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Influence of parents, peers, internet product search and visual social media on college students' purchase behavior: A mixed methods study

Jennifer Elizabeth Johnson Jorgensen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Visually-oriented online social networking websites (VSNS) have become frontrunners in the race for popularity among all other online social networks. Pinterest, Instagram, Wanelo, and Snapchat have allowed for consumers to share their everyday lives, as well as the products that define their personal cultures. Products that require less financial and social risk tend to not only be influenced by online social networking websites, but also by peers (Kim & Sung, 2008). Products that require more financial and social risk tend to be influenced by family members and the amount of Internet product search behavior (Drozdenko, Jensen, & Coelho, 2012). Little research has been conducted on the influences of VSNS, as well as its relationship to family communication, peer communication, and Internet product search behaviors. The Consumer Socialization Theory was used as a theoretical framework to guide the quantitative phase of this study. Socialization agents, or influences on attitude and purchase intention of a product, include peers, family members, VSNS, and Internet product searches. Each of these influences were found to determine the attitude and purchase intention of a product. This mixed methods study consisted of an explanatory sequential research design. Quantitative data was collected through 236 responses to an online survey for undergraduate college students. Based on the results of the quantitative phase, interview questions were created for 10 face-to-face interviews to modify the Consumer Socialization Theory. This study addresses which influences young adults use, as well as how and why young adults use the influences of family members, peers, VSNS, and Internet product searches when purchasing products. Quantitative results indicate that participants are influenced by each socialization agent when searching for information about products. Thus, individuals sought information from family members, peers, information found online, and VSNS before purchasing a product. Qualitative results revealed that participants turn to VSNS and peers when searching for ideas of products to purchase, whereas they turn to family members and Internet product searches for products that they intend to purchase. The results and findings of this study demonstrate that the participants' lifestyles have led them to be more informed consumers.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology

Recommended Citation

Johnson Jorgensen, Jennifer Elizabeth, "Influence of parents, peers, internet product search and visual social media on college students' purchase behavior: A mixed methods study" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3689631.