Social Influence on Online Purchasing Behavior: The case of deal sites

Manasak Bantalapichai

Student thesis: Master thesis


The marketing concept of selling coupons at deal sites has become increasingly popular on the Danish market the last years; which could probably be explained by the selling tagline of the concept of 50% discount or more on the offered deals. For this paper, I was however interested in another factor that is perhaps not as obvious as the mentioned construct, which is social influence on consumer behavior. Especially two aspects of it have been commonly studied by scholars: normative (influence related to social expectations of others) and informational influence (influence related to accepting information from others). These effects on online purchasing were examined by looking at the various decision-making processes that are behind a purchase on the deal site, which I suggested in this case to be originating from predefined shopping motives. According to this structure, the shopping motives would lead browsers to search for information and evaluate upon this, before resulting in a potential purchase. By dividing a purchase to the various motives and stages of decisions, it is then easier to understand how social influence occurs, why it occurs and what consequences it will have on the individual purchaser. The examinations took place by conducting a research process of screening and interviewing voluntary participants, which in this case were students from 20-30 years old in Copenhagen area. To some surprise, I found social influence to have an impact in all cases of shopping motives on the deal sites in some form or other. In cases where people were buying after a recommendation or for specific occasions and gift (planned experiential), the high level of social influence was not unexpected. However, the results of social influence having a substantial impact on the goal-directed and experiential shopping motive were more surprising, due to the fact that the consumer is initially not put under social expectations in these motives. I believe the findings of significant social influence above are largely explained by several factors of deal purchasing: the products and services sold are most often defined as experience goods, which typically highlights the consumption experience and its intangible assets, than the tangible products. Moreover, this consumption is usually shared with others than consumed alone, thus also being affected by social forces from other participants. Finally, I discussed that the degree of social influence on the individual are likely to be impacted by how the deal sites are able to promote their products and services to being an appealing experience or a ‘concept’ for those shared social occasions, and also being trustworthy in doing so. These findings, perspectives, future research recommendations and other remarkable observations are further discussed in this paper.

EducationsCand.merc.smc Strategic Market Creation, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages126