Purchase intention in social commerce. An empirical examination of perceived value and social awareness

Date19 November 2018
Published date19 November 2018
AuthorChia-Chen Chen,Kuo-Lun Hsiao,Shan-Jung Wu
Subject MatterLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library technology,Information behaviour & retrieval,Information user studies,Metadata,Information & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
Purchase intention in
social commerce
An empirical examination of perceived value
and social awareness
Chia-Chen Chen
Department of Management Information Systems,
National Chung Hsing University, Taichung City, Taiwan
Kuo-Lun Hsiao
Department of Information Management,
National Taichung University of Science and Technology, Taichung City, Taiwan, and
Shan-Jung Wu
Department of Management Information Systems,
National Chung Hsing University, Taichung City, Taiwan
Purpose With the advent of the digital era, the internet has gradually become an essentialfactor in peoples
lives. Its increasing popularity has also caused e-commerce to thrive, and has increased the power of online
marketing. In recent years, social commerce has emerged as a new mode of operation which can be
distinguished from traditional e-commerce. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
Design/methodology/approach The main purpose of this study is to determine which factors influence a
consumers behavioral intention in the context of social commerce websites, and to explore overall purchase
intentions based on the consumers cognitive evaluation. The examination reveals that consumers
multidimensional perceptions influence both their perceptions of value and their purchase intentions. Other
related social awareness factors explored by this study are also shown to influence customerspurchase intentions.
Findings In summary, the results show that perceived value and social awareness factors influence
customerspurchasing decisions and behavioral intentions for different gender. These findings have
significant theoretical and managerial implications.
Originality/value Social commerce is a subset of e-commerce brought about by the development
of social networking. Activities conducted on social networking websites can be considered as a form of
social commerce. In Taiwan, social commerce is still in the early stages of development.
Keywords E-commerce, Purchase intention, Social commerce, Socialawareness, Social networking website,
Value-based adoption model
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Social commerce is a new business model derived from the development of social networking
and e-commerce, which promotes product sales and influences the purchasing behavior of users
via an established network of social media and social networking sites (Sharma and Crossler,
2014; Huang and Benyoucef, 2013). According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (2016) survey, nearly
half (45 percent) of 22,618 digital buyers from the worldwide said that reading reviews,
comments and feedback on social media influenced their digital shopping behavior. The global
digital statistics reported by the Statista (2017), also show that 81 percent of Taiwanese users
use social media, and the most popular social network was Facebook with an 83 percent
penetration rate. As users become increasingly dependent on social media, e-commerce will
increase in importance and experience further development. In 2010 Mark Zuckerberg, the
Founder of Facebook, has stated outright that social commerce will become the new trend in
e-commerce (SocialTimes, 2011). As social commerce has developed, social media outlets have
begun to set up new types of services, incorporating relevant shopping elements into their
Library Hi Tech
Vol. 36 No. 4, 2018
pp. 583-604
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/LHT-01-2018-0007
Received 16 January 2018
Revised 23 March 2018
Accepted 16 April 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
in social
websites, such as the buy buttonon Facebook, and the dynamic commercial shopping links on
YouTube. While such features enable users to acquire more relevant information, they also
facilitate usersshopping behaviors while watching commercials. Since we expect a large
number of potential users will attempt to use social commerce, even though social commerce has
not been completely developed in Taiwan, we believe this research is worth doing.
The strategy and management consulting firm formerly known as Booz & Company,
predicted that the total global output value of social commerce in 2015 would top 30 billion USD
(Booz & Company, 2011). Consequently, 52 percent of marketers believe the social commerce is
one of the most important areas of investment, and Facebook is expected to reach almost
27 billion USD by the end of 2017 (API2CART, 2017). Nowadays, social networking websites
provide not only a platform for social activities and information sharing, but also a virtual retail
space in which users can develop new shopping methods and habits (Sharma and Crossler,
2014; Teh and Ahmed, 2011; Fue et al., 2009). Past e-commerce developments have been
relatively rational, focusing on efficient delivery, innovative payment methods, increased
product search speed, etc. However, the recent rise of social networking sites has emphasized
the emotional aspects of e-commerce, pivoting the focus from increasing speed to managing the
relationship with the customer. A company that builds relationships with customers through
social networking sites helps its customers recognize the value of its products and brand.
The interactive nature of social networking facilitates the promotion of products and can induce
customerstobemorewillingtobuy.Thekeytorunning a social commerce site that centers on
emotional operation is value creation. The higher the perceived value of a product or service, the
greater the likelihood that customers will be willing to purchase it.
A significant number of recent studies have adopted the perspective of value perception.
Kim et al. (2007) proposed a value-basedadoption model (VAM) based upon valueperception,
and explored userswillingness to use the mobile internet from the perspective of value
optimization. Gupta and Kim (2010) adopted the VAM to determine how customers
purchasing behavior and decisions vary under the influence of value perception. Lin et al.
(2012) combined the VAM and expectation confirmation theory to explore userswillingness
to continue using internet protocol television. Wang et al. (2013) regardedethical self-efficacy
for online piracy (ESEOP) as a manipulated variable,and added it into the VAM to determine
whether ESEOP changes the customersperception of value and affects their willingness to
purchase online content services. These recent literatures show how value perception has
become popularas a basis for the explorationof customerspurchasingbehavior. This trend is
not limited to single-faceted studies. Therefore, we also start from customersvalue
perceptions, and adopt the VAM as our basic research model as we investigate the factors
affecting the customerspurchase intentions on social commerce websites.
A few studies have taken the perspective of social identity processes to investigate customer
purchasing behavior. Social identity theory (SIT) is a well-established social psychology theory
of group processes and intergroup relations thatcanhelpshedlightonthecomplexitiesofthe
social context of interactions (Abrams and Hogg, 1990). Social identity refers to the individuals
sense of belonging to a certain social group, together with the emotional and value significance of
that group membership (Tajfel, 1978). In addition, group membership will influence individual
behavior, which will then be validated by the group leader (Chang et al., 2015; Halevy et al., 2011).
Therefore, we extend the concept of SIT theory to take a social awareness perspective for the
proposed research model to investigate how critical mass and endorsements will influence
customer purchasing intention on social commerce websites.
The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. In Section 2, we review the relevant
literature and develop our hypotheses. The questionnaire design and sample analysis is
descripted in Section 3. In Section 4, we detail the reliability and validity analysis, and
examine our hypotheses. Finally, we present our conclusions and note the limitations of this
study in Section 5.

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