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University of North Texas
Abstract Assuming that shopping is a business area into which U.S. social networks can expand, this study explores whether and how factors affecting shopping attitudes on social networking sites may differ according to product type. This study focuses on two types of items that social networking sites carry: real and virtual. It reveals that shopping services have different target consumers and factors according to product type. Age, usefulness, ease of use, security, and fit are critical in establishing favorable attitudes toward shopping for real items. For virtual items, gender, social networking site experience, ease of use, and fit influence the attitudes. Keywords: Social networking Web sites, online shopping, virtual, real, technology acceptance model.
Introduction Most social networking Web sites based in the United States have relatively short histories. The growth of these sites is, however, exponential. According to ComScore Media Metrix, MySpace ranked second in visitor page views, behind only Yahoo, by May 2006 (Knowledge @ Wharton 2006). As of August 2007, six social networking Web sites ranked in the top 20 of U.S. Web site traffic lists: MySpace was ranked 6th, Orcut 8th, Facebook 10th, Hi5 11th, and Friendster 18th (Alexa.com 2007). Moreover, major U.S.
social networking Web sites have seen a rapid increase in the numbers of their registered users. As of May 2009, Facebook and MySpace had more than 307 million and 123 million users worldwide, respectively (Albanesius 2009). Social networking Web sites have succeeded in attracting not only users but investors too. Media conglomerates have tried to acquire or invest in social networks. Despite some doubt about the stable revenue structures of social networks in their nascent business stage, News Corp. acquired MySpace, the largest U.S. social network, for $580 million in 2005. Yahoo and Viacom both offered $1 billion to buy Facebook in 2006. Venture capital firms recently put up $25 million in funding for Facebook (Rosenbush and Mullaney 2006; Vara 2007). Several venture capitalists also invested from $1 million to $10 million in Friendster (Kawamoto 2006). Despite the success of social networking sites with respect to attracting users and investors, academics and industry observers are concerned about their potentially vulnerable business models (Knowledge @ Wharton 2006; Olsen 2004). Specifically, the profitability of some social networks is highly questionable (Claburn 2006; Tedeschi 2004) because the growing number of users and explosive Web traffic do not necessarily mean that the social networks will make a profit. The finances of social networking Web sites also depend substantially on revenues from outside advertisers. For example, Friendster's revenues come solely from advertisers (Hopkins 2003). According to Framingham, a media research firm, MySpace generated about $125 million in advertising revenue in the fourth quarter of 2006 (Havenstein 2007) and $440 million in revenue in fiscal year 2007. There is little doubt that the primary source of revenue is advertising (Williamson 2007). Facebook generated $150 million in revenue and $30 million in profit during calendar year 2007, through August; an advertising deal with Microsoft accounted for half of that revenue (Vara 2007). For community-oriented Web proprietors, network externalities are a critical factor for success. Researchers suggest that companies with the greatest installed network bases will dominate the market (Arthur 1996; Brynjolfson and Kemerer 1996; Katz and Shapiro 1985; Lee and O'Connor 2003). As an increasing number of people register on popular Web social networking sites,
they may eventually turn away from smaller social networks—even though these smaller social networks serve as niche sites that gratify specific needs. Such a trend seems to be occurring in the United States, where as of August 2007, six social networking sites ranked in the top 20 list of most visited sites, but two years later, only Facebook and MySpace remained on that list (Alexa.com, 2009). In addition, Facebook has started to outperform MySpace in terms of traffic and the number of unique visitors (Albanesius 2009). Given the importance of network externalities in the context of social networking sites, it is imperative for social networks to develop stable revenue structures that utilize their massive user bases. In retrospect, myriad Internet companies have drawn huge numbers of users and received substantial attention from the press, but then disappeared within a short period of time—largely due to their lack of solid business models that generate profits. Advertisers and investors remain in flux as interesting new technologies emerge. For example, e-Marketer, an online business research firm, has cut its ad spending estimates for social networking Web sites; advertisers were thus predicted to spend $1.4 billion on U.S. social networking Web sites in 2008, a significant drop from its previous estimate of $1.6 billion. Specifically, the company cut revenue estimates for MySpace and Facebook, predicting MySpace would take an 11.2% hit and decline from $850 million in advertising income to $775 million. Facebook was projected to suffer a 12.5% drop, from $305 million to $265 million (Nicole 2008; Sanders 2008). The economic downturn is one plausible reason for these lowered advertising spending estimates, but the industry pinpoints another primary cause, namely, the lack of advertising and business models customized for social networking Web sites. The U.S. social networking sites are still trying to figure out how to turn their massive audiences into advertising dollars (Sanders 2008). From a managerial perspective, the key to success lies in learning how to monetize their mass user bases by building stable and relevant business models. This need reflects the intense competition in the social networking site market segment, as well as the lack of existing solid business models in the overall online industry. In that regard, this study suggests that shopping services may provide an area of possible business growth for social networks.
In addition. users between the ages of 13 and 34 years accounted for nearly 65% of Facebook users. and so on. Virtual items instead are products or services whose use and purchase are constrained to a particular Web space. furniture. and music that can be only used on . in that more than 80% of U. between 18 and 25 years. items sold through social networking sites may differ from those sold in other online stores. Due to the unique characteristics of social networks. In addition. college students use at least one social networking Web site. The socially interactive nature of social networking sites also likely increases the exposure of these returnees to the goods and services that the sites market." Real items refer to goods or services that can be used offline. The largest age group of users. Users who range in age from their teens through their 30s are particularly attractive targets for sellers of goods and services. regardless of whether the goods or services are bought online or offline. such as books. virtual gift items. they also are more likely to purchase products or services online than are older consumers (Akhter 2003. college students use social networking sites on a regular basis (The Info-Shop 2007). clothes. Profile layouts. DVDs. avatars. 85% of U. and 60% and 85% log on to social networking sites daily or once a week.S. As of July 2009.S. whose businesses focuses entirely on shopping services. A more recent industry report confirms these trends remain valid. constitutes 30% of all Facebook users (Inside Facebook 2009). respectively (Arrington 2005).Operators of social networking sites must establish user bases. which gives them potential shoppers in hand. large social networks already have potential shoppers in hand. Audiences of traditional media spread across all age groups. flight tickets." whereas social networks can carry not only real items but also "virtual items. whatever it is that keeps users coming back to a particular social networking site should be pivotal for shopping services in general. It would not be necessary for social networks to invest a huge amount of money in promoting and advertising shopping services or attracting potential shoppers. This study also considers shopping services attractive for social networking sites because of the user demographics of social networking sites. whereas social networks are highly concentrated on teenagers and people in their 20s and 30s. He and Mykytyn 2007). Online shopping sites mostly sell "real goods" or "real services.
and Lampe 2006. From the perspectives of social network operators. Some U.specific Web sites are examples of virtual items. 2008) rather than investigating social networks from a managerial perspective. it offers insights into whether widely accepted theories in the e-commerce context apply to shopping on social networking sites as well.. This investigation therefore sheds light on the similarities and differences between the drivers of consumers' online shopping for real and virtual items. real versus virtual items). More and more retailers use social media to target teens and young adults. Also. launching shopping services represents a category extension. Barnes 2006. in that 47% of consumers said they would visit social networking sites to search for and discuss holiday gift ideas. Shopping on Social Networking Web Sites Social media play increasingly important roles as a marketing platform. Facebook added a shopping application that enables users to search for .e. Tong et al. this study aims to investigate whether and how the factors that affect attitude toward shopping on social networking sites differ according to product type (i.S. academia has paid scarce attention to them. and this study may help them find ways to boost the chances of success for their shopping services venues. Steinfield. such as Amazon and eBay. shopping services are not the primary business domain for social networking sites. and most existing studies consider social aspects or privacy issues (e.. and social networking sites are a central venue in that trend (Market Watch 2008). social networks have geared up to provide shopping services. A survey commissioned by the American Marketing Association reveals a positive outlook for likelihood of e-commerce on social networking sites. and 29% said they would buy products there (Horovitz 2006). Ellison.g. By integrating the technology acceptance model (TAM) with other perceptions of social networks and characteristics of individual users. Unlike shopping-driven sites. so consumers may perceive their shopping services differently. Despite the considerable amount of buzz around social networking sites in the press.
Utilitarian value therefore is more associated with cognitive aspects of attitudes. and Griffin 1994. Teo 2001). and emotive feeling a consumer receives from a particular product. Online shoppers tend to seek utilitarian values rather than hedonic values (Reibstein 2002). and Rigdon 2001)." Hedonic shopping value thus reflects the value received from the multisensory. then share their opinions of those products with other Facebook members (Forbes 2007). Darden. evaluating price/quality ratios. and conserving temporal and psychological resources (Grewal et al. and customized profile layouts (Schonfeld 2006). but social networking sites in some other countries employ shopping services aggressively. Cyworld also generates revenues from selling real items. Batra and Ahtola (1990. utilitarian reasons. 159) define these values as follows: "(1) consummatory affective (hedonic) gratification from sensory attributes. cognitive.S. The primary utilitarian values that online shoppers seek include the convenience of locating and comparing merchants. Babin. It generates approximately $300.kr. Although U. Darden. Facebook has supplied virtual gifts. unemotional outcome (Babin. 2003. convenience. such as clothes and fashion accessories. whereas utilitarian shopping value focuses on the acquisition of products and/or information in an efficient manner. such as economic benefit (Zeithaml 1988). since April 2007. such as music and profile layouts.000 daily from individual users by selling virtual items such as music. . For example. they usually are provided for free. Cyworld. Adding virtual items to social networking sites could expand the value of online shopping. a popular Korean social network that attracts more than one-third of the country's population and 90% of people in their 20s. which reflects a more task-oriented. and (2) instrumental. carries both real and virtual items. avatars. Holbrook and Hirschman 1982).products they want to buy. fantasy-related. The addition of shopping services to social networking sites is in the nascent stage in the United States. Research suggests that consumers rely on two different sets of values in making their shopping decisions: hedonic and utilitarian (Babin and Darden 1995. social networking sites provide users with similar items. Mathwick. Malhotra. valued at $1 apiece. because online shopping services lack multisensory attributes.co. and time savings (Jarvenpaa and Todd 1997. p. and Griffin 1994).
323). Park.Shopping for virtual items also is more relevant to hedonic than to utilitarian values. robust model for predicting technology acceptance intentions (Gefen and Straub 2003). Lee. apart from any performance consequences that may be anticipated" (Davis. p. Perceived usefulness is "the degree to which an individual believes that using a particular system would enhance his/her job performance" (Davis 1989. and Warshaw 1992. Perceived enjoyment is defined as "the extent to which the activity of using the computer is to be perceived enjoyable in its own right. whereas perceived ease of use refers to "the degree to which an individual believes that using a particular system would be free of real and mental efforts" (Davis 1989. . and Enjoyment The technology acceptance model (TAM) posits that the perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use of a particular information technology drive users' attitudes and intentions to adopt that technology (Davis 1989. Thus. According to empirical tests in different technologies and settings. 320). Enjoyment usually emerges as important for shopping experience. and Ahn 2001). perceived enjoyment. p. this study explores the differences and similarities between factors that affect shopping for real and virtual items on social networking sites. and perceived ease of use may be able to predict attitudes toward shopping services offered on social networks. Davis. Are there differences between real and virtual items with respect to which factors affect attitudes toward shopping on social networking sites? How different or similar are the factors? Perceived Usefulness. whether a social networking site sells real or virtual items may determine consumers' attitudes toward shopping on that site. and Warshaw 1989). Recent studies show that perceived usefulness and ease of use both affect consumers' intentions to use e-commerce (Gefen and Straub 2000. because consumers would not purchase virtual items out of necessity. the TAM is a parsimonious. Considering the different nature of real and virtual items in a shopping context. along with convenience and social interactions (Javenpaa and Todd 1997). Another construct added to the model is perceived enjoyment. perceived usefulness. Thus. Ease of Use. RQ1. 1113). Bagozzi. p. Bagozzi.
Perceived usefulness. Even though some U. Perceived Security . the extension is considered fledgling. social networking Web sites have introduced shopping services and applications. introducing and developing shopping services can be considered category extensions from a managerial standpoint. perceived fit refers to the degree of similarity between an extension product category and existing products affiliated with the brand (DelVecchio and Smith 2005).H1a(b). Papadmitriou. 1987. ease of use. consumers are more likely to evaluate the new product favorably (Boush et al. Papadmitriou. H2a(b). Perceived Fit The perceived fit construct often appears when a brand introduces a new product or service in different product or service categories. these sites are not yet very aggressive about selling goods and services in general. Therefore. and enjoyment of shopping services on social networking sites are positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real (virtual) items on social networking Web sites. Therefore. The fit between the brand and the extension category also can reduce uncertainty triggered by a particular extension category (Smith and Andrews 1995). Perceived fit between social networking Web sites and real (virtual) items to be sold on the sites is positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real (virtual) items on social networking Web sites. consumers' perception of the fit between social networking sites and the individual items they sell would influence their attitudes toward the shopping services. and Loukas (2004) confirm the significant impact of perceived fit on intention to purchase the extended products or services. In that regard. If new products or services are perceived as similar to their parent brand. Apostolopoulou. and Loukas 2004). Previous studies suggest that perceived fit between parent brands and their extensions can enhance the performance of the latter. Apostolopoulou. In marketing literature.S.
Experience with Social Networking Web Sites Zajonc (1968) suggests the influence of a "mere exposure effect. such as Amazon. and Peralta (1999) empirically find that Internet experience has a positive association with purchase behaviors on the Internet. due to their frequent use of it. Aldridge. Forcht. As a person experiences more exposure to a particular stimulus. and Salvendy (2005) assert that this barrier causes increasing numbers of people to hesitate when asked to submit sensitive information over the Web. Unlike online shopping malls. 166) define perceived security on the Web as "the extent to which one believes that the World Wide Web is secure for transmitting sensitive information. Yenisey. The more familiar they are with a medium. shopping services are not the primary business area offered by social networking Web sites. they may not shop for or purchase things on social networking Web sites." They also find empirically that perceived security on the Web positively affects purchase intentions online. Therefore. p. the more favorably people feel toward that medium. he or she establishes a more positive attitude toward that stimulus (Monroe 1976. Applying this theory to social networking sites. Perceived security of social networking Web sites is positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real (virtual) items on social networking Web sites. H3a(b). Perceived security also may be critical for social networks that introduce ecommerce. That is. the less secure someone perceives the Web to be." such that continuous exposure tends to increase people's liking for given stimuli. Novak. Wilson 1979. Ozok. If people doubt the transactional security of social networks. and Pierson (1997) assert that the likelihood of buying online increases as overall use of the Internet increases. Zajonc 1968). and Hoffman. . the lower the probability that he or she will make a purchase through that channel. Salisbury and colleagues (2001. Several prior studies specifically focus on the relationship between overall Internet experience and purchase intentions and behaviors on the Internet.Security is a salient issue for e-commerce because users must submit sensitive information to purchase goods or services online.
Kuo. Therefore. Wang. Li. women accounted for 58% of online shopping. Forcht. 58% of men and 54% of women were Internet users as of 2001. Experience with social networking sites is positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real (virtual) items on social networking sites. Rogers (1995) also explains that people are more likely to adopt an innovation they are comfortable with and that is compatible with other technologies they already use. Online Shopping Experience Despite promising outlooks for online shopping in its nascent stage. so online shopping was more prevalent among men than among women in the late 1990s (Ernst and Young 1999. Yeh. Focusing on expenditures online. Online shopping experience is positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real (virtual) items on social networking sites. Gender More men used the Internet in its nascent years than did women. More recent surveys. Others may hesitate to shop online because they would miss the social interaction or direct experience with products. and Jiang 2006).H4a(b). Although online shopping has grown rapidly in recent years. and Usability Center 1999. Visualization. and Russell 1999). according to the Pew Internet (2001) survey. some Internet users remain reluctant to purchase goods on the Internet because they are skeptical of how much privacy and security they have in doing so (Aldridge. such as the Pew Internet (2002) and Sky News (2002). Research also indicates that male consumers spend more money and buy more frequently online than do female consumers (Graphics. Yet the gender gap has decreased in recent years. retail sales in 2010 (Linn 2007). Pew Internet 1998). indicated that women are more dominant than men when it comes to e-commerce. whereas . Online shopping analysts argue that people who have not purchased online tend to continue to buy goods or services offline (Linn 2007).S. H5a(b). Forrester Research projects that online shopping will account for only 9% of overall U. and Pierson 1997.
.men were responsible for 42% between April 2004 and March 2005. such as perfume and clothing. televisions). Pommer. Older people tend to exhibit more negative perceptions of new technologies and feel greater reluctance to adopt them (Gilly and Zeithaml 1985. Meanwhile. Nevertheless. Unlike other e-commerce sites that tend to mitigate opportunities for social interaction during shopping. Girard.g. Dittmar. cell phones. the situation could differ on social networking sites. Because the online shopping environment does not offer emotional involvement or social interaction. and the Pew Internet (2004) project supports this relationship. The unique characteristics of social networks as venues for shopping and product types suggest the following hypothesis: H6a(b). men still report higher levels of online purchase intentions than do women (Doolin et al. Korgaonka. and Meek (2004) maintain that differences in conventional shopping motivations between men and women may explain why women are less likely to buy online. Berkowitz. Age Previous studies indicate that age and technology adoption have an inverse relationship in various technology contexts. computers. Men are more likely to shop online for books. However. Madden and Savage (2000) specify that age is negatively associated with Internet use. Long. Women instead shop online for hedonic experience goods. The female gender of consumers is positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real (virtual) items on social networking sites. according to comScore (Maguire 2006). For example. and Silverblatt (2003) find that online shopping preferences depend on product types. These findings extend to the adoption of specific Internet- . Therefore. 2005). and Walton 1980). users of social networks can obtain their online friends' opinions about the products they want to buy. women may be less likely to shop online. and other "utilitarian experience" goods (e. Facebook's shopping application allows users to rate and discuss products they want to purchase with their friends. social networking sites enable users to interact with their friends.
17. using two samples of 38 and 40 college students. Although the use of college students can be viewed as convenient. Their ages range17 to 30 years. because college students are the primary users of social networks (Arrington 2005.9% senior (n = 105). The Info-Shop 2007) and represent a significant portion of the demographic age group that social networking sites and related retailers target for marketing (Market Watch 2008).8% second year (n = 23). The courses were open to all of the majors across campus. 6% of them where first-year students (n = 10). Age also has a negative relationship with the adoption of e-commerce. 13. H7a(b).8% men (n = 38). the questions and wordings for the questionnaire were carefully refined. The sample consists of 77. A college student sample is reasonable to study shopping services on social networking sites. Before the main test. though more than 95% of the participants were . two pretests. Peter. Age is negatively associated with attitude toward shopping for real (virtual) items on social networking sites.related technologies. and He and Mykytyn (2007) reveal a negative relationship between age and the intention to adopt online payment methods.2% women (n = 129) and 22. a total of 167 students at a large university located in the southeast part of the United States participated. and Schouten 2005). For the main survey. Basil (1996) suggests this sample is valid if their demographic group is of interest to the topic of study. were conducted. Valkenburg. On the basis of the pretests. The sample for this study consists of students enrolled in two large introductory mass communication courses. Method Sample and Procedures The data for this study come from a survey. such as online chat rooms and Webcasting (Lin 2004. Therefore. and 62. Akhter (2003) suggests that younger people are more likely than older consumers to purchase products or services using the Internet. so the participants' majors were heterogeneous.4% junior (n = 29).
The participants were first asked to indicate the social networking site with which they were most familiar. For real and virtual items that social networking sites could carry in their shopping services.52). video games. All these measurement items use a seven-point Likert scale. The selection of real items reflects the products college students purchase most often online (Pew Internet 2001). and 9. Measures Appendix 1 shows the measurement items and reliabilities for the constructs. virtual gifts. Of the participants. Bagozzi. 29.g.7% said that they spent 1 to 5 hours per week on average. Morrin (1999) and Tauber (1988) suggest that the similarity between existing products affiliated with the brand and the extension category can be construed holistically. Two items that measure perceived security are adapted from Vijayasarathy (2003). and the average age was 20. 99. clothes and accessories. This approach was taken because their perceptions (e. and Warshaw (1989) to assess perceived ease of use. Appendix 2 indicates the descriptive statistics for the constructs. tickets. four items from the same sources measure perceived usefulness. profile layouts. Bagozzi. Three items are adapted from Davis (1989) and Davis.. 57. and playable music. DVDs. In contrast.6 % spent 11 to 20 hours. books. ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).between the ages of 17 and 25 years.8% spent 6 to 10 hours. and Warshaw (1992). To measureperceived fit. The measures for perceived enjoyment come from Davis. respondents indicate their experience with social networking sites and . this study considers 10 products or services: computers and computer accessories. perceived security) of and familiarity with social networks vary. With respect to time spent on social networking sites per week. and the virtual items include items available on social networks that already offer shopping services in the United States and other countries. they answered the remaining questions on the questionnaire with regard to that social networking site.4% used at least one social networking site (n = 167).71 years (SD = 1. one item captures the holistic similarity between items that a site might sell and the social networking site that the respondent uses. avatars. The one item for the perceived fit comes from Keller and Aaker (1992).
Respondents also specify their age in years. SD = 1. and avatars.81). clothes and accessories. A principal component factor analysis using Varimax rotation was conducted first to examine whether attitude toward shopping for individual items differs according to product type. Bartlett's test shows that the overall correlations for individual shopping items are significant (χ² = 900. the factor analysis successfully yields two factors: real items (α = .16. on seven-point scales ranging from 1 (never) to 7 (all the time).Internet purchasing. on the basis of their frequency of using the social networking site and online purchasing. Factor analysis results for attitude toward shopping on social networks Attitude toward Shopping for Items Real Items Book Ticket DVD Clothing and accessories Computers and accessories . To measure attitude toward shopping for the 10 real and virtual items on social networking sites. and video games. which uses a seven-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).87% of the total variance.08% and 12.71 .10. The real and virtual items account for 53. The first factor (attitude toward shopping for real items) refers to six items: computers and accessories. music that can be played on social networks. As Table 1 summarizes.37) and virtual items (M = 4. an item from Goby (2006) provides the measure.66. DVDs.17 .31 . tickets.82 . SD = 1.68 Virtual Items . Table 1.09 .81 . which suggests factor analysis is an applicable method for classifying the shopping items. books.84 .89) and virtual items (α = . virtual gifts.001). The second factor (attitude toward shopping for virtual items) includes four items: profile layouts.26 . p < .41) are similar. respectively. The means of attitude toward shopping for real items (M = 4.44 .
Neither model suffers from multicollinearity problems.18 .84 .07* .05 . The variance inflation factor (VIF) values range from 1.0% (adjusted R² = .10 .09 .67 -.12 .29. Tables 2 and 3 show the results from the regressions.4% (adjusted R² = .06 .05 β . The first factor (real items) achieves an eigenvalue of 5.04 Experience with social networks Internet purchasing experience .06 .07 to 3.75) and 58.12* . The conceptual models explain 76.27 -.05 SE . The second factor (virtual items) reaches an eigenvalue of 1.52 . Results Two separate multiple regressions assess the research question and hypotheses.15 .Video game Profile layouts Virtual gifts Avatars Music played on profile .42 .28 .69 Notes.04 .25.61 .31.77 .07 .07 networks and real items .26*** -.55) of the variance for the attitude toward shopping for real items and virtual items.07 .16** . Table 2.69 .66*** -.05 . Multiple regression for attitude toward shopping for real items on social networking Web sites B Perceived usefulness Perceive ease of use Perceive enjoyment Perceived security Perceived fit between social . respectively.
14 -.04 .08 . ** p < . * p < .12 -.05.05 . .87. R² = .08 .11** .13 -.08 .01 -.64 SE .17 -.05 .06 β -.76.15 .76. Table 3.001 (one-tailed tests).01 -.04 .04 .16** -. R² = .07 Notes: R = .01.06 .13* -.20 -.06 .14* .58.02 . *** p < .01 .10 .23 .63*** Notes: R = .Age Female -.09 . Multiple regression for attitude toward shopping for virtual items on social networking Web sites B Perceived usefulness Perceive ease of use Perceive enjoyment Perceived security Perceived fit between social networks and real items Experience with social networks Internet purchasing experience Age Female -.55 .07 .
63. their attitude toward shopping for those items on social networking sites is more favorable. Hypothesis 1a postulates that perceived usefulness. p < . However. p < . p < . The hypothesis receives partial support. Hypotheses 3a and 3b suggest a positive association between perceived security of social networks and attitude toward shopping for real and virtual items on the social networks.001 (one-tailed tests). and enjoyment are positively associated with attitude toward shopping for virtual items on social networks. ease of use. but hypothesis 3b is not. p < .05) associates positively with attitude toward shopping for real items. p < .05.001) are positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real items on social networking sites. p < . Hypotheses 2a and 2b propose that perceived fit is positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real and virtual items on social networks.16. and enjoyment are positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real items on social networking sites.05) is positively associated with attitude toward shopping for virtual items. 14.05) indicates a negative association with attitude toward shopping for real items.001). Hypothesis 3a is supported.12. because perceived usefulness (β = .26. Hypotheses 4a and 4b suggest that experience with social networking sites is positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real and virtual . but it has no statistically significant association with attitude toward shopping for virtual items on social networks. respectively.* p < . Perceived security (β = . if college students perceive a good fit between real items and social networking sites (β = . ** p < .07. *** p < . That is. The same logic applies to virtual items (β = . respectively. Hypothesis 1b postulates that perceived usefulness.001). p < . Perceived ease of use (β = .01) and perceived ease of use (β = . perceived enjoyment (β = -.01. but perceived usefulness and enjoyment do not statistically affect this attitude. ease of use. Both of the hypotheses receive support.66.
respectively.05). Discussion . Online purchasing experience does not exhibit a positive association with attitude toward shopping for either real or virtual items on social networking sites.13. ease of use. With respect to virtual items. Hypotheses 7a and 7b posit that age and the attitude toward shopping for real and virtual items on social networks have negative associations. Although the results do not indicate a positive association between female consumers and attitude toward shopping for real items.16. p < . Hypothesis 6a is not supported. rather. Therefore. Perceived usefulness. respectively. p < . In response to RQ1.11. Hypotheses 5a and 5b presume that online purchasing experience is positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real and virtual items on social networking sites. the factors that affect attitude toward shopping are quite different for real versus virtual items. However. but experience with social networks has a negative association. this study indicates that women (β = . Hypothesis 7a is supported. respectively. such that younger people are more likely than older people to shop for real items on social networks (β = -.01). security of shopping services. Neither hypothesis receives support. Neither of the hypotheses receives support.items on social networks. even with the fairly narrow age range of the subjects in this study. p < . perceived ease of use. age has no association with attitude toward shopping for virtual items on social networking sites. experience with the social networks has a negative association with attitude toward shopping for virtual items (β = -. but hypothesis 6b is supported. perceived fit.01) are more likely than men to have a favorable attitude toward shopping for virtual items on social networks. Age is a significant predictor of attitude toward shopping for real items on social networking sites. hypothesis 7b does not receive support. and female gender predict favorable attitudes. respectively. and perceived fit between social networking sites and real items have positive impacts. whereas perceived enjoyment and age exhibit negative associations with attitude toward shopping for real items on social networks. Hypothesis 6a and 6b propose a positive association between female gender and attitude toward shopping for real and virtual items on social networks.
The proposed models explain much of the variance in attitude toward shopping in a social networking site context. In line with most prior studies on Internet technology adoption (Gefen.. it may be too parsimonious. The proposed models explain the results for real items better than they do those for virtual items. and enjoyment-with other constructs to predict attitude toward shopping for real and virtual items on social networking sites. whereas little existing research examines virtual items in an online shopping context.g. and Straub 2003. perceived security. which implies it should be supplemented and extended with other constructs (Venkatesh and Davis 2000). these proposed models remain quite simple. the model for the real items explains more variance than models in prior studies that center on shopping for real items in e-commerce sites (e. this study attempts to identify predictors of attitude toward shopping for real and virtual items on social networking sites by expanding the TAM. fit. Khalifa. and actual use of new systems. and age) to the TAM.. However. The proposed conceptual models add more variables pertaining to subjects' perceptions of and experience with social networking sites (i. Limayem. This finding should be expected. namely.e. The findings help identify how valid the critical predictors of attitude toward shopping-oriented sites are in the context of social networking sites that operate shopping services as an additional business area. More unexplored factors remain regarding attitude toward shopping for virtual items. as well as other consumer characteristics (i. this exploratory study integrates the primary constructs of TAM-perceived usefulness.e. and experience with social networking sites). and Frini 2000. intentions. Although the TAM serves as a prevalent explanation of attitude. this study reveals that the more people perceive shopping services on social networking sites as . Karahanna. Suh and Han 2002). Shih 2004). gender. Therefore. experience with online purchasing. In addition. 76% of the variance for real items and 58% of the variance for virtual items.Noting the dearth of research investigating shopping possibilities on social networking sites and purchase intentions toward virtual items online. because the conceptual models are based on existing studies focused on online purchasing of real items. ease of use. Pavlou 2003..
which represent utilitarian values. A meta-analysis of the studies that have employed TAM confirms that perceived usefulness has a greater effect than perceived ease of use on the adoption of various new technologies or systems (Ma and Liu 2004). its effect is stronger than that of perceived usefulness for both real and virtual items. only perceived ease of use. Karahanna. yet consumers' overarching tendency to seek utilitarian values from online shopping seems to overshadow the possible recreational value of shopping services on social networking sites-if the items sold are real items. Some people consider shopping a recreational activity. and Straub 2003. Therefore. Pavlou 2003). has a positive impact on attitude toward shopping for virtual items on social networks. . among the TAM constructs. presumably hinders the efficiency of shopping for real items. Unlike the findings for real items. in parallel with Heijden's (2004) study. the more favorable they feel toward shopping for real items on those social networks. The inherent nature of virtual items. Regarding the role of perceived ease of use. whereas the effect of perceived usefulness traditionally has appeared stronger in the context of ecommerce-oriented sites (Gefen. including their usage limited to virtual spaces and the emotional gratifications they may provide. Perceived usefulness instead appears rather negatively associated with attitude shopping for virtual items on social networking sites. cost savings are a primary reason for purchasing products and services through online channels. could explain why perceptions of usefulness of shopping services do not matter. Perceived enjoyment has a negative association with shopping attitude toward real items. which shows perceived ease of use is a stronger predictor than perceived usefulness of intentions to adopt hedonic systems. the perceived enjoyment of shopping on social networks. perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use of shopping services. a hedonic shopping value. determine the attitude toward shopping for real items. though it is not statistically significant.useful and easy to use. The shopping values sought through online shopping may offer a possible explanation for this result. According to Reibstein (2002). which appears to contradict Atkinson and Kydd's (1997) suggestion that perceived enjoyment strongly influences the entertainment purposes of the Web. In contrast.
A plausible reason for this finding is the perceived price difference between real and virtual items. selecting and introducing product or service categories that fit well with their existing brand images are keys to success. 94% of U.S. Because many virtual items on U. As the number of online shoppers increases. social networking sites are free or cost very little. . The findings show that security is a critical factor affecting the attitude toward shopping for real items on social networking sites—but not so for shopping for virtual items on social networking sites.S. Furthermore. Internet users may become increasingly comfortable with online transactions in general. the impact of the security concerns about online shopping might decline. Because such shopping services are just beginning and peripheral business units from users' perspectives. Apparently. Internet users have shopped online.Shopping services on social networking sites represent a category extension and a new feature for the site users. they recognize that real items are more costly than virtual items in e-commerce. merchants can lure customers to shop on social networking sites. Perceived security of shopping services on social networking sites is one of the salient factors that is positively associated with attitude toward shopping for real items but not with shopping for virtual items. so the impact of the security issue suggests that social networking sites should boost their levels of security when selling real items and increasing the price of virtual items on social networking sites. According to a report by Nielsen (2008) report. people may not have a concept of paying for virtual items on social networking sites. the findings in this study imply that by placing more emphasis on establishing and promoting an easy interface for searching and transactions. this study illustrates that perceived fit is a common and the strongest predictor of attitudes toward shopping for both real and virtual items on social networking Web sites. Yet this study also reveals that such concerns still pose a barrier for social networking sites that wish to offer shopping services for real items. Social networks' expansion into shopping services therefore appears to represent a category extension to consumers.
As the online music industry has. On the surface.S. Papadmitriou. Apostolopoulou. and Loukas (2004) find that a good perceived fit increases the likelihood that consumers will purchase the products or services. Although the participants indicate similarly favorable attitudes toward shopping for real and virtual items. The finding that women are more likely than men to support shopping for virtual items on social networks builds on previous studies that suggest women tend to shop online for hedonic experience goods (Girard. whereas they accept that they must pay for tangible goods. Thus. The decision is even more important when the service is innovative and new to the market. Launching virtual items could help social networking sites reduce their investment risks when they expand their business into shopping services. regardless of the channel through which they purchase them. social networking sites must determine how they can change the perceptions of low value of virtual items among frequent social networking site users and to encourage willingness to pay. The characteristics of virtual items categorize them as hedonic experienced goods. as better fits for social networking sites overall. Therefore. This issue is also important for the copyright protection of intangible products. this finding contradicts prior studies.Strikingly. they evaluated virtual items. and Silverblatt 2003). However. Korgaonkar. The interactivity of social . This finding offers another critical insight: Consumers still have strong perceptions that intangible goods available on the Web are free. Web proprietors should take care in their long-term decisions regarding whether to provide consumers with a particular service for free or require payment for a new service. social networking sites are accustomed to receiving many free virtual items. but it also reflects that people who frequently use U. this study indicates that experience with social networking sites has an inverse association with attitude toward shopping for virtual items. rather than real items. frequent social network users should be more reluctant to shop for virtual items because they possess the strong belief that virtual items on social networking sites are or should be complimentary. social networking sites might need to transition to alter consumers' perception of the value of intangible virtual products. U.S.
if the sites want to expand their businesses to include shopping services. but a statistical significance is not detected. they reveal that age is negatively associated with attitude toward shopping for real items on social networks. . the finding from this study also implies that such social shopping is likely to attract more young people to shopping venues online for real items. This finding aligns with prior studies that indicate an inverse association between age and intentions to shop online. female gender also has a positive association with attitude toward shopping for real items. Despite the narrow age range of the subjects in this study. will have more favorable attitudes toward shopping for real items. so further studies should examine other factors that may influence the purchase likelihood of virtual items. Attitude toward shopping for virtual items includes even more unexplored driving forces. such as eBay. the findings of this study indicate that the target consumers and social networking site features should differ according to product type. as well as those who recognize the fit between social networks and the real items to be sold. such as the lack of social interaction and emotional involvement. From a managerial perspective. That is. Women with have less experience with social networking sites but adopt a positive perception of the ease of use of shopping services and the fit between shopping services and virtual items on social networking sites will exhibit more positive attitudes toward shopping for virtual items. In that regard. further research should explore how the addition of social interaction functions in an online shopping context might increase female consumers' shopping intentions and behaviors. ease of use. and security of shopping services on social networks. Interestingly. younger people with positive perceptions of the usefulness. This study also suggests social networking sites can act as unique venues that combine social interaction. have launched social networking functions. and hedonic experience items and thereby boost female consumers' online shopping.networking sites also may mitigate the flaws of online shopping for female consumers. emotional involvement. Some e-commerce sites.
or actual purchase. It also suffers some limitations. purchase intentions. the results indicate that age has a negative relationship with attitude toward shopping for real items. "Digital Divide and Purchase Intention: Why Demographic Psychology Matters.." Journal of Economic Psychology. Despite the narrow age range. should enable additional studies to examine the effect of age on the intention to purchase real and virtual items among more diverse age groups. Albanesius. the selected shopping items all reflect popular items in existing online shopping stores and social networking sites that already offer shopping services. the results must be interpreted with caution. the focus remains on attitudes toward shopping rather than attitude toward purchase. Syed H. References Akhter.g. For the same reason. because some participants in the survey may not be familiar with shopping services on social networks. June . Finally. and though the participants represent different majors.As an exploratory study. The increasing trend of introducing shopping services on various online venues. Chloe (2009). (2003). To measure college students' attitudes toward shopping services on social networks. 24 (3). Other studies should investigate purchase intentions and actual purchase behaviors in other countries in which social networking sites actively offer shopping services. Further studies also should pay more attention to issues related to how the unique features of social networking sites (e. Most social networking sites based in the United States do not actively offer shopping services. network size) may influence users' intentions to purchase virtual items. this study uses an assumption that social networking sites provide shopping services. "More Americans Go To Facebook Than MySpace. The survey data also come from students at only one university. including virtual communities and game sites." PC Magazine. this investigation provides a starting point for determining how the sale of virtual items might contribute to the growth of the Internet as a shopping channel and create a unique shopping experience. 321-327.
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