Influence of social media marketing communications on young consumers? attitudes

23 Aug 2017

Purpose ? This paper aims to examine the influence of interactive social media marketing communications on teenagers? cognitive, affective and behavioral attitude components in South Africa. The study also considers the impact of a number of additional factors such as usage (access, length of usage, log-on frequency, log-on duration and profile update incidence) and demographic (gender, age and population group) variables on young consumers? attitudes toward social media marketing communications. Design/methodology/approach ? A survey was used via three self-administered questionnaires, which were distributed to over 13,000 learners in the age range of 13-18 years (Generation Z cohort) at colleges and high schools in South Africa. A generalized linear model was used for statistical data analysis. Findings ? The study ascertained that social media marketing communications had a positive on each attitude component among adolescents, but on a declining scale, which correlates to the purchase funnel. The results also revealed that teenagers who used social media for long time periods; updated their profiles frequently and were from the Colored and Black population groups, displayed the most favorable attitudinal responses to social media marketing communications. Research limitations/implications ? Social media was collectively analyzed and did not consider the number of different social media types, which could be examined individually. This investigation only considered the Generation Z cohort, but other cohorts to attitudes toward social media marketing communications could also be assessed. Practical implications ? Companies and their brands should consider using and/or adapting their strategies based on the declining impact of social media marketing communications on the hierarchical attitude stages among young consumers and the divergent influence on usage and demographic variables when targeting the lucrative and technologically advanced, but capricious, Generation Z consumers. Originality/value ? This research established that social media marketing communications had a favorable influence on cognitive, affective and behavioral attitude components among young consumers, but on a declining scale, which is in congruence with the purchase funnel model. This investigation also makes an important contribution to attitudinal research in developing countries, where there is a lack of research in social media marketing communications. Keywords South Africa, Attitudes, Generation Z, Social media marketing communications