Role of Social Shopping In Consumer Decision-Making

My earlier blog talked about the three generations of social shopping. Now that we have understood the basics of social shopping and its benefits, we are ready to analyze it comprehensively. Let us now understand how social shopping helps consumer make a decision to buy a product. We will build upon the example of our modern-day, tech-savvy shopper Steve and generalize it to normal buying behavior.

Steve considered buying a mobile phone. There are several phone manufactures in the whole-wide world and every manufacturer produces numerous models. All the models available in the world market can be considered to be the elements of a large set which is called the ‘Total Set’. To elaborate, total set is the set of all the models of the product under consideration, available in the world market.

Out of the Total Set of mobile phones, Steve was aware of only some of the models. In a very practical setting also a consumer will be aware of only some or many of varieties of a product, but definitely not all. This is due to the geographical and physical constraints of human beings. This set of models of mobile phones, which Steve was aware of, is called his ‘Awareness Set’. Internet has increased the width of awareness set of individuals. Ever since the manufactures from around the globe have created their own websites and listed down all their products, people have become aware of them. Consumers now know that there are many more models available in the market than those present in the physical markets in their vicinity. Online shopping has contributed a lot towards that by listing a very exhaustive range of products from different manufacturers at one place. Even if a person visits just one such website, like Amazon, his awareness set increases manifold.

When Steve had considered buying a mobile phone he had certain constraints. He had a pre-decided maximum amount which he could spend. Similarly there can be several other parameters and constraints which individuals have in mind when contemplating to buy a product. Brands, operating systems (for mobile phones and laptops in particular), ease-of-use are some of them. Based on such parameters, Steve ruled out some models from the awareness set. The remaining models constitute his ‘Consideration Set’. To elaborate, this set constitutes those models which Steve ‘can’ and ‘wants’ to buy.

Next, Steve shortlisted some models from the consideration set based on features and aesthetics. Likewise there can be several parameters which one uses to do this exercise, like colors, quality, and trendiness and so on. These parameters differ for different individuals based on their tastes, lifestyles etc. The products left in the basket after this exercise form the ‘Choice Set’. Choice set consists of those products which the consumer wants to buy and which can be easily substituted by other products in the same basket which losing out much in terms of features, quality, price etc.

Now the key decision had to be taken, the final choice. Steve had narrowed done to three models from which he had to decide the final model. Since the products in the choice set are easily substitutable, it becomes difficult to decide which product to finally buy. Social shopping enters the ground. Steve shared his dilemma with his online shopping buddies in his virtual shopping network on a third generation social shopping website, such as, ShopSocially. ShopSocially had enabled Steve to map all his friends on Facebook (who ran in hundreds) for shopping decisions and also it had enabled him to connect with serial shoppers present in the ShopSocially network. Steve also posted questions on the website’s posts and asked people for their opinions. He received a lot of replies and people had given opinions based on personal usage of the products. Steve compared the opinions and got a clear answer as to which model to buy and went for it. After using the phone for a while he felt content and happy to have made the right choice.

In conclusion this is the role that social shopping plays in consumer decision-making. Social Shopping helps the consumer to ‘decide’ the product from his or her ‘Choice set’.

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Article By
I am an MBA student at IIM Lucknow


COMMENTs ( 7 )

  1. suninder says

    Nice one … Though I have always wondered about one thing … how do people actually retrofit their expectations with technical stuff which is not actually so clear and is just a part of some kind of social engineering … for example there are quite a few people who actually fail to understand an OS its uses etc, but still have a strong opinion about such stuff because they have been carefully engineered to do so. Would be nice if you could elaborate on that ….

  2. Rahul @ MazaKaro says

    Loved the way you were taking an example and explaining , the whole idea is new to me and social shopping seems to be very interesting ! so thank you for talking about this and i’ll be checking it out tonight :)

  3. Nihar says

    Great to know about this. I didn’t knew about Social Shopping. Thanks for introducing to me.

    Will check this out.