Social Media and Shopping of Emirati Male College Students

Introduction

Research Background

Social media has played a key role in communication liberalization across the globe. As social media communication becomes part and parcel of interaction in the present world, Emirati male college students are not left behind. The young students use social media as a tool for peer interaction and exchange of ideas on the latest trends. It is important to examine the impacts of social media on the shopping behavior of these youths. According to Reyaee and Ahmed (2015), social media is a communication tool that can be accessed through online platforms with the aid of mobile phone tablets and computers. Therefore, the scope of this research is to establish the existing relationship between Emirati male college students’ shopping behavior and social media usage.

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Literature Review

Several previous studies have been carried out by reputable scholars aimed at understanding and predicting the primary factors motivating interest and usage of social media among the youths. For instance, according to Reyaee and Ahmed (2015), social media is one of the most common communication platforms for the youths consisting of Emirati male college students. In research by Reyaee and Ahmed (2015) aimed at establishing the popularity of social media among the youth population, the findings revealed that more than 60% of the young Emiratis have active access to social media and its usage in online shopping.

Reyaee and Ahmed (2015) further noted that the young population spends almost three hours on a daily basis online on different social media platforms to watch news, blog, and get entertainment. The authors concluded that the high percentage of social media access among Emirati youths could be attributed to its affordability and ease of use in group interaction.

Another study by Nazeer (2017) on the impact of social networking sites on college students revealed that social media has positive and negative impacts on shopping behavior. Through a social survey design, the findings indicated that social media promote positive youth development as they are exposed to different online shopping platforms. Moreover, Nazeer (2017) noted that social media had helped college students to build high self-confidence since these platforms encourage open discussions without fear of straining family relations or drawing controversy when shopping for different products and services.

This means that social media is a bridge to knowledge acquisition and dissemination to aid in accurate decision-making on what to purchase online. Nazeer (2017) also identified negative impacts of social media, such as impulse buying or purchasing explicit material. The findings further revealed that social media is a leading platform for promoting illicit products that have the potential of poisoning college students’ minds.

The literature review suggests that the merits of social media outweigh its demerits in influencing the buying habits of college students. However, the findings were spread to the general college student population studies. Therefore, the proposed research will fill the gap by concentrating on the Emirati male college student population and how social media influences their purchasing habits.

Research Question

Since the proposed research will be carried out through a primary survey, the following research question was created to address the current problem.

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  • What is the impact of social media on the purchasing behavior of Emirati male college students?

In order to properly answer the above research question, the researcher will use semi-structured interviews guided by closed-ended questions aimed at identifying trends and frequency of using social media in a population sample of 30 Emirati male college students.

Methodology

Research Design

The research was conducted through a primary survey of thirty Emirati male college students as respondents. Since the scope of the research was subjective and focused, the researcher opted for a systematic qualitative survey to capture potential insights from the respondents. In order to minimize potential biases associated with qualitative survey design, the researcher opted for closed-ended questions as guidance for framing responses. The 30 respondents were selected through the snowballing sampling strategy. The research was careful to balance the demographic characteristics of this sample space, such as gender and age bracket.

Questionnaire

The questionnaire designed for this study consisted of seven closed-ended questions revolving around social media usage among teenagers, as summarized below.

  • I turn to social media whenever I want to shop for stuff online.
    • Agree
    • Strongly Agree
    • Disagree
    • Strongly Disagree
  • I often express my feelings and thoughts about different products to peers through social media.
    • Agree
    • Strongly Agree
    • Disagree
    • Strongly Disagree
  • I think I spend excessive time every day on social media (three hours and more).
    • Agree
    • Strongly Agree
    • Disagree
    • Strongly Disagree
  • I cannot be comfortable without visiting social media platforms at least once every week.
    • Agree
    • Strongly Agree
    • Disagree
    • Strongly Disagree
  • Social media has positive effects on my online and offline shopping habits.
    • Agree
    • Strongly Agree
    • Disagree
    • Strongly Disagree
  • Social media is very important to my friends and me for discussing different product trends.
    • Agree
    • Strongly Agree
    • Disagree
    • Strongly Disagree
  • The social network has some negative effects on my shopping habits.
    • Agree
    • Strongly Agree
    • Disagree
    • Strongly Disagree

Since the responses were designed within a 4-item scale, that is, agree, strongly agree, disagree, and strongly disagree, it was possible to come up with uniform responses for all the questionnaire sections.

Results

Data Presentation

The response rate was 100%; that is, all the 30 respondents showed up for the interviews and duly filled their forms.

Table 1. Demographic characteristics of the respondents.

Age group Number Percentage (%)
18-22 years 15 50
23+ years 15 50
TOTAL 30 100

The answers to the seven questions were coded and summarized into tables and charts for ease of interpretation (see table 2).

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Table 2. Summary of the answers to each question.

Question No Strongly disagree %) Disagree (%) Neutral (%) Agree (%) Strongly agree (%)
Q1 10 10 0 20 60
Q2 0 0 0 30 70
Q3 0 10 0 35 55
Q4 90 10 0 0 0
Q5 0 0 0 25 75
Q6 90 10 0 0 0
Q7 0 5 0 15 80

From the above table, a graphical data presentation was carried out to capture a clear picture from the responses to each of the questionnaire questions (see charts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7).

Summary of response to question 1.
Chart 1: Summary of response to question 1.

Chart 1 indicates that more than 75% of the respondents acknowledged that they visit social media platforms whenever they want to shop for stuff. Only 15% of the respondents do not visit social media for the same purpose.

Summary of response to question 2.
Chart 2: Summary of response to question 2.

In answering question two, 80% of the respondents accepted that they express their feelings and thoughts to peers about different products and shopping experiences through social media. The respondents were aware of the wide coverage of social media. However, 4 respondents were indifferent.

Summary of response to question 3.
Chart 3: Summary of response to question 3.

85% of the respondents confirmed that they spend excessive time every day on social media (three hours and more). Only 10 percent of the respondents spend less than three hours per day on different social media platforms.

Summary of response to question 4.
Chart 4: Summary of response to question 4.

94% of the respondents agreed that they could not be comfortable without visiting the social media platforms at least once every week. This means that almost all respondents were frequent social media users.

Summary of response to question 5.
Chart 5: Summary of response to question 5.

90% of the respondents interviewed acknowledged that social media has positive effects on their purchasing behavior. The high acceptance rate is an indication that they are steady users of different social media platforms.

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Summary of response to question 6.
Chart 6: Summary of response to question 6.

89% of the respondents agreed that social media is a very important platform for them and their friends. Only 9% of the respondents could not relate social media to any impact.

Summary of response to question 7.
Chart 7: Summary of response to question 7.

85% of the respondents acknowledged that the social network has negative effects on their shopping behavior.

Data Interpretation

The findings suggest that 95% of the respondents are frequenters of social media platforms, especially when they want to shop online. These platforms are used by most of the respondents (91%) to express their feelings and thoughts about shopping experiences to peers. Another interesting finding is that 80% of the respondents confessed to social media addiction by spending more than three hours every day on different platforms. In fact, 78% of the respondents have reached a point where they feel discomfort when away from social media for a week. Almost 90% of the respondents acknowledged the positive and negative impacts of social media in their online and offline shopping lives.

Discussion

As established in the findings, social media provides Emirati male college students a fertile platform for open interrelation with different online shopping platforms. These sites are often used by Emirati male college students to share and discuss private and social issues surrounding online shopping and the latest fads in town. Apparently, Emirati male college students have formed a social media culture to enable them to share and adopt desirable fashion and other online products away from the traditional conformity expectations. Same as established by Nasser and Al-Jenaibi, (2013), group culture in social media usage is a common phenomenon often characterized by shared values and beliefs on issues affecting the users.

Since the audience targeted for the study consisted of persons of the same age group, it was easy to identify a pattern in response to the impacts of social media on Emirati male college students’ shopping habits. The social media culture has created a unique space for male students to share and compliment their peers about online trends without any worry about the prejudice of victimization by senior members of society. As a free platform where a user can hide under a pseudo-identity, Emirati male college students find social media a perfect tool for doing research on different products and services in the market.

The findings conform to the views of Nazeer (2017) on the positive and negative impacts of social media on Emirati male college students’ shopping behavior. Specifically, 90% of the respondents acknowledged that there are positive and negative impacts of social media on their shopping preferences. For instance, in conformity with the research finding of Nazeer (2017), social media has positive impacts, such as promoting health communication between the male college students to identify and quickly buy the latest trends from what they see online. For instance, the social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are often used by Emirati male college students to shop for different fashion wears and adopt unique dressing styles on the basis of available online images.

Conclusion

The survey answered the research question since it confirmed that social media has positive and negative impacts on the shopping habits of Emirati male college students. Apparently, the survey was able to confirm that college students rely on social media to get recommendations and search for different products and services. Before deciding on what to purchase, the findings confirmed that most Emirati male college students prefer doing online research through different social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The survey research method was ideal in establishing insight and getting first-hand information from the respondents.

Moreover, this method allowed the researcher to carry out a comparative analysis of the data before establishing a trend. However, the use of closed-ended questions limited the respondents’ views and denied them a chance to explain their answers. In addition, the sample space of 30 respondents has limited the scope and applicability of the findings beyond an experiment. Therefore, there is a need for future research to identify specific positive and negative impacts of social media on the shopping behavior of Emirati male college students. The current research simply confirmed the existence of positive and negative impacts.

References

Nasser, B., & Al-Jenaibi, A. (2013). War of the worlds: The promise of social media in Arab Spring nations. Global Media Journal, 2(1-2), 63-86.

Nazeer, J. (2017). Impact of social medial advertisements on university students. Art and Social Sciences Journal, 3(8), 67-91.

Reyaee, S., & Ahmed, A. (2015). Growth pattern of social media usage in Arab Gulf states: An analytical study. Social Networking, 4(11), 23-32.

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