Information Search Behaviour Based on Social Media. A Generational Perspective in Romania
Posted: 23 Jan 2017
Date Written: October 28, 2016
A. Purpose The purpose of the study was to identify the key factors which determine Generation Z, Y and X members to use social networking for communicating and seeking information and to analyse the connection between information seeking via social networks and the use of personal sources of information when preparing the buying decision. B. Methodology To achieve the objectives of the study, an exploratory empirical study was conducted. The sample size was 858 people of which 511 (59,6%) belong to generation Y, 244 (28,44%) to generation X, and the rest of 103 respondents to generation Z. Once collected, data was tested for reliability, validity and internal consistency by means of the Cronbach's alpha coefficient (α >0,7), the "item-total" correlation, the KMO factor (>0,7), Bartlett's test of sphericity (exploratory factor analysis). C. Originality The authors identify a number of factors that influence communication and information search through social networking, namely: desire to be informed, use of the Internet as an information source, desirable characteristics from an information. Moreover, the authors analyze the link between information search on social networks and the use of personal sources of information in decision making process. D. Results Analysis conducted on the three generations (Z, Y and X) highlights some very interesting aspects that help us better understand how generations X, Y and Z consumers perceive social media as a means of communication and information. Thus, the Internet is a valuable source of information for all three generations and is the main factor that enables the use of social media for finding and communicating various types of information, including commercial information. These results are consistent with findings from the literature (Singh, 2013 Dabija, Grant, 2016), namely that the virtual environment is a relevant source of information for most generations of consumers. In the case of Generation Z members, the influence of the Internet on their information seeking via social media is the most significant by comparison with the other two generations as Z generation uses almost exclusively the digital channels to keep themselves informed. E. Research limitations among the limitations of the research is the disproportionate sample structure, whose number of assessments was unequal across the three generations considered due to financial constraints. Another limitation was the model's limited number of factors since the literature is not very "rich" in this respect. F. Academic implications It is the first study of its kind conducted in Romania on Generation Z, Y and X members. G. Managerial implications Having considered the results of the study, we believe the companies should make use of specific Internet communication channels - email, social networks, blogs, and forums - by including them in the integrated marketing communication strategies. The advertisements should demonstrate creativity and be capable to inspire people, make them convey it to other people. Given the importance of the recommendations from other consumers, companies should create adequate channels of reference for WOM (word of mouth communication) in the online environment.
Keywords: information search; Internet; social media; Millennials; Generation X; Generation Z
JEL Classification: F21, Q01, M30, M31
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