guiding participants (Bandura, 2001; Bussey and Bandura, 1999). On the other hand, the socially mediated pathway, media influences linked participants to social networks and community settings that provide natural incentives and continued personalised guidance, for desired change (Luszczynska and Schwarzer, 2005; Bandura, 2001). Besides, Bandura (2001:

P,1) suggest ‘‘Social cognitive theory analyses social diffusion of new styles of

Need recogni@on Informa@on reserach (social Media)

Evalua@on of

alterna@ves Purchase

decision Postpurchase behaviour


behaviour concerning the psychosocial factors governing their acquisition and adoption and the social networks through which they spread and are supported. Structural interconnectedness provides potential diffusion paths; sociocognitive factors largely determine what diffuses through those paths''. This theory has another distinctive attribute, which is the capability for observational learning that enables people to expand their knowledge and skills in a short period by modelling influences without having to go through the whole process of learning this by a response of consequences (Bussey and Bandura, 1999).

Social cognitive theory is based on an agentic perspective (Bandura, 1986). People have multiple characteristics in this aspect, self-organizing, proactive, self-reflecting and self-regulating, and are not just reacting organism shaped by environmental events or inner forces. However, human self-development, adaptation and change are embedded in social systems. Therefore, personal cognitions can be influences in a broad network of sociostructural influence (Bandura, 2001).

Symbolizing capability

Social cognitive theory point to the main point of cognitive, vicarious, self-regulatory and self-reflective processes (Bandura, 1986). Humans have with them a powerful tool for comprehending the environment and creating and regulating environmental events that touch virtually all the different aspects of their life. This capacity is known as symbolization (Bandura, 2001). Luszczynska and Schwarzer (2005) argue that most external influences affect behaviour through cognitive processes rather than directly, also cognitive factors in some measure determine which environmental events will be observed, the meaning, the influences, emotional impact, the motivation power and how this information will be transmitted and use in the future. Through symbols, people can give meaning, form and continuity to their experiences (Bandura, 2001).

Vicarious capability

Vicarious learning is another distinctive human quality, which is considered an integral part and has good emphasis in social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986). Psychological theories have traditionally emphasised the learning through the effects of one's actions.

However, if knowledge and skills could be gain only by direct experience, all that is


known as cognitive and social development process, could be retarded (Bandura, 1986).

Humans have developed further their capacity for observational learning that enables the human to gain more knowledge and improve their skills rapidly through a different variety of information models (Bandura, 2001). It is argued that all behavioural, cognitive and affective learning from direct experience can be achieved by observing people's actions and its consequences from them (Bandura, 2001: P.271). Most of the social learning that humans earn is either designedly or unintentionally in an immediate environment. Nevertheless, there is an enormous amount of information about human values, styles of thinking, and behaviour patterns, which is transmitted from the extensive modelling in the symbolic environment of the mass media, also through social media. (Bandura, 2001).

2.6 Attitudes

Attitudes are widely used in different scenarios. Also, attitudes are a lasting general evaluation of people, objects advertisements or issues. Therefore, anything towards which one has an attitude is called an attitude object (Solomon et al., 2006). Attitudes exist because they serve a function of a person. Thus, this is determined by a person's motives. Also, consumers who expect that they will need to handle similar information in the future time will be more likely to start forming attitudes in advance of the event (Solomon et al., 2006: P.293). General classification categorises attitude functions as utilitarian, value-expressive, ego-defensive and knowledge.

• Utilitarian functions: Related to the core principles of reward and punishment

• Value-expressive: Attitudes that perform a value-expressive function express the consumer’s central values or self-concept.

• Ego-defensive: Attitudes that are formed to protect the person, from either external threats or internal feelings, perform an ego-defensive function.

• Knowledge: Some attitudes are formed as the result of a need for order, structure or meaning.

In different cases, an attitude can serve more than one function. However, various cases a one will be dominant (Grewal, Mehta and Kardes, 2000). Hence, by identifying the


dominant function a product serve for consumers, companies and marketers can highlight this benefits in their communication (Solomon et al., 2006).

2.7 ABC model for attitudes

Such as Kotler and Armstrong (2016, p.181) suggest ‘‘through doing and learning, people acquire beliefs and attitudes. These, in turn, influence their buying behaviour’’.

Besides, Solomon et al. (2006, p.139) state ‘‘attitudes exist because they serve a function for the person. That is, they are determined by a person's motives. Consumers who expect that they will need to deal with similar information at a future time will be more likely to start forming attitudes in anticipation of this event.''

Researchers agree that attitudes are composed of three elements:

• Affect: Refers to the way consumers feel about an attitude object (Solomon et al., 2006) Relates to the emotional connection the consumer has with the target object about which the attitude is formed. (Szmigin and Piacetini, 2015)

• Behaviour: Involves the person’s intention to do something with regards to and attitude object (Solomon et al., 2006)

• Cognition: Refers to the beliefs a consumer has about an attitude object.

(Solomon et al., 2006)

• Attitude: An individual positive or negative feelings (Chin-Lung and Chuan- Chuan Lin, 2016)

This theory emphasises on the interrelationships that exist between knowing, doing and feeling. It is hard to state or determinate consumer's attitude towards a product based only on their beliefs (Solomon et al., 2006). Attitudes can be formed in multiple perspectives, thus can have an impact on consumer behaviour and Attitudes directly influence decision making (Wu, 2003). Personal experiences can form the attitudes, rewards that have been achieved or will be obtained, as well as from information, friends, salespeople and news media. Also, these attitudes are both direct and indirect experience in life (Solomon et al., 2006; Wu, 2003). Attitudes serve as the bridge between consumers' background characteristics and the consumption that satisfies their needs. (Wu, 2003).


Influence is a fundamental element in attitudes, and this is the reaction or feeling that each consumer has towards a product and is based on the opinion of each. Because consumers can have a positive or negative attitude towards a product (Solomon et al., 2006). Shavitt (1989) argue that to have a clear understanding of consumer behaviour is relevant to understand which are the functions of attitudes. Having a defined insight of an individual's attitude increment the likelihood those researchers can understand the consumer intended and actual behaviour (Shavitt, 1989). Besides, attitudes are difficult to change, if the consumer already has a set pattern, which will make difficult for companies to change that pattern (Kotler and Armstrong, 2016).

The concept of attitude has been used in several consumer studies, as an integral element is most consumer models. However, there is a relevant definition of attitude that Fishbein and Ajzen (1975, P.6) suggest ‘‘a learned predisposition to respond in a consistently favourable or unfavourable manner concerning a given object''. Based on this definition it is relevant to observe that exist and emphasis on the affective dimension of attitude. It also suggests that attitude influences behaviour.


Figure 6 ABC Model

2.8 Information search by consumer for products

Every consumer that recognised a need will seek for information about it. That is called Information Research such as Solomon et al. (2013.p.342) suggest ‘‘is the process by which the consumer surveys their environment for appropriate data to make a reasonable decision’’.

There are different types of information search, pre-purchase search where a consumer identifies a need and tend to search the marketplace for specific information depending on its needs. On the other hand, on-going search, where many consumers browse without an identity need or just to gather information that would give them the latest


information about the marketplace (Solomon et al., 2013). Table 4 describe the two search modes of consumers.

Pre-purchase search On-going research Determinants Involvement in the purchase.

Market environment.

Situational factors.

Involvement with the product.

Market environment.

Situational factors.

Motives Making better purchase decisions. Building a bank of information for future use.

Experiencing fun and pleasure.

Outcomes Increased product and market knowledge.

Better purchase decisions.

Increased satisfaction with the purchase outcome.

Increased product and market knowledge, leading to

–future buying efficiencies.

–personal influences.

Increased impulse buying.

Increased satisfaction from search and other outcomes.

Table 4 Adaptation Consumer information search framework. Solomon et al., 2013

Pookulangara and Koesler (2011: P.348) suggest ‘‘consumer is increasingly turning to social networks to get information on which to base their decisions … They are using several online formats of share ideas about a given product, services, or brand and contact other consumers, who are seen as more objective information sources’’.

2.8.1 Internal Vs. External search

Information is divided into two kinds: External and internal. The consumer has a degree of knowledge about a variety of products in their memory, this due to previous experiences (Close, 2012). When consumers are confronted with a purchase decision, it is common to engage in internal search as Solomon et al. (2013.P.343) state ‘‘by scanning our memory bank to assemble information about different product alternative''.

Besides, the most market-aware consumer needs to add on their knowledge and information with external search, which is obtained from advertisements, friends and other sources (Solomon et al., 2013). The consumer is increasingly engaging in


extensive information searches not only for essential items. Also, is has been found that 92% of consumers no longer trust the information they receive from traditional sources such as television and are increasingly adapting to online sources, such as blogs, social media and review sites (Close, 2012).

2.8.2 Deliberate vs. ‘accidental' search

The knowledge of a product can be a result of directed learning: Which can be set on a previous occasion, where a consumer has already searched for relevant information or experiences some alternatives (Close, 2012; Kotler and Armstrong, 2016). Such as, when people perceive that someone else has bought a specific item, this could turn into direct learning.

On the other hand, a consumer can acquire information in a passive manner. Even some products or information might not be the consumer's interest at the given time. The exposure to the different advertisement, packaging, sales promotion and viral marketing activities can result in incidental learning (Solomon et al., 2013). The consumer’s state of knowledge is not sufficient to make an adequate decision, therefore, the need of search information in relevant. There are several sources such as impersonal and marketer-dominated sources. However, such as Solomon et al. (2013.P, 35) state ‘‘not surprisingly, social media platforms now play a major role in the search process.''

2.8.3 Consumer’s prior expertise

There are different considerations for an optimal search in a market where information is available for consumers. Information search process tends to be sequential starting from cost and attribute of the brand or product. (Moorthy, Ratchford and Talukdar, 23).

There are two types of consumer’s experts and novices. These types have different knowledge on the product that is intended to purchase. It is assumed that novice will search more information than experts. However, previous studies have shown that

‘‘search tends to be greatest among those consumers who are moderately knowledge about the product’’ (Solomon et al., 2013: P.350).


2.9 Conceptual framework

ABC model, information search and social cognition theory were extracted from the literature review. These theories and concepts developed the following framework to conceptualise the consumer attitude toward social media and purchase intention of furniture. This study will gather information using the ABC model, information search and social cognition theory. The aim is to identify the attitude toward social media and if Colombian consumers rely on social media and to see the influences that social media have on them. Also, the purpose of this framework is to give a ¨route¨ of what is the Colombian consumer perception toward social media when purchasing furniture. What is the attitude before talking about social media that consumers express, and in which manner the initial perception and attitude are influenced by social media. The result will show either consumer have a positive perception and attitude of social media or not, at the same time if this influences their purchase attitudes.

On the other hand, this framework for consumer attitude is affected by the consumer ABC and directly affects the perception of social media. According to this framework, the three parts (Affect, Behaviour and Cognition) influence upon the consumer’s attitude toward social media and purchase furniture through the same. These three aspects have a significant relationship with the attitude toward social media and purchase intentions for furniture. These three aspects of ABC model relate to the information search and the social cognition. Thus, giving a more argument able parameters for this study.

The conceptual framework expresses the ¨route¨ of the consumer toward the perception of social media and purchase furniture. It represents at the top the ABC model, information research, social cognition theory with its result, which is the attitude. Then attitude is divided in two ways; toward social media and Non-social media sources.

Social media is where the consumer has some degree of interaction with it and examine if the consumer has got a previous experience and attitudes with it. Hence the primary objective is to discover first the consumer's perception of purchasing furniture through social media. Second, how social media influence in any way the consumer attitudes of a purchase decision. Besides, from the first attitude, it can be acknowledged either the consumers rely on or not on social media, and prefer to trust non-social media sources,


which can drive consumers purchase intentions. On the other side, Non-social media sources will identify the perspective and attitudes of the consumers in these parameters.

This non-social media source could contain experience on social media, which might lead to influences to purchase on social media as well.

Figure 7 conceptual frameworks - ABC consumer attitude toward social media





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