The Influence of YouTuber’s on the Buying Decision Process Among Consumers in the Beauty Industry

1: Introduction & Justification

The overall aim of this research is to explore the influence that YouTuber’s may have on their viewers’ buying behaviour, what their decision-making process is and what factors influence their buying behaviour with a focus on the beauty industry. Viewers’ buying behaviour influenced by YouTuber’s can be examined by understanding influencer marketing, psychological buying behaviour and purchase decisions.

YouTubers have achieved a status as one of the biggest influencers in social media with a wide, loyal audience supporting them. Celebrity endorsement has been around for years, however, with the rise in YouTubers’ fame, it has provided brands with a marketing tool to connect with consumers (Lee and Watkins, 2016).  Virtual communities are increasingly becoming important sources of consumer knowledge that influences consumer behaviour (De Valck, Van Bruggen, & Wierenga, 2009).

 

2. Critical Literature Review

Social Media and Influencer Marketing

Charlesworth (2018) defines social media as ‘an umbrella term for the various social network and community sites which are composed of user-generated content’. A key component of social media is that it allows consumers to make recommendations to contacts, or friends through the use of their social media platforms. It is also giving companies a valuable tool in which a satisfied user of a particular product could recommend that product to other potential consumers (Forbes, 2013). Through the use of social media, consumers can instantly access opinions from a wide network of people from almost anywhere in the world; the social channels work as a form of word-of-mouth advertising. In fact, it could be said that social media sites are influencing consumer purchases much more than conventional advertising. Consumers tend to turn to social media to seek information about a product or brand, to get recommendations about a potential purchase, to interact with a brand and to receive discounts (Rath et al, 2016). It is argued that the use of social media has affected the consumer decision-making process which has ultimately led to companies becoming more consumer focused rather than product focused (Moriuchi, 2015).

Brown and Hayes (2008) define an influencer as ‘A third-party who significantly shapes the customer’s purchasing decision, but may never be accountable for it’. Influencers of some sort have been around for years. In a marketing context, these individuals have a significant impact on buying decisions of people who seek advice or recommendations regarding particular products or brands (Charlesworth, 2018). Influencers have the power to affect purchase decisions of consumers due to their authority, knowledge, or relationship. Influencer marketing is essentially word of mouth. Consumers are much more likely to react positively to recommendations and thoughts that comes from a friend or persona over a sponsored post that comes from a company. This is partly due to the fact that they have more credibility and relevance to consumers than ‘marketer-generated’ information. They also seem to be able to create empathy with their ‘followers’ (Bickart and Schindler, 2001).

YouTuber’s as Influencers

After Google purchased YouTube back in 2006, the social media platform became an ad-friendly environment, whereas before it was defined as being amateur with no advertisement. Due to the popularity of the platform, companies have become more interested in monetizing the content. This interest has given channels that began originally as a hobby to be turned into a source of income (Kim, 2012). Consumers have been increasingly sharing their knowledge, experiences and opinions with others through videos, blogs and pictures. What distinguishes YouTubers from other ‘traditional’ celebrities, is the creation of an enjoyable, authentic, personable environment. Viewers tend to find watching a YouTuber more relatable due to the lack of scripts and professional lighting. It feels like they are listening to a friend talk, as many YouTuber’s adopt a casual approach by filming in their bedrooms, or at their desk. YouTube creators listen to and interact with their fans, resulting in communities that seem more like friendships than ‘fanships’ (O’Neil-Hart and Blumenstein, 2018).

The Buyer Decision Making Process

Solomon (2016) defines consumer behaviour as a process of choosing, purchasing and consuming goods and services to satisfy consumer needs. One form of consumer behaviour is the Buyer Decision Process. The emergence of social media has sparked a change in consumer behaviour, particularly the buyer decision making process. (Wang, Yu and Wei, 2012). Consumers make purchase decisions nearly every day, however, not all decisions are the same. Some decisions are complex and involve risk in which consumers need to collect and review information before making a purchase, whereas other decisions are fairly routine and are made almost automatically (Solomon and Bamossy, 2016). As figure [1.0] shows, the Buyer Decision Process consists of five stages in which consumers go through when making a purchase; Problem/Need Recognition, Information Search, Evaluation of Alternatives, Purchase Decision and Post-Purchase Decision.

[figure 1.0]                                                        (Kotler and Armstrong, 2015)

Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework draws on the Buying Decision Process as well as the characteristics which affect consumer purchase behaviour. Kotler and Armstrong (2015) explain that purchases are influenced strongly by cultural, social, personal and psychological characteristics, which is shown in the below model.

[figure 2.0]                                                         (Kotler and Armstrong, 2015)

Consumer buying decisions reflect the consumers lifestyle and are affected by a complex combination of both external and internal influences.

3: Research Questions-Objectives

This study aims to:

  1. Understand whether YouTuber’s influencer viewers’ buying behaviour?
  2. Explore what the buying decision process is for viewers?
  3. Explore what the external characteristics influencing viewers’ buying behaviour are?

4: Research Design

Research Approach

Hennink et al (2010) explains that ‘the purpose of qualitative research is to understand or explain behaviour and beliefs, identify processes and understand the context of people’s experiences’. The qualitative approach aims to develop an understanding, in this case, an understanding of buying behaviour, the buying decision process and other characteristics which influence them. Therefore, a qualitative research approach will be used in this study to successfully answer the research questions.

Research Method

Saunders et al (2015) defines three different types of interviews; Structured, Semi-Structured and Unstructured. Semi-structured interviews will involve having a list of themes to explore, with some key questions, allowing room for some open discussions to gain as much detailed and in-depth information as possible. This type of interview also allows room for movement, the order of the questions may vary and additional questions may be asked, depending on the flow of conversation between the interviewer and respondent (Saunders et al. 2015). By allowing the participant to also direct the flow of conversation, it will provide the interviewer with a genuine reflection of the factors that influence their purchase behaviour, therefore avoiding interviewer bias as much as possible, and ultimately answering the research questions. By using this research method, the results from this study will not be used to make a generalisation about the entire population (Butler-Kisber, 2010), but instead gain a rich, in-depth understanding from the participants about their purchase behaviour.

Sampling Framework

The non-probability purposive sampling method involves deliberately selecting participants who will help to answer the research questions and meet the objectives (Saunders et al. 2015). In this case, it is essential that the participants have previously watched videos on YouTube, or used YouTube within their buying decision process. Therefore, in this study the purposive sampling method will be adopted to best meet the research objectives. Omnicoreagency.com (2018) found that female YouTube users primarily watch beauty videos. For this reason the focus of the sample will be on female consumers.

Research Analysis

There are a number of methods which can be used in order to analyse qualitative data. In this study a thematic analysis approach will be used. This involves coding the data and identifying any key themes, relationships or patterns that appeared throughout the series of interviews (Saunders et al. 2015). This analytical method will allow the themes that arise from all the interviews, to be explored in as much detail as possible. The interviews will be transcribed the day after taking place to ensure that no vital information is missed out.

5: Conclusions

In conclusion, this study will help to understand how YouTuber’s have an impact on consumers’ buying decision process. It will also explore any other characteristics which affect consumer purchase behaviour. As seen from the literature review it is clear that social media and ‘influencers’ have affected consumer behaviour and the buying decision process, however this study will primarily focus on a particular social media platform and its impact.

In relations to the research questions, a qualitative research approach of conducting between 6-8 semi-structured interviews will be done to collect the data. A possible limitation of this study could be the size of this sample. However, due to the time restriction of the project, and to ensure all the collected data is analysed effectively, this is the maximum number that can be conducted without affecting the depth of analysis.

6: References

Academic RefeRences:

 Bickart, B. and Schindler, R. (2001). Internet forums as influential sources of consumer information. Journal of Interactive Marketing. 15(3), p.31

Brown, D. and Hayes, N. (2008).Influencer Marketing.

Butler-Kisber, L. (2010). Qualitative Inquiry.

Charlesworth, A. (2013). Digital Marketing. 3rd ed.

de Valck, K., van Bruggen, G. and Wierenga, B. (2009). Virtual communities a marketing perspective. Decision support systems. 47(3), p.185-203

Forbes, L. (2013). Does social media influence consumer buying behaviour. An investigation of recommendations and purchases. Journal of Business and Economics Research. 11(2) 107

Hennink, M. Hutter, I. and Bailey, A. (2010). Qualitative Research Methods.

Kotler, P. and Armstrong, G. (2015). Principles of Marketing. 16th ed.

Kim, J. (2012). The institutionalisation of YouTube: From user-generated content to professionally generated content. Media, Culture & Society. 34(1), p53-67

Lee, J. and Watkins, B. (2016). YouTube vloggers’ influence on consumer luxury brand perceptions and intentions. Journal of Business Research, 69(12), p.5753-5760

Mouriuchi, E. (2015). Social Media Marketing: Strategies in Utilising Consumer-Generated Content.

Rath, P., Bay, S., Petrizzi, R. and Gill, P. (2016). The Why of the Buy: Consumer Behaviour in Fashion Marketing. 2nd ed.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2015). Research Methods for Business Students.

Solomon, M. and Bamossy, G. (2016). Consumer Behaviour. 6th ed.

Wang, X., Yu, C. and Wei, Y. (2012) Social Media Peer Communication and Impacts on Purchase Intentions: A consumer Socialization Framework. Journal of Interactive Marketing. 26(4), p198-208

Supporting References:

Omnicoreagency.com. (2018). YouTube by the Numbers (2018): Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts. [online] Available at: https://www.omnicoreagency.com/youtube-statistics/ [Accessed 12 Nov. 2018].

O’Neil-Hart, C. and Blumenstein, H. (2018). Why YouTube Stars Are More Influential than Traditional Celebrities. [online] Think with Google. Available at: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/youtube-stars-influence/ [Accessed 10 Nov. 2018].

 

7: Appendices

  • Additional models, diagrams for example
  • Gantt chart-project time scale

 

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