Influence of social media on the buying behaviour of Millennials

By Priya Chetty on July 25, 2019

Social media marketing refers to the use of social media platforms for the purpose of sales promotion (Agrawal and Kaur, 2015; Duffett, 2017). This has completely changed the dynamics of the market by giving more power to the consumers. Moreover, social media-based marketing has also influenced the consumption habits and buying behaviour. It is providing consumers with a greater number of choices and giving them a scope to analyze and compare (Alves et al., 2016). While social media marketing strategies have been successful in influencing consumers of allied age groups and backgrounds, their influence is optimum upon the buying behaviour of Millennials. This is because they remain consistently updated about the latest information related to their preferred brands (Arora et al., 2018; Helal et al., 2018).

Social media marketing has a greater reach

One of the most influential roles served by social media-based marketing strategy is that it helps in reaching out to a greater audience (Dong-Hun, 2010; Newman, 2003). It also helps in interacting with potential customers in a more interactive manner. According to Farook & Abeysekara (2016), social media marketing enables companies to target a smaller and specific target segment rather than the mass audience.

Reliability and trust towards a brand

From the point of view of the consumers, brands promoted through social media platforms are more reliable and trustworthy. This is because social media marketing allows better interaction between brands and consumers, which builds better goodwill and commitment towards the brands (Vivek, Beatty, & Morgan, 2012). Hence, it positively affects the buying behaviour of the customers (Khan, 2019).

Increased customer engagement

Lastly, social media marketing also leads to greater consumer engagement with a specific brand. This is because the consumers get the scope of interacting with about the brand and identify g its advantages and disadvantages (Hajli, 2014).

The figure below summarises the impact of social media marketing on consumers.

Impact of social media marketing on consumers
Impact of social media marketing on the buying behavior of consumers

In the context of e-commerce, limited research sheds light on how social media marketing affects consumers’ purchase decisions.

For instance, the study of Curzi, William, & Noémier (2019), explains that social media tools like Facebook and Twitter help create user-generated content wherein customers share different experiences of their e-commerce purchases with others.

This helps others decide whether to buy from a specific website or not. According to the authors, social media marketing affects all the stages of consumer decision making regarding online buying. They suggest the following proactive steps for e-commerce companies to influence them.

Social media marketing approach for eCommerce companies (Curzi et al., 2019)

Social media marketing approach for eCommerce companies (Curzi et al., 2019)

Therefore, the most predominant influence of social media marketing is on e-commerce businesses. Competitive pricing and trust operate as the determining factors for the success of an e-commerce business, social media marketing strategies positively affect customer perceptions (Riyanto and Renaldi, 2018).

Discounts and sales promotions to attract Millennials

The increasing use of digital media by the Millennials has been the major influence behind most of the marketing strategies today. Marketers are aggressively using social media marketing as a tool for brand promotion.

Among the many social media strategies adopted by e-commerce companies the most popular are:

  • circulation of online coupons,
  • sales promotions on social media platforms,
  • giving away discounts and reward points.

Impact of blog posts, PR articles and interactive videos on their buying behaviour

Regular blog posts on social media platforms are yet another social media marketing strategy that appeals to the Millennials. This is because they like to read digital content and watch live or educational videos to update themselves about the market scenario. E-commerce companies find this to be a useful and important strategy (Wertz, 2018).

For instance, many fashion-based e-commerce giants like Forever 21 have live-streamed their new store launch on Facebook. It helped them create hype among Millennial buyers.

Social proofing

An increasing number of studies have found that Millennials seek opinions of not only family and friends but also strangers to make an online purchase decision (Sudha & Sheena, 2017). Therefore social proofing is a popular strategy among e-commerce businesses to impact the buying behaviour of the consumers. Businesses approach social media influencers, i.e. individuals with more than a thousand followers on social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. These influencers act as the companies’ brand ambassador. Nielsen’s survey concluded that influencer marketing on social media yields 11 times more returns than other forms of digital media marketing (Tapinfluence, 2017). Moreover, more than 82% Millennials today follow their social media influencers’ recommendations for purchases (Talaverna, 2015).

One of the biggest success stories on the use of influencer for promoting e-commerce business includes Kylie Cosmetics, endorsed by social media influencer Kylie Jenner. Amazon’s Influencer Program is also widely successful. It allows any influencer on various social media platforms to promote a third party product on their platform.

Similarly, consumers also feel convinced about certain brands when they get the scope to compare likes and dislikes against the promotional contents. Social media posting of a product review of a particular brand that is being promoted and its comparison with similar such products launched by rival brands also appeal to the Millennials (Arora et al., 2018).

Association of Millennials with social media strategies

The impact of social media marketing has been widely felt among Millennials. They are able to associate and connect with brands more conveniently. Hence, they tend to show an inclination towards buying a product repeatedly (Helal and Ozuem, 2019). Moreover, social media platforms give the scope to the Millennials to communicate directly with the brands and other peer customers who have some opinion towards it (Smith, 2011). Lastly, Millennials remain actively engaged in a wide range of communication and entertainment-related activities online. It gives businesses a better scope to attain customer engagement on social media platforms (Chu and Kamal, 2011).


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Priya is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Project Guru, a research and analytics firm based in Gurgaon. She is responsible for the human resource planning and operations functions. Her expertise in analytics has been used in a number of service-based industries like education and financial services.

Her foundational educational is from St. Xaviers High School (Mumbai). She also holds MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Delhi (2008).

Some of the notable projects she has worked on include:

  • Using systems thinking to improve sustainability in operations: A study carried out in Malaysia in partnership with Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
  • Assessing customer satisfaction with in-house doctors of Jiva Ayurveda (a project executed for the company)
  • Predicting the potential impact of green hydrogen microgirds (A project executed for the Government of South Africa)

She is a key contributor to the in-house research platform Knowledge Tank.

She currently holds over 300 citations from her contributions to the platform.

She has also been a guest speaker at various institutes such as JIMS (Delhi), BPIT (Delhi), and SVU (Tirupati).