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Consumer engagement with retail firms through social media: an empirical study in Chile

Constanza Bianchi (School of Business, Universidad Adolfo Ibanez, Santiago, Chile) (QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Lynda Andrews (QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 17 April 2018

Issue publication date: 4 May 2018

Abstract

Purpose

Given the widespread popularity of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, understanding consumer-brand engagement behavior within social media is fundamental for retail firms. Yet, little is known about how consumers engage with retail brands through social media. The purpose of this paper is to address this gap and extend previous research by examining factors that influence consumers’ attitudes and intentions to engage with retail brands through Facebook, and ultimately purchase products and services.

Design/methodology/approach

This study draws on the theory of reasoned action and the technology acceptance model to develop a model of consumer-brand social media engagement and purchase intentions. Specifically, the model tests the influence of five antecedents of attitude on consumer intentions to engage with retail brands through the brands’ Facebook pages as well as intentions to make purchases through this social media. The hypotheses of the model are tested using structural equation modeling.

Findings

The findings provide an understanding of the main drivers of consumer-brand engagement that can lead to purchase intentions. Results show that consumers’ attitudes toward engaging with retail brands through Facebook are influenced by peer communication, compatibility and credibility, and that attitude has a strong influence on intentions toward this behavior. Furthermore, there is a strong relationship between intentions to engage and the likelihood of purchasing through a retail brand’s Facebook page.

Research limitations/implications

This study is cross-sectional and was conducted at a particular point in time. Thus, results are not purported to make any inferences to causal relationships. Further, the measures of intentions to engage are attitudinal and not objective measures. Future longitudinal studies may help avoid this limitation by testing causal relationships.

Practical implications

The study contributes to the important area of consumer engagement with retail brands through social media in ways that may lead to making purchases. Findings can provide retailers with reference points through which to engage their brands with consumers through their Facebook pages in ways that may lead to more direct returns on their investment in social media sites.

Originality/value

Retailers are noticing the power of social media sites as a platform for engaging with consumers and extending this relationship to purchases. However, scant research has addressed this topic. The proposed model and findings of this study can extend prior research.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the support from Millennium Nucleus in Entrepreneurial Strategy Under Uncertainty (NS130028).

Citation

Bianchi, C. and Andrews, L. (2018), "Consumer engagement with retail firms through social media: an empirical study in Chile", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 46 No. 4, pp. 364-385. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRDM-02-2017-0035

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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