LWL | How Does Consumers’ Purchasing Behaviour Differ When Influenced by Social Media Marketing Versus Traditional Marketing Methods?

By Raga Aswitha Gunda


Although social media marketing is very effective and is reaching a great number of target audience due to the daily use of the internet, traditional marketing is still needed to create a genuine connection with all age groups as people tend to trust, rely on, and support a brand more if traditional marketing methods are implemented. 


This research delves into the dynamics of consumers' purchasing behaviour under the influence of Social Media Marketing (SMM) as compared to Traditional Marketing Methods (TMM). The central thesis posits that, despite the expansive reach of social media marketing, traditional methods remain indispensable for establishing authentic connections across diverse age groups, fostering trust, reliance, and brand support. The paper navigates through both digital and traditional marketing landscapes, exploring psychological, behavioural, and cognitive aspects. It unravels the immediacy, personalization, and social validation factors shaping consumer responses in SMM, while emphasizing the tactile experiences, brand longevity, and tangible connections fostered through TMM. The analysis extends to online interactions and offline experiences, highlighting their contributions to brand engagement and elucidating the complex interplay of stimuli and responses. Furthermore, the research scrutinizes the cognitive aspects of consumer choices, unravelling how trust, reliance, and support influence purchasing decisions in the realms of both SMM and TMM. The exploration encompasses psychological cues, brand perception, and the resonance of marketing messages, providing a comprehensive understanding of the intricate tapestry of decision-making processes.

How Does Consumers’ Purchasing Behaviour Differ When Influenced by Social Media Marketing Versus Traditional Marketing Methods?

                    The influence of media on consumer behaviour has undergone a significant transformation (Mehmeti-Bajrami, S., Qerimi, F., & Qerimi, A. 2022). With the introduction of social media platforms, traditional marketing approaches have been revolutionized, bringing in a new era of consumer engagement and interaction (Papasolomou, I., & Melanthiou, Y. ,2012). This evolution has prompted a critical examination of how consumers' purchasing behaviours diverge when under the sway of social media marketing in contrast to the more conventional methods.

  1. Responding to Social Media Marketing: Unveiling the Digital Engagement Landscape

Social Media Marketing (SMM) stands as a dynamic force that reshapes the consumer landscape (Papasolomou & Melanthiou, 2012). The interactive and real-time nature of social media platforms has redefined how consumers engage with brands, influencing their responses in multifaceted ways.

2.1 The Immediacy Factor:

One of the primary aspects that captivate consumers within the realm of SMM is immediacy. Social media platforms offer real-time updates and instant interactions, enabling brands to connect with their audience at the speed of a click (Lazor, 2014). This immediacy creates a sense of urgency and relevance, fostering a dynamic relationship between consumers and brands. As users scroll through their social feeds, the instant availability of information triggers an innate response mechanism, influencing their perception and receptivity to marketing stimuli.

2.2 Personalization in the Digital Space:

The personalization capabilities embedded in SMM platforms play a pivotal role in shaping consumer responses. The algorithms employed by these platforms curate content tailored to individual preferences, creating a highly personalized user experience (Si, 2015). This personalization not only enhances user satisfaction but also contributes to a deeper emotional connection with brands. Consumers feel seen and understood, fostering a sense of loyalty and receptiveness to marketing messages that align with their personal interests and preferences.

2.3 The Influence of Social Validation:

Social media's impact on shaping consumer responses extends beyond personalized content. The influence of social validation, characterized by likes, shares, and comments, introduces a social dimension to the consumer experience (Papasolomou & Melanthiou, 2012). The innate human tendency to seek approval and validation is leveraged by SMM, as users engage with content that is endorsed by their social circles. The presence of social validation serves as a powerful motivator, shaping consumer perceptions and influencing their decisions. The more a product or brand is positively validated within the digital space, the greater its impact on consumer responses.

2.4 The Psychological Dynamics of Digital Engagement:

Psychologically, the interactive and real-time nature of social media creates a continuous loop of stimulus and response (Lazor, 2014). The immediacy of feedback and the personalized nature of content contribute to a sense of co-creation, wherein consumers feel actively involved in shaping their digital experience. These participatory dynamic triggers positive emotions, fostering a sense of empowerment and satisfaction. The psychological reward associated with digital engagement becomes a driving force behind continued consumer interaction with SMM content.

2.5 Airbnb Case Study:

Initially, Airbnb faced challenges in gaining traction and resonating with its target audience. Nevertheless, by leveraging the capabilities of digital marketing, the company managed to initiate a significant transformation in the hospitality sector. Utilizing strategic search engine optimization (SEO), focused social media initiatives, and customized email marketing, Airbnb successfully established a worldwide network of hosts and guests. This evolution fundamentally altered the dynamics of travel and accommodation discovery for individuals. (Divyanshu Kashap,2023)

  1. Responding to Traditional Marketing: Establishing Tangible Connections Across Age Groups

Traditional Marketing Methods (TMM) continue to wield a unique influence, offering consumers a distinct and tangible experience that resonates on a deeper level. 

3.1 Tactile Experiences and the Power of Tangibility:

Traditional marketing methods, such as print advertisements and physical promotional materials, provide consumers with a tangible and tactile experience (Si, 2015). The act of holding a brochure, flipping through a magazine, or receiving a direct mail piece introduces a sensory element that digital platforms often lack. This tangible connection engages multiple senses, creating a memorable and impactful experience. Psychologically, the physicality of these interactions contributes to a heightened sense of authenticity and trust, as consumers perceive the brand's effort in crafting a tangible representation (Sivan-Rachel Portal ,2017).

3.2 Brand Longevity and Historical Significance:

Brand longevity plays a pivotal role in traditional marketing's ability to establish lasting connections with consumers (Zeithaml, 1988). Brands that have stood the test of time become embedded in collective cultural consciousness, conveying a sense of stability, reliability, and historical significance. The familiarity with a brand's enduring presence fosters trust, as consumers associate the brand with a legacy of quality and consistency. Psychologically, the longevity of a brand contributes to a positive perception, influencing consumers to place trust in a brand that has demonstrated resilience over time.

3.3 Tangible Connections Through Broadcast Media:

Broadcast media, including television and radio, represent traditional channels that forge tangible connections with consumers (Papasolomou & Melanthiou, 2012). The visual and auditory elements of television commercials, coupled with the emotional impact of storytelling, create a powerful engagement that resonates beyond the screen. Similarly, radio advertisements leverage the auditory sense to establish a connection through jingles, narratives, and memorable taglines. Psychologically, these mediums evoke emotions, enabling brands to build a connection with consumers on a visceral level.

3.4 Physical Events and In-Person Engagement:

Traditional marketing extends beyond the digital realm into physical events, such as trade shows, product launches, and experiential marketing initiatives (Mirzaei et al., 2012). These events provide consumers with opportunities for in-person engagement, allowing them to interact directly with the brand and its offerings. Psychologically, the face-to-face interactions foster trust by humanizing the brand and creating memorable experiences. Consumers perceive the effort and investment in physical events as a commitment to building authentic connections, contributing to brand loyalty.

3.5 Guinness’ Iconic “Surfer” Ad Case study: 

In 1999, Guinness introduced its iconic "Surfer" TV commercial, captivating a global audience. The advertisement portrayed a team of surfers patiently awaiting the ideal wave, symbolizing qualities of patience and commitment. The compelling narrative, coupled with the immersive nature of television, made a lasting impression on the audience. This example highlights the emotional resonance and widespread popularity that traditional marketing can attain. (Divyanshu Kashap,2023)

  1. Engaging Consumers: Creating Connections in the Digital and Physical Realms

As marketers navigate the complex landscape of Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Traditional Marketing Methods (TMM), understanding how these approaches engage consumers is pivotal. 

4.1 Behavioural Aspects of Online Interactions:

In the digital realm of SMM, consumer engagement is characterized by a myriad of online interactions (Papasolomou & Melanthiou, 2012). Social media platforms facilitate behaviours such as liking, sharing, commenting, and direct messaging, creating a dynamic and participatory environment. The behavioural aspects of online engagement are driven by the ease of interaction, allowing consumers to express their opinions, preferences, and affiliations with a brand in real-time. Psychologically, these behaviours fulfil the innate human need for social connection and self-expression, contributing to the formation of a digital community centred around the brand.

4.2 Behavioral Aspects of Offline Experiences:

Contrastingly, TMM engages consumers through tangible and physical experiences (Parikh, 2023). Offline interactions encompass in-person events, product demonstrations, and physical encounters with brand materials. These experiences prompt behaviours such as attending events, physically handling products, and participating in interactive displays. The behavioural aspects of offline engagement are rooted in sensory stimuli, creating memorable and visceral encounters. Psychologically, offline engagements tap into consumers' sensory and emotional responses, contributing to a more profound and enduring connection with the brand.

4.3 Cognitive Processes in Digital Engagement:

In the digital sphere, cognitive processes play a significant role in forming connections between consumers and brands (Si, 2015). The constant flow of information, coupled with the interactive nature of social media, triggers cognitive processes such as attention, perception, and memory. Consumers selectively attend to content that aligns with their interests, forming perceptions based on the visual and textual elements presented. The interactive nature of SMM prompts cognitive engagement, as users process information, make associations, and form brand impressions based on the digital stimuli they encounter.

4.4 Cognitive Processes in Traditional Marketing:

In TMM, cognitive processes unfold through a different lens (Zeithaml, 1988). Print materials, broadcast media, and physical events engage consumers through deliberate visual and auditory cues. Cognitive processes such as recognition, recall, and emotional association come into play as consumers process information presented through traditional marketing channels. The deliberate crafting of messaging, visuals, and narratives aims to evoke specific cognitive responses that contribute to brand recall and association over time.

  1. Making Purchasing Decisions: The Intersection of Trust, Reliance, and Support

5.1 Trust in Social Media Marketing:

Trust in SMM is a pivotal factor in shaping consumer decisions (Smith et al., 2019). The online nature of social media platforms prompts users to form perceptions based on a brand's digital presence. Trust is cultivated through consistent and positive interactions, authentic content, and transparent communication (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Psychological cues, such as genuine customer testimonials and interactive engagements, contribute to the development of trust. In the digital landscape, trust becomes an essential factor influencing purchasing decisions as consumers navigate a sea of options.

5.2 Trust in Traditional Marketing:

TMM relies on building trust through various avenues (Zeithaml, 1988). The longevity and historical significance of a brand, often conveyed through traditional channels, contribute to perceived reliability (Smith & Wheeler, 2002). Tangible experiences, such as physically handling products or attending events, play a role in forming trust. The deliberate crafting of brand messages in print and broadcast media aims to establish a trustworthy image. In TMM, trust emerges from the stability and consistency projected through various offline channels.

5.3 Reliance in Social Media Marketing:

Reliance on a brand in the digital age is shaped by the immediate and personalized nature of SMM (Hoffman & Fodor, 2010). Consumers come to rely on social media channels for real-time updates, customer support, and interactive engagement. The perception of a brand as responsive and attentive fosters reliance. The instantaneous nature of SMM allows for swift responses to consumer inquiries, contributing to a sense of dependability and reliance on the brand for information and support.

5.4 Reliance in Traditional Marketing:

TMM fosters reliance through enduring and tangible connections (Parikh, 2023). Consumers often rely on familiar and established brands, driven by a historical sense of satisfaction and consistency (Kumar, 2015). Traditional marketing channels instil a sense of reliability, with consumers depending on print, broadcast, and physical events as consistent sources of information. Reliance, in the context of TMM, is built on the stability and predictability associated with longstanding marketing practices.

5.5 Support in Consumer Decision-Making:

The concept of support intertwines with decision-making processes influenced by both SMM and TMM (Smith et al., 2019). In the digital realm, consumers seek support through online reviews, user-generated content, and direct interactions with brands. Positive online sentiments contribute to a sense of communal support, influencing the decision-making process. In TMM, support is often derived from a brand's physical presence at events, the accessibility of customer service, and the perception of a reliable support network that extends beyond the digital sphere.

5.6 Psychological Cues and Brand Perception:

Psychological cues play a pivotal role in shaping brand perception across both SMM and TMM (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). In SMM, visual and textual elements in online content evoke emotional responses, shaping how a brand is perceived. Traditional marketing channels leverage visual and auditory cues to craft a brand image that resonates with consumer emotions. The psychological resonance of marketing messages contributes to the overall brand perception, influencing the cognitive aspects of decision-making.

  1. Harmonizing Digital and Traditional Marketing for Holistic Consumer Impact:

The indispensable role of both SMM and TMM is underscored by multifaceted insights (Papasolomou & Melanthiou, 2012). The dichotomy between the immediacy and personalization of SMM and the enduring tangibility of TMM offers opportunities for marketers to connect with diverse audiences (Kumar, 2015). While SMM excels in real-time interactions and personalized experiences, TMM contributes through tactile engagements, brand longevity, and historical significance.

The need for a harmonized approach arises from recognizing that consumers are multifaceted individuals, each responding to distinct stimuli and experiences (Smith & Wheeler, 2002). By leveraging the strengths of both SMM and TMM, marketers can create a synergy that resonates across diverse age groups, fostering genuine connections that transcend the limitations of any singular approach. The immediacy of SMM complements the enduring impact of TMM, resulting in a comprehensive strategy that caters to the evolving expectations and preferences of the modern consumer.

In revisiting my thesis, which posited that traditional marketing is essential for creating genuine connections across all age groups despite the ubiquity of social media, I found a resounding validation in the varied consumer responses, engagements, and decision-making processes explored. Trust is established through historical significance and authenticity, reliance is built through consistent and tangible experiences, and support is garnered from a holistic brand presence that spans both digital and physical landscapes.

In essence, the synthesis of my findings reinforces the notion that a harmonized approach to marketing is not only beneficial but crucial for navigating the complexities of consumer behaviour in the modern landscape (Hoffman & Fodor, 2010). As marketers chart their course forward, they are encouraged to recognize the symbiotic relationship between SMM and TMM, leveraging the strengths of each to craft a narrative that resonates on a profound level with the diverse tapestry of consumers.


The methodology adopted for this research involved an exhaustive review of existing academic papers, articles, and relevant literature to gather comprehensive insights into the diverse influences of Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Traditional Marketing Methods (TMM) on consumers' purchasing behaviour.


In conclusion, the essence of my findings is to show that a harmonized approach, synthesizing the strengths of both SMM and TMM, is paramount for marketers seeking to make a lasting impact on diverse consumer groups. My analysis has showcased the immediacy and personalization inherent in SMM, juxtaposed with the enduring tangibility and historical significance of TMM. This understanding illuminates the need for a comprehensive strategy that navigates the complexities of consumer expectations and preferences. Although social media marketing effectively reaches a vast target audience due to internet ubiquity, traditional marketing remains indispensable. It is through traditional methods that genuine connections are forged across all age groups, fostering trust, reliance, and support that transcends the digital realm.

In contemplating the significance of my research, we recognize that the harmonization of SMM and TMM is not merely a strategic choice but a necessity in an evolving marketing landscape. Marketers are urged to orchestrate a narrative where digital and traditional instruments harmoniously contribute to the creation of a melodic and enduring brand experience. The relevance of my exploration extends beyond the confines of this essay, resonating with the broader imperative for marketers to adapt, synthesize, and create strategies that transcend the limitations of singular approaches.

As we draw the curtain on this analysis, it is evident that the confluence of SMM and TMM not only paints a vivid picture of consumer behaviour but also sets the stage for marketers to compose a narrative that speaks to the diverse and ever-changing symphony of consumer expectations in the modern era.


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