Exploratory study on online buying behaviour of international student studying in the UK

Chapter 1:  Introduction

This chapter of study enclose introduction section and covers research background, problems statement, research context as well as research question and objectives.

1.1 Research background

E-commerce has shifted traditional way of shopping and created new paradigm of online shopping. The rapid development of technologies and communication combined, e-commerce has virtual reality for companies to achieve growth and sustain sales. Consumer buy product in their convenience without any location or time constraints. Therefore, online shopping has become a marketplace where consumer can purchase product and service anytime. Nevertheless, these technological developments have changed consumer behaviour and online consumer purchase characteristic varies in a distinct way (Lucas, et al., 2013).

Online shopping as new distribution channel has changed people perspective of shopping and information revolution embedded in consumer behaviour. Therefore, marketers need to understand consumer behaviour and influencing aspect associated with online purchase. The focus of research of consumer behaviour in terms of online shopping is important through understanding factors for motivation, value and attitude towards online shopping. In cross-cultural context, this study involves understanding behaviour factors of   international student studying in the UK to develop knowledge on their online buying behaviour (Zhou, et al., 2013).

1.2 Problem statement

1.2.1 Factors influence online customers

Globalisation has created integrated communities with people travelling across borders for social and economic exchanges. The technological development has made communication and information exchange integral part of digital economies. The social and economic changes in communities have created diversified consumer markets. These new market segments are based on people from a different cultural background with unique needs and preferences. People from across borders have distinct requirement and therefore, it is important to understand their requirement to target new market segments. Therefore, it is important to identify factors, which influence behaviour of customers in this new market segment (Stromquist & Monkman, 2014).

1.2.2 Online consumer behaviour

Online consumer behaviour to understand how consumers decide during online purchase is important to satisfy customer needs and achieve competitive advantage. Consumer behaviour factors are culture, income, social class, group relation and these differences are important between consumer groups from different countries. The identification and understanding of online buying behaviour offer opportunity to target new market segment (Choudaha & Chang, 2012). Online Shopping has created new competitive landscape but it has allowed companies to target new market segments. This study investigates online buying behaviour of international student studying in the UK.

1.2.3 Research Gap — Factors influencing online buying behaviour of International student in the UK

There are limited studies, which explore online buying behaviour of international student living and studying in the UK. The potential understanding about buying of international student offers marketing opportunity for online sales growth. This research will seek to conduct a systematic investigation of factors that affects online buying behaviour of international students living and studying in the UK. The insight of main behavioural factors of international student living and studying in the UK offers an opportunity for marketers to understand online purchase decision. The finding of study proposed an outline for online retailers how to position their online business for international student through understanding consumer behaviour (Panzone, et al., 2016). These factors will be evaluated from the international student perspective in the UK and how the online decision for purchase is made.

1.3 Research Value and Context

1.3.1 International student in the UK

According to recent statistics published by higher education statistics agency (HESA), 20% of total student in higher education are international students. This represents nearly half a million international students studying and living in the UK for higher education. (Zheng, 2014) International students added £3.9 billion as tuition fees along with £6.7 billion in living expenses. The economic value added to UK economy represents 2.8% of total GDP ( UKCISA, 2015). International student with diverse economic background and cultural values represent new demographic and market segment in the UK. It is important that marketers understand buying behaviour of these international students to tap marketing opportunity and successfully reach target market (Choudaha & Chang, 2012).

Figure 1: international student in the UK

Source: Voxburner (2015)

1.3.2 Online Commerce Opportunity in the UK

Moth (2015) stated that online retail expenditure in the UK has continuous growth trend over past years. Moreover, it expected that online shopping market share is expected to reach £86.96 billion by 2019 and online sales representing 19.3% of total retail sales. The continuous increasing trend for e-commerce shows those consumers are looking for best value for their transaction. The strong online sales growth, especially for non-food items, present economic opportunities for marketers. Consumer shopping online using m-commerce and e-commerce and therefore, future sales growth and sustainability of companies depend on ability of companies to contributed through online sales (Ruddick, 2015).

Figure 2: E-commerce Sales trend in the UK

Source: Statista (2015)

1.3.3 Online buying behaviour and international students

Internet has opened new distribution channel to purchase products and services online and consumer has access to wide range of options. In the online marketplace, competition is fierce and e-retailers have to difficult task to attract and retain customers in online competitive marketplace. The important implication of e-commerce is to evaluate the influencing factors during the online purchase for potential sales and growth. An international student in the UK makes up large market segment and potential consumers for online retailers. Therefore, it is important to identify and understand needs and wants of international students to reach new market segments.  Therefore, this research analyses the influencing factors which affect the online purchase decision of international students. To attract the international student it is crucial for retailers to evaluate the influences and consumer behaviour related to online purchase (Delafrooz, et al., 2011).

1.4 Research Aim and objectives

The aim of this research is to investigate buying behaviour of international student studying in the UK. The research question for this study is

What factors affect online buying behaviour of international student studying in the UK?

The specific research objectives are

  • To critically appraise theoretical context on online consumer buying behaviour and characteristic for international student
  • To determine factors which impact intention of international students and their behaviour for online shopping
  • To explore relationship between factors influencing online buying behaviour and international student shopping decisions

Figure 3: Research Overview

Source: Drawn by Author

1.5 Arrangement of this dissertation

The structure of dissertation as follows

Chapter 2 – Research Methodology

The second chapter presents research methodologies and research approach taken for this study.

Chapter 3 – Literature Review

Third chapter of study enclosed critically evaluated review of literature on consumer behaviour and identification of factors, which influence and develop consumer behaviour.

Chapter 4 – Results and Analysis

The fourth chapter of study highlight result and finding of study along with discussion and respondent distribution.

Chapter 5 – Conclusion  

The fifth chapter will disclose conclusion of study along with a research limitations to influence international student behaviour.

1.6 Conclusion

Online shopping has become sales channel for retailers and technological development changed consumer behaviour to purchase online. The purchase of online products by international student offers retailer opportunity to tap new market segments and increase sales. Online retailer needs to understand International student behaviour to know what influence online shopping decision. Marketers understand buying behaviour of these international students to tap marketing opportunity and successfully reach target market.

Chapter 2:  Research methodologies

This chapter of study enclosed the research method used to collect and analyse primary data. In addition, research process and theories that have been deployed is reviewed and evaluated.

2.1 Introduction

The objective of this study is to understand marketing factors which affect online buying behaviour of international student studying in the UK. To rigorously, understand online consumer behaviour critical review of literature on e-commerce and consumer behaviour is conducted. In addition, empirical literature is reviewed through reviewing studies with similar aim and objectives. This research study is quantitative in nature (Bernard, 2012).

For this research, appropriate research instrument is survey methodology based on questionnaire. The collection of primary data ensures primary data collected from large study population in cost effective manner and minimum time.  Size of questionnaire is limited to ten questions based on ‘Likert scale’. Quantitative research design involves collecting numerical data through surveys and analysing using statistical techniques (Bryman & Bell, 2015).

2.2 Types of research

Babbie (2010) stated that three types of research are exploratory, descriptive and explanatory. Explanatory research is useful to understand causes of social phenomena. Hypotheses are tested by research using systematic approach to validate initiate ideas. The study used exploratory approach to develop an understanding and gain knowledge about international student online buying behaviour. In addition, descriptive research is used to provide systematic information about phenomena. This involves careful selection of variables and measurement of units. Exploratory research answers ‘what’ questions (Creswell, 2013).

2.2.1 Suitability of exploratory approach for this study

For this study, exploratory research is deployed to investigate marketing factors affect online buying behaviour of international student studying in the UK. The research question for this study is “What marketing factors affect online buying behaviour of international student studying in the UK” and exploratory research allows identifying relevant factors related to international student behaviour.

For this study, exploratory research is useful to explore consumer and marketing factors allows understanding and supporting marketers’ importance of variables for students making online purchase. The exploratory study provide useful framework to identify and understand the factors which influence the behaviour of international students.

2.3 Research Paradigm

According to Saunders (2003) research design is important to answer research problem. The important starting point needs to understand is what data is needed and how data to address research problem analyse. Selection of technique for data collection and analysis decide design of research. The diagram below shows metaphor of research design selection (Saunders, et al., 2009).

Research onion
Research onion

Figure 4: Principles of Research Design

Source: Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009)

2.4 Research Philosophies

Research philosophies elaborate and explain process of data collection and analysis. According to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2015), three focuses of research process involves realism, positivism and interpretivism. In positivism approach, researcher cannot influence #subject of research and data collection and analysis can be evaluated through generalisation based on hypothesis from theory.

In addition, positivistic approach enables development of knowledge-based on scientific approach assumption associated with positivistic approach. The researcher will adopt a positivism philosophical standpoint to guide collection of data to achieve research objectives, which is to investigate online buying behaviour of international student in the UK (Miller & Holstein, 2009).

2.4.1 Suitability of positivism philosophy for this study

Positivism philosophy for this study enable researcher to provide less biased and results that are more objective that are reliable and trustworthy. The shortcoming of interpretive approach is that it does not allow the law of generalisation and stress that that human behaviour, as well as social context, are too complex to generalise. Therefore, when compared with interpretivism research philosophy, a research adopting positivism research philosophy tends to set his or her biases and perceptions aside thereby ensuring objectivity.

2.5 Methodology choice

2.5.1 Qualitative research

According to Teddlie and Tashakkori (2009) quantitative approach allows exploring relationship between variables and identifying causes of problem. It is useful to understand interaction of variables through quantification of variables. Likewise, it allows examining problem based on research framework because of rigid and structural approach for data collection and analysis. The focus of quantitative research is useful to explore unintentional connections among variables through closed end questions (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009).

2.5.2 Quantitative research

Qualitative approach offers flexibility design to study problem in social context. The in-depth relationship between variables is explored using non-quantifiable approach. This approach is useful when researcher cannot separate from situation. Benefits of qualitative approach are that problem can be analysed in border context through exploring relationship of variables. The questions asked in qualitative research can be influenced by response of research population (Smith, et al., 2009).

2.5.3 Rationale for Quantitative approach for this study

The aim of this research is to investigate buying behaviour of international student studying in the UK. The benefit of quantitative research for this study is that numerical approach data and subjective nature allows exploring human behaviour and attitude in-depth and developing better perspective (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011).

Quantitative research for this study is useful to test theory and explore problem through structural analysis. The numerical nature of data is useful to explore unintentional connection between variables and based on closed end questionnaire. The rigid and stable design of research instrument under quantitative approach reduces respondent influence on outcome research (Miller & Holstein, 2009).

2.6 Research strategy

O’Dwyer and Bernauer (2013) stated that two common approaches to research which are widely used are deductive and inductive reasoning. The inductive research is useful to develop theory and hypothesis from primary data collection whereas deductive approach enables to explore and evaluate theory and test collected data. Inductive approach enables to investigate problem in wider context based on narrowing down of observation and deductive approach allows testing existing knowledge and theory.

For this study, ‘deductive approach’ is used to examine observed data and then move to specific problem. The next chapter of study enclosed literature review and fourth chapter study enclosed result of questionnaire in light literature review to present finding of study (Glaser, 2014).

Weakness of inductive approach is a lack of certainty because of changes in variables as well as human behaviour biases makes inductive approach less suitable for this study.  For this study, deductive approach enables to evaluate the relationship of factors, which effect of online shopping on international students and their behaviour for online shopping based on the research framework proposed by researcher (Maxwell, 2012).

2.7 Inclusive Justification of research methodology selected

The rationale for selected approach is that there is lack of studies which explore the online buying behaviour of international student living and studying in the UK. The useful of exploratory study is that it allows identifying and exploring the factors from empirical and develop research framework to conduct a systematic investigation of factors that affects online buying behaviour of international students living and studying in the UK. Thus, exploratory research is useful to explore consumer and marketing factors allows understanding and supporting marketers’ importance of variables for students making online purchase.

Moreover, quantitative approach is used to confirm the variables using the wide student population. The benefit of quantitative research for this study is useful to test theory and explore problem through structural analysis. The numerical nature of data is useful to explore unintentional connection between variables and based on closed end questionnaire. Deductive approach enables to evaluate the relationship of factors, which effect of online shopping on international students and their behaviour for online shopping based on the research framework proposed by researcher and develops insight of main behavioural factors of international student living and studying.

2.8 Data collection and analysis

2.8.1 Primary and secondary data

Smith, Flowers and Larkin (2009) highlighted that data collection is important phase of research to ensure valid conclusion drawn from study through reliability, valid and accurate data. There are two types of data which primary and secondary. Secondary data is a data, which is already, exist and collected for other purpose. It enables the researcher to understand problem, define problem and evaluate solution for research problem. The important source of secondary data for this study is ‘literature review’, which is enclosed in next chapter. Secondary data would allow developing an understanding on online consumer buying behaviour (Blaikie, 2009).

Sources of secondary data are based on journal articles, books, and newspaper along with consumer research publications. On the other hand, primary data is a data that is collected for specify for research problem and does not exist prior to research. The collection of primary is vital to answer research question when secondary data cannot research question (Wrenn, et al., 2013).

2.8.2 Segment and Sample

A subgroup which share similar characteristic is known as Segment and members of segment share similar needs as well as behaviour feature. The homogeneity of specific group because of identical needs and segments allows studying specific market group. Moreover, for specific market segment different variables allows reviewing marker segment requirement as one group. For this study, only ‘international students’ studying in the UK is targeted to evaluate the traits and behaviour of student during online purchase in the UK. On the other hand, sample is known population which researcher intent to examine and represented the whole segment.

For this study, student living in the UK is studied in terms of purchased products online. The sample size for this study is kept at 200 due to time and resource constraint (Marsden & Wright, 2010). The figure 5 below enclosed the segment and research sample selected for this study.

Figure 5: Segment and Sample

Source: Drawn by Author for this study using MS word

2.8.3 Justification of sample size selected

The sample size selected for this study is kept at 200 participants. The reason for selecting the smaller sample is amount of time available to analyse and process collected data. Moreover, the aim is to develop an understanding of factors which influence international students in general rather evaluating the students based on social and economic background through taking in-depth environment perspective to unsure research completed on time.

The larger sample size require more time and it’s difficult to study different group and classes of international student population in the UK is nearly half a million and from different countries of world. The smaller sample represents possible omission of student with different cultural background, needs and trends. Nevertheless, it ensures timely completion of study and achieves objectives of this study.

2.9 Research instrument — Questionnaire

Holstein and Gubrium (2013) showed that a survey is useful to conduct among international students who are currently enrolled for higher studies. Survey is cost and quick method to collect data from large sample of population as well as surveys is associated with positivism approach. The survey such as questionnaire for this study would allow collecting data from large student population from all over the UK. The questionnaire is useful survey method to collected data directly from public and it allows data collection managed in short time from large study population (Bryman & Bell, 2015).

The benefit of questionnaire is that it can be emailed to customer or filled online to offer respondent time flexibility. Advantage associated with questionnaire is that it represents larger study population but problem associated with survey is lower response rate. For effective survey, study population selected should be unbiased and represent larger study population. For this study, to ensure study population represent larger population student selected from different region to represent larger study population (Babbie, 2015).

2.10 Sampling approach – Convenience sampling

Thompson (2012) stated that sampling is useful to select samples from whole population that allows generalising results for whole population. For this study, population is estimated at 200 students and invitation to survey emailed to students so that respondent can complete survey in their time. The characteristic of study will be based on students who have recently made an online purchase.

For this study, Convenience sampling is used to select the international student how recently purchased online items in the UK. Convenience sampling is useful as it offers easiest and continuous selection of sample to reach the target population. The significant factors associated with survey are processing and analysing of response rate. (Brace, 2013)

2.11 Questionnaire — design, format and administration

Flick (2014) added that questionnaire design for this study is based on ‘Likert scale’ five point and enclosed range of question to explore online shopping behaviour of international student in the UK. The size of questionnaire is kept single page to keep motivation and interest of students and generate high response rate. Questionnaire includes closed-end questions for international students have made purchase online or intended to make online purchase. Questionnaire is designed for literature review and an invitation is sent to respondent to conduct online survey. Design of questionnaire ensures that it takes only 5 minutes to complete survey (Wrenn, et al., 2013).  The questionnaire for this study is attached in appendix 1.

2.11.1 Ethical consideration and confidentiality of respondents

The research participants (student) informed of data usage and their consent asked before data collection. The design of questionnaire ensures that no personal information is collected and email of student is kept in strict confidentiality. Participants asked online consent before survey and data kept secure manner. Privacy and confidentiality of respondent given top priority and no personal information are collected from international students (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011)

2.12 Conclusion

To explore and understand international student behaviours which influence online consumer behaviour. The study remains exploratory in nature with description of variables along with deductive approach. Deductive approach is useful to explain the variables and literature allows gaining insight and knowledge of consumer behaviour. The control the response of respondent positivistic approach is used and secondary data allows exploring the variables influencing consumer behaviour and investigation using primary data allows investigating influence of factors on the online shopping behaviour of international students.

Chapter 3: Literature Review

3.1 Introduction

This chapter of study enclosed the literature review to present theories and model of consumer behaviour along with evaluation of factors for consumer purchase decision.   Racherla & Friske (2012) added that it important for marketers to understand factors that influence purchasing choices and decision. Consumer behaviour theories explain how consumers interpret information for particular scenario and understand behaviours. Online consumers are innovative, variety, risk aware and price conscious. E-commerce has present sales channels and new segment of customers in local communities (Rose, et al., 2012).

Section A

3.2 Consumer behaviour

Schiffman & Kanuk (2007) elaborated relationship between online shopping and consumer behaviour and added that online shopping increase sales as well as frequency of consumer behaviour. Human motives are intimately linked and it is difficult to identify differences. In addition, Kotler (2011) describe that consumer decision are influenced through characteristic that shape choice and needs of consumer. Consumer behaviour as underlying interaction between cognition, affect, behaviours and environment in which human being undertake their exchange aspects. In other words, consumer behaviour is seen as  study of how consumers spend their resources on consuming items including  study of what they purchase, why and where they purchase them as well, as how often they purchase them (Hilden, 2011).

3.3 Online Consumer behaviour

Online shopping has become strategically critical for companies to sustain their sales and satisfy need of customers. Online sales have allowed companies to sell products and services at lower cost when compared with tradition sales channels. Nevertheless, problem associated with online shopping lack of structure and rules, which makes online sales a complex challenge for marketers (Ashraf, et al., 2014).

To identify online customer needs and reach target market, it is important that marketers understand consumer behaviour. The online consumer purchase decision and choices require clickstream context. To effective reach market segment and control decision, behaviour of consumers is understood. Thus, identification of consumer characteristics and behaviour enable marketers to reach new social and cultural diverse market segment (Faqih, 2013).

3.4 Theory of consume behaviour

Ajzen & Sheikh (2013) evaluated that TRA explains attitude and behaviour relationship, which link subjective norms of customers with attitudes and belief. Behaviour beliefs represent perception of individual for outcome. Attitude towards behaviour shows individual evaluation and association with emotional factor. The normative beliefs are based on social groups whereas subjective norms are influenced by social influence factor. The perceived behaviour beliefs are individual ability to perceive ease or difficulty to perform particular task and control behaviour are situation or circumstances and influence performance of individual behaviour (Gaol, et al., 2014).

Theory of Reason Action and Planned behaviour
Theory of Reason Action and Planned behaviour

Figure 7: Theory of Reason Action and Planned behaviour

Source: Ajzen (1991)

According to TPB model, evaluation of consumer behaviour is based on incomplete voluntary actions of individual to define behaviour. The attitude of customer towards subjective norm and behaviour for engagement is influenced by intention. Attitude reflects feeling of individual to highlight performing behaviour. Subject norms elaborate perception of individual influence from social groups.  Social system and online communities influence behaviour of online customer (Kuhl & Beckmann, 2012).

3.5 Online consumer behaviour model

Seraj (2012) added that in brick and mortar store environment, consumer decision-making process involves awareness of need, information search, and alternative evaluation, actual purchase and post-purchase relationship with firm. Subcultures based on different social groups, social network and communities making diverse segments of market. Online buying behaviour of customers depend upon customer skills, characteristic of product, attitude towards online purchase, web environment and website feature. The diagram below depicts model of online consumer behaviour and elaborate online buying is clickstream behaviour of customer (Kacen, et al., 2013).

Online Consumer behaviour model
Online Consumer behaviour model

Figure 8: Online Consumer behaviour model

Source: Kacen et al (2013)

Section B

3.6 Empirical Literature and influence factors in online buying behaviour

Table 2: Empirical Literature

AuthorResearch / Studies (Findings)
Brengman and Geuens (2006)The study examines online consumer behaviour and finds out that customer lifestyle and internet usage is relevant for online purchase of customer. The lifestyle of customer enclosed personal demographic and characteristic and i.e. reference groups develop interest and opinion of customers to make an online purchase. The finding of study elaborated four important factors that affect online behaviour of customers. The online convenience, social network, product characteristic and trust are highly relevant factors that affect online behaviour of customer.
Delafrooz et al (2009)Consumer attitude towards online shopping and elaborated that psychological characteristic of consumer is separated from attitude and belief. Price comparison is most significant factor, which has direct effect on online buying behaviour of customers. The convenience of online shopping to save time and money has influence online buying of customer.
Kacen, Hess and Chiang (2013)Study proposed a framework to examined online shopping behaviour and evaluated that situational factor, trust and shopping experience influence customer online behaviour. The convenience in online shopping prior and post purchase affect the consumer behaviour. The prior shopping experience has the positive effect as it reduced perceived risk for the customer.
Smith and Rupp (2003)The psychological characteristic of  customers to explore  online buying behaviour of  customer. The finding of  study highlighted  factors which affect  online shopping are security, trust, social network and consumer computer knowledge are relevant to  online shopping. The factors summarised by  study highlight that marketing stimuli, psychological factor and social cultural have direct influence on  online behaviour of customer.
Russell-Bennett and Previte (2012)The author highlighted stages of online purchase decision. At first stage, consumer is influenced by marketing efforts and socio-cultural factors.  Next stage is processed stage, which influenced through personality, motivation, emotion and attitude.
Wirtz et al (2013)Study reviews effect of online brand communities and marketing communication on online buying behaviour of customers. The finding of study has highlighted that brand has direct influence on online purchase behaviour. The marketing communication tools social media and search engine marketing effect purchase decision.
Morgan-Thomas and Veloutsou (2013)Author reviewed impact of website features such as security and convenience effect online buying behaviour of customer.  Study elaborated that website features and online brand communities directly influence online purchase decision.

3.7 Evaluation of influencing factors

Diagram 8 below enclosed the factors identified related to online customer characteristics and behaviour. Lu et al (2013) analysed personal and cultural characteristic relevant to identification of online customer. The attributes of trust and convenience are related to influence the consumer decision and shape consumer behaviour in online shopping. Consumer interest and opinion are important in categorising shopping behaviour and online behaviour.

Brengman et al (2005) elaborated psychological factors such as shopping experience and time in related to influence on online shopping. The framework provided is useful to understand consumer decision factor.

Delafrooz et al (2009) added that psychological characteristic such as experiences and learning is important to understand the beliefs and attitude of customers. Beneke et al (2013) analysed the consumer ability to make online price consumer and its influence on the online buying behaviour of customer. Monsuwe et al (2004) concluded that e-commerce is useful source of information with minimum amount of time and improve shopping experience for customers.

Smith and Rupp (2003) analysed the customer characterisitc and traits related to shopping experience as well as trust in online shopping. Customer prior experince and social network have sigificant impact on consumer choice and descion related to online shopping. Gifford & Nilsson (2014) elaboretd psychological charatcersitc such as geogrpahic background relation to online shopping. The factor related to consumer decsion are socio-cultural, social network and customer background.

Shiau & Luo (2012) studied the model to understand the different stages of decision customer go through before making online purchase decision. The initial stage comes as input stage in which social group’s ability influence decision and choice of customer.  The second stage is making online purchase decision. This includes effect of social media and technology acceptance effect the consumer behaviour. The factors summarised in the study include motivation, personality, emotion and attitude.

The website features is important mediating factor in terms of consumer online purchase decision. Morgan-Thomas and Veloutsou (2013) are concerned as important factors in terms of making online purchase decision.

Kim et al (2012) product charactersitc influence in terms of making online purchase decsion. Online product influence impulsive buyers because the product can only inspect digitally and thus price and brand play an important role in influencing purchase decision of customer. In the case of international students, geographical background and product value is the important scenario.

Durkee et al (2012) studied online shopping offers new experience for international students and website features such as security and safety important factor for customer confidence and influence online purchase decision. Shopping experience of brand is based on performance to engage customers to influence buying behaviour of customer.

Technologies and information flow between buyers and sellers discriminate each other. Marketing communication of brand allows increasing customer confidence and students familiarity likely to influence buying behaviour of customers. The use of social media to advertise and attract customer through online marketing initiatives directly influence buyer behaviour. (Russell-Bennett and Previte, 2012)

3.8 Online Consumer characteristic

The characteristic provides an important foundation for identifying online consumer and manage segmentation. In the UK, international students came from around world and their social and cultural background varies largely. This diverse and complex international student background has greater influence on buying behaviour (Gatautis, et al., 2014).

3.8.1 Psychological characteristic of online customers

Seraj (2012) psychological factors such as motivation (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), learning, attitude, beliefs and perception tend to influence consumer purchasing decision and behaviour. Motivation refers to what drives a consumer to engage in purchasing. Oliver (2014) evaluated that online consumer psychological factors include factors such as motivation, emotions, perception and attitude.

According to TPB, attitude of  customer towards subjective norm and behaviour for engagement is influenced by intention. The motivation highlights  incentive consumers seek to indulge in  particular behaviour. The perception shows  ability of  consumer to interpret  personal information such as website security and usability (Javadi, et al., 2012).

Moreover, TPB elaborates that  attitude towards behaviour shows  individual evaluation and association with  emotional factor. In  case of an international student, motivation is likely to secure  better deal, perception is likely to develop from  social friend, emotional perspective is experience of customer and attitude defines  student experience and opinion with regard to previous online purchase (Lenker, et al., 2013).

3.8.2 Cultural and personal characteristic of online customers

According to TPB, attitude reflects feeling of individual to highlight performing behaviour. The difference in social system creates online purchase behaviour. Shavitt & Cho (2016) stated that customers from developed social system and economies are likely to make an online purchase because of higher probability of better disposal income. The perceived behaviour control is individual ability to perceive ease or difficulty to perform particular task.

International students from developed economies are more likely to make online purchase when compared to student from developing economies with less developed economies and weak infrastructure. Lu, et al (2013) added that income of customer has vital role in online purchase behaviour of customer.

Personal factors including age, occupation, life stage/lifecycle, self-concept, personality and economic circumstances found to have a huge role in influencing consumer-buying behaviours (Solomon, et al., 2012).

TPB elaborates that social system and online communities influence behaviour of online customer. Therefore, cultural and economic backgrounds have influence on international student behaviour. For example, international students from emerging markets and developed economies have more resources and technology literacy when compared with a student from developing markets (Gifford & Nilsson, 2014).

3.8.3 Social and Demographic characteristic of online customers

Sharma (2011) highlighted that TPB model added that Subject norms elaborate perception of individual influence from social groups. The social influence for online customer comes from new social reference group. The influence of new discussion groups, as well as social structure adding new opinion and experience, affect online purchase decision. According to theory of planned behaviour, normative factors are based on social groups whereas subjective norms are influenced by social influence factor. International student travel from different part of world and i.e. social influence varies considerably (Durkee, et al., 2012).

Demographic is important concept and factors such as age, gender and income effect on consumer behaviour. For example, student travelling from Middle East is likely to have difference social experience when to compare student from China or Far-east Asia.  Social system and online communities influence behaviour of online customer. For example, the research has shown those female customers are less likely to make online purchase when to compare to man customers because of consumer skills and online purchase attitude (Shiau & Luo, 2012).

3.9 Online Consumer characteristic and Behaviour – factors

Figure 9: Online Consumer characteristic and Behaviour

Source: Drawn by Author

Section C

3.10 Relationship between online shopping and consumer behaviour

Variables selected for this study are based on two categories. The international student buying behaviour is explored through understanding ‘Online consumer characteristic’ and ‘online consumer behaviour factors’. According to Cao & Mokhtarian (2005) research shows that consumers do not complete the purchase and fewer studies focus on intent to make purchase.

Shim, et al (2002) added that purchase decision information is important to use e-commerce as sales channel. TRA offer useful framework to answer the research questions. Ajzen (1985) provides useful behaviour explanation of consumer for decision-making process. The focus of this study is adoptation and descion-making to analyse intention of consumer (Jiang, et al., 2013).

According to TRA, human behave in reasoned manner to meet expectation of other while achieving favourable outcome. Human behaviour defines the intention to perform action and intentions are useful towards attitude and outcomes.

Therefore, intentions are based on motivational factor to influence choice and decision of human to perform behaviour. Consumer attitude, belief and behaviour are basis of information research and consumer intention for alternative selections. Therefore, TRA elaborate the intention of people as well as predictor of behaviour decision-making process (Mowen and Minor, 1999).

Wirtz et al (2013) reviewed convenience to save time, quality to fulfil customer needs, as well as personal comfort, is important variables for online shopping. The easiness through e-commerce and availability of information has influence decision of consumer.

The convenience and easiness of website are important determinants of consumer buying behaviour. The information allows customer to compare price and product attributes for potential online buyers are larger motive for online purchase decision (Solomon, et al, 2012).

Online shopping is influenced through individual characteristic and environment. In addition, Rogers (2002) stated that online shopping is influence through five stages. The first stage is knowledge, which involve information search about product and brand. Second stage is persuasion that involves individual belief and personal characteristics. Third stage is decision-making and consumer makes decision buy or not buy product. Final stage involves consumer evaluation of product and continues with future purchase. The studies have evaluated different stages of online consumer behaviour (Chang & Wu, 2012; Mosteller, et al., 2014; Bilgihan, et al., 2016).

The literature on consumer attitude towards online shopping enclosed multidimensional construct. First, is consumer acceptance of online shopping for purchase and second is attitude towards the e-commerce. Consumer characteristic and behaviour influence the decision-making process to make online purchase (Koufaris et al, 2000).

The decision-making process for online shopping involves information searching, alternatives and choice. Online shopping decision-making involves actions and placing orders. Online shopping is associated with characteristic, consumer attitude, intentions and decision for purchase (Gifford & Nilsson, 2014; Choudaha & Chang, 2012). The figure 9 below present the resreach framework for this study.

3.11 Conclusion

The review of consumer behaviour theories and models has allowed identifying and evaluating the consumer characteristics and decision-making processes before the purchase. Moreover, online purchase model provides insight on online consumer trait and behaviour. In addition, empirical literature has allowed identifying consumer traits and behaviour variables which have influence during online purchase decision of customers.

Consumer characteristic and behaviour influence the decision-making process to make the online purchase. The understanding and evaluation of characteristic and behaviour highlight the impact of relevant factors. These factors will be evaluated from the international student perspective in the UK and how the online decision for purchase is made. The implication for an international student is tested using the questionnaire and resulted presented and discussed in the next chapter of study.

3.12 Research Framework

Figure 10: Research Framework

Source: Drawn by Author

Chapter 4: Finding and Analysis

In this chapter of study, the results of questionnaire are presented and discussed. The questionnaire was designed with aim to analyse and evaluate characteristic and behaviour of international student which influence and motivate online purchase decision. Statistical analysis along with descriptive information produced is enclosed using the SPSS 23.

4.1 Statistics tools and techniques used for this study

To analyse the primary data collected through questionnaire statistical analysis is performed using the SPSS 23.0. Regression and correlation analysis are used to analyse and evaluate the impact of factors on the behaviour of international students. Correlation analysis is useful to quantify the relationship between two variables and regression analysis is useful to analyse the relationship between the variables.

In correlation analysis, correlations coefficient is measured and it ranges between +1 and -1 which quantify the strength as well as a direction of association among two variables. For this study, the correlation coefficient is useful to assess the relationship and association of variables which shape up the online buying behaviour of international students.

Moreover, regression analysis is useful to determine the relationship between independent and dependent variables. For this study, the influence of variables in terms of their effect on the behaviour and intention of the consumer is examined through regression analysis (Cohen, et al., 2014) .

4.2 Demographic variables

The first two questions analyse the demographic variables of respondents. The two variables selected to study are gender and degree student is pursing.  The first question allows understanding the participant of survey demographic. The table 2 shows that 55.5% respondent of survey were male whereas females were only 44.5%.

The second question asked during the survey was design to understand the degree students are studying in the UK. The table 3 shows that highest frequency of respondent which is 89 (44.5%) are studying for the bachelor degree and only 43 (21.5%) of respondents of survey pursing the master degree. There are 68 students (34%) who are pursuing other courses such as professional qualification and diplomas. This shows that nearly 50% of respondent are young international students pursing first degree as bachelor.

4.3 Computer knowledge and Online purchase

Question 3 of survey analyse the skills level of respondent to understand the familiarity level of student with computers and internet. The reason for this question is geographical background of student and level of technology and internet knowledge varies. Therefore, this question allows understanding the technical knowledge and skills of international students. The response shows that 26% of student highlighted lack of computer knowledge whereas 82 of respondent added somewhat knowledge of computer and internet. The summary shows that 67% of internet has limited skills and knowledge. Only 32% of respondent added very skilful in terms of computer advance usage.

Table 5: Computer Knowledge

The fourth question of survey was asked to understand characteristic of consumer in terms of online purchase made. The aim of question is understand customer attitude and belief for online purchase. The question gives an understanding of consumer in terms of purchase experience as well as identifies how many students have never made online purchase. Table 5 below shows that 58% of respondent has either brought once or twice online product. Only 20% of students have made thrice online purchase and 19.5% has never made an online purchase experience.

Table 6: Online purchase experience

4.4 Internet usage and product characteristic

The fifth question was design to understand customer characteristic in terms of their primary purpose of internet usage. This allows understanding how student spend their time while online and their purpose of online activity. Table 6 show that 40% of students use internet for entertainment and 36% of student uses internet for online shopping. However, there are fewer student how search online product information.

Table 7: Primary purpose of internet usage

The sixth question of survey was design to understand what kind of products student search in case of online buying. The gaol of question is to develop an understanding about product categories international student likely to buy when making online purchase. Table 7 below summarised the results of student interest in the online products. The response shows that 37.5% of the student has added that they are likely to buy electronic items where is around 25% of student showed interest in clothing and ticket purchasing. There is only 11% of student mentioned that they are likely to buy jewellery and cosmetic online.

Table 8: Product category for online purchase

4.5 Factors and experiences influence

The seventh question was design to understand the factors which motivate the consumer to make online purchase. This allows understanding the psychological preferences of students and factors which students consider while making their decision to buy online. The result shows that 85 respondents (42%) marked time and convenience as most important factor.  The security of website is second most factors with 31.5% respondents for student when considering making online purchase. However, only 4 respondents said they buy product online when it is not available locally. The surprising fact is that students are less concerned with price but focus on convenience.

Table 9: Factors importance

The eighth question of study design is to determine how social influence affects the behaviour for making online purchase. Table 9 shows the influence of friend, forum and social media influence during online purchase decision of international students. Results show the response of student and how social variable shape the behaviour. The response of student 68 highlights that social media is significant factor in shaping the student behaviour. In addition, respondent has given equal importance to friend and forum in terms of influence to shape social behaviour.

Table 10: Social influence

4.6 Reliability coefficient and analysis

4.6.1 Cronbach’s Alpha

According to Zacks (2012) reliability analysis involves evaluation of items and measurement scales which make them. This procedure is based on computation of reliability of measure of scale and useful to highlight the relationship between and individual items. To examine the reliability of factors of this research Cronbach’s alpha (internal consistency) is used for item to total correlation. Cronbach alpha calculate average inter-item correction to study the internal consistency and value of 0.7 highlight robustness of model in terms of reliability, validity and acceptability. The reliability analysis ensures that items selected measure the variables in reliably. Table 10 summarised the Cronbach alpha for selected items.

Table 11: Cronbach’s alpha statistics

The results for Cronbach alpha shows that value of greater than 0.7 represent the consistency of factor items in relation to measurement scale. The two factors evaluated to understand the characteristic and behaviour and value for factors which affect purchase decision is 0.802 and behaviour of student gives the value of 0.738.

4.6.2 Correlations analysis

Table 11 enclosed the result of correlations of all factors selected to analyse the affect the purchase decision on student purchase decision. The result summary of statistically significant correlation is as follow. Correlation coefficient for website design and function is r= .314 and statistical significance is p=0.002 and thus has shown moderate effect on consumer. The online purchase reduces travelling efforts have correlation coefficient r=.147 and p=0.38 which represent a weaker relationship.

The correlation value for communication and product information is r=.448 and p=0 which highlight a stronger relationship and affect in term of shaping up consumer purchase decision. In addition, the r=0.431 and p =0.005 which depicts a stronger connection in terms of making online purchase and product availability online. The value of r for security and reliability is 0.18 and p= .799 which highlight the weaker impact on the purchase decision of consumer.

 Table 12: Correlations – Factors affect the purchase decision

Table 12 enclosed the result of correlations of all factors selected to analyse the Intention and behaviour on student purchase decision. The correlation value for security is -0.43 which shows weaker relationship between consumer buying decision and beliefs. This shows security is least important when making online purchase. Correlations coefficient value for money and time saving is 0.334 which shows moderate relationship between consumer online buying and characteristic. Similarly, r value for convenience shows positive relationship and strong relationship between ease of shopping online and customer preference of making online purchase. Correlation coefficient for convenience is 0.309 and ease of use has value of 0.542 respectively and thus both items have strong relationship. Finally, the value of r is 0.138 for risk which shows weaker relationship between the student perception of online and associated risk of buying online.

Table 13: Correlations – Intention and behaviour

4.6.3 Regression analysis

The table 13 enclosed the regression analysis for the selected factors. The result highlight website functionality has positive impact to include the purchase decision. (β=0.159, P=0.34, t=2.135) Therefore, website functionality is important factor to develop attitude of student. Similarly, product information (β=0.117, P=0.13, t=1.520) as well as reduce efforts (β=0.125, P=0.89, t=1.520) have positive relationship to influence the student beliefs and effect the behaviour of student to make online.

However, security of website (β=-0.006, P=0.92, t=0.91) as well as product availability (β=-0.132, P=0.82, t=1.75) have negative influence on the student behaviour to make online purchase. The result shows that security and product availability is lest concern factors for the student when making the online purchase. The attitude and belief of customers is influenced through time saving (β=0.159, P=0.50), enjoy online shopping (β=0.031, P=0.34) and risk factor have positive statistical significance effect online shopping pattern of international students.

Table 14: Regression analysis

Chapter 5: Discussion and Conclusion

5.1 Discussion of results

According to Gifford & Nilsson (2014), online shopping is associated with characteristic, consumer attitude, intentions and decision for purchase. To investigate international student behaviour online consumer behaviour model, characteristic along with predicting factors are analysed to understand how it influence student belief and behaviour in relation to online purchase.

Wirtz et al (2013) reviewed convenience to save time, quality to fulfil customer needs, as well as personal comfort, is important variables for online shopping and influence decision of consumer. The finding of studying coincides with literature and study of international students evaluates that marketing and brand efforts in terms of information, price and user-friendly inference of website.

Ajzen & Sheikh (2013) evaluated that TRA explains attitude and behaviour relationship, which link subjective norms of customers with attitudes and belief.

Behaviour beliefs represent perception of individual for outcome. Russell-Bennett and Previte (2012) use of social media to advertise and attract customer through online marketing initiatives directly influence buyer behaviour. The findings highlight that availability of information and interaction on social media along with forums has personal and psychological implications.

Kim et al (2012) product characteristics influence in terms of making online purchase decision. Online product influence impulsive buyers because the product can only inspect digitally and thus price and brand play an important role in influencing purchase decision of customer. The result highlighted that student are concerned about economic factors and purchase items non-food items such as mobiles, cloth and tickets.

Normative beliefs are based on social groups whereas subjective norms are influenced by social influence factor. Shiau & Luo (2012) studied the model to understand the different stages of decision customer go through before making online purchase decision. The implication of result in terms of time and forum highlight that student compare price and check review as well as feedback before making the purchase. For international students, convenience and price are important along with social media experience have significant influence in the online shopping.

Brengman et al (2005) elaborated psychological factors such as shopping experience and time in related to influence on online shopping. The result shows that students are less concerned with security and product availability. On the other hand, website feature, time and convenience are significant factors for online purchase.

Behaviour beliefs are individual ability to perceive ease or difficulty to perform particular task and control behaviour are situation or circumstances and influence performance of individual behaviour.

Monsuwe et al (2004) concluded that e-commerce is useful source of information with minimum amount of time and improve shopping experience for customers. One the significant marketing factor is the customer comfort with processes and operation of website. The need of comfort, product information, eases of use, time and cost saving influence online buying behaviour of students. The purchase of ticket and electronic items for student are in demand as it saves money and convenience for students.

Delafrooz et al (2009) convenience of online shopping to save time and money has influence online buying of customer. The lack of online skills shows that students prefer ease of website functionality and design are important factor in the buying behaviour of students.

According to Kacen, et al (2013) online buying behaviour of customers depend upon customer skills, characteristic of product, attitude towards online purchase, web environment and website feature. Students are younger generation and look for electronic items and tickets when making online purchase. The results show that significant numbers of students do not have advanced computer skills as well as have purchased online product on fewer occasions. For the student the product segmentation and price is important

5.2 Conclusion

The research aim of this study was to understand and evaluate what marketing factors affect online buying behaviour of international student studying in the UK. There is large number of international which highlighted untapped customer segment which provides opportunities for online sales. To analyse international student behaviour online consumer behaviour model, characteristic along with predicting factors to analyse how it influence student belief and behaviour in relation to online purchase.

In the light of TRA model the identified factors such as intention and attitude for online shopping is influenced because of convenience and type of product and psychological characteristics. For student, convenience and price are important along with social media experience have significant influence in the online shopping. The result shows that students are less concerned with security and product availability. On the other hand, website feature, time and convenience are significant factors for online purchase.

To evaluate the international student response, 200 responses were collected. The questionnaire design was based on three segments which include demographics and online readability, student attitude and evaluation of marketing factors using correlation and regression analysis.

The results show that significant numbers of students do not have advanced computer skills as well as have purchased online product on fewer occasions. For the student the product segmentation and price is important. The respondents are studying for bachelor degree or other which depicts is those students are younger generation and look for electronic items and tickets when making online purchase. The need of comfort, product information, eases of use, time and cost saving influence online buying behaviour of students.

To ensure the validity and reliability of selected variables reliability analysis were conducted which involves evaluation of items and measurement scales which make them. Cronbach’s alpha highlighted the relationship between and individual items in terms of internal consistency reliability of factors.

The implication of result in terms of time and forum highlight that student compare price and check review as well as feedback before making the purchase. The purchase of ticket and electronic items for student are in demand as it saves money and convenience for students. The lack of online skills shows that students prefer ease of website functionality and design are important factor in the buying behaviour of students. One the significant marketing factor is the customer comfort with processes and operation of website.

The availability of information and interaction on social media along with forums has personal and psychological implications. The cultural implication highlights the constraint such limited online buying and e-commerce background. The result highlighted that student are concerned about economic factors and purchase items non-food items such as mobiles, cloth and tickets. Students evaluate the marketing and brand efforts in terms of information, price and user-friendly inference of website.

To summarise, the research has achieved its objectives to analyse the buying behaviour of international students in the UK. The literature reviews have provided in-depth theoretical context on online consumer buying behaviour and characteristic along with identification of marketing factors which affect attitude and behaviour.

The statistical analysis was performed for 10 selected factors to determine factors which impact of online shopping on international students and it influence behaviour of international students for online shopping. In addition, to explore the relationship between online buying behaviour and international student shopping trend regression analysis were performed to conduct in perspective and relationship of variables.

The implication of research is that has highlighted the psychological and personal preference of international students along with implication for e-retailers. The research has integrated consumer characteristic and behaviour implications for marketers to understand the buying behaviour of international students.

5.3 Research limitation and future research possibilities

The study involves identification of main factors only, which influence international student behaviour because on size of research. The Scope is limited to analysing key attributes rather taking in-depth environment perspective to unsure research completed on time. Moreover, selected study population is kept to 200 respondents because of amount of time available to analyse and process collected data.

Convenience sampling is used to select population across the UK. However, international student population in the UK is nearly half a million from different countries of world. The smaller sample represents possible omission of student with different cultural background, needs and trends. Nevertheless, larger study population based on quota sampling might include student from all countries and cultural background. The future research opportunities involve conducting survey for specific product or evaluating the buying behaviour of specific group with identical characteristic. This would allow controlling the impact of social and economic background of customers. Moreover, conducting larger survey and dividing student based on detail demographic present new analytical directions.

 

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Appendix 1 – Questionnaire for this study

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  1. Gender

۝ Male ۝ Female

  1. What degree are you studying?
    ۝ Bachelors    ۝ Master   ۝ Other
  2. How you rate your computer and online knowledge?

۝ Limited Skilful    ۝ Somewhat  Skilful   ۝ Very Skilful

  1. How many times have made online purchase?
    ۝ Once ۝ Twice   ۝ Thrice  ۝ Never  
  2. What is your primary purpose of internet usage?
    ۝ Information and Product Search ۝ Make Purchase   ۝ Entertainment and Music  ۝ Email and Banking  

 

  1. What kind of product you prefer to purchase online?
    ۝ Electronic ۝ Clothes and Shoes   ۝ Tickets   ۝ Jewellery and Cosmetic  

 

  1. What factors motivate you to make online purchase?

۝  Product Price    ۝ Time & Convenience  ۝ Security and trust  ۝ Not available locally

  1. What factors motivate you to make online purchase?

۝  Friend & Family   ۝ Social Media   ۝ Forums  ۝ Online Ads

 

 


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