This research has two main objectives that include provision of a synopsis of customer socialization and the function of interpersonal communication in the progression. The second function is to provide a description of how a scale that can measure interpersonal communication between socialization agents within a shopping channel can be developed. Hence, according to Lueg and Finney (2007), the central research question of this study is, “What is the role of interpersonal communication in the socialization processes to influence a developing customer’s decisions about which shopping channel to use?”
Previous studies on the position of interpersonal communication in consumer socialization have focused on how people discover to be buyers. A past study by Moschis and Churchill determined that socialization processes influenced the components of behavior. Consequently, they determined that the relations between a learner and instruments of socialization in certain shopping settings affected consumer behavior. Moschis and Churchill used a model that consisted of age of the agents, societal structure restraints facing the learners, the cause of control, the kind of educational processes and components of behavior (Moschis & Churchill, 1978). Additionally, previous studies found that peers and family are critical socialization agents that influence consumer behavior (Lueg & Finney, 2007).
Past investigations also found that modeling, social relations and reinforcements are education processes that affected consumer behavior. Modeling engages replication while reinforcement involves the use of rewards and punishment to influence behavior. This study considers the delivery of reinforcement via verbal communication. Communication with family and peers influences adolescents’ buying decisions (Moschis & Churchill, 1978). However, many previous studies do not provide the scale objects used. Moreover, they did not separate and investigate the roles played by modeling and reinforcement in consumer socialization process. Modeling and reinforcement by socialization agents during learning processes can affect consumer behavior. Hence, there is a gap in knowledge regarding consumer socialization and the function of interpersonal communication in the progression.
The study included participants drawn from four secondary schools in a medium-sized town in the United States of America. One school was privately managed while the rest were public schools. A total of 1258 students was included as respondents. The only qualification to be included as respondent was to be a high school student in any of the four schools. A convenience sample was used to pretest the survey. The convenience sample constituted 172 students. In the main study, survey questionnaires were used to collect information. A sum of 1401 questionnaires was administered. However, 143 questionnaires were discarded due to various reasons. 53.7% of the respondents were females while males constituted 46.3% (Lueg & Finney, 2007).
Additionally, 24.6%, 28.2%, 22.6% and 24.6% of the respondents were in ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades respectively. Moreover, 9.7%, 25.1%, 25.9%, 25.6%, 12.3% and 1.2% of the respondents were aged 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 years old respectively. Caucasians and African Americans constituted 65.3% and 29.2% of the respondents respectively. On the other hand, Hispanic Americans constituted 1.4% while Asian Americans comprised 2.1% of the respondents (Lueg & Finney, 2007). The variables examined in the study include peer and family communication about shopping malls and the internet. The process involved administration of questionnaires during school time. The questionnaires were administered over a period of six weeks in the classrooms.
The study found that the method used could not capture communication modeling. Thus, it is consistent with the idea that cross-sectional study design is not appropriate in capturing communication modeling and reinforcement. The research question was answered through the analysis of the intensity of interpersonal communication between agents and respondents. Regression models were used to examine the reliability of communication scales developed.
The major shortcoming of the study is that the respondents were from a single district. Additionally, they were secondary school students who are likely to provide manufactured or false responses. Finally, the use of the word “relative” and not “family” may have confused some respondents. Nevertheless, the scales developed by the study are dependable. On the other hand, future studies should provide accurate ways of developing scales that precisely separate modeling and reinforcement in education processes. Finally, future studies should unite market mavens’ knowledge with the buyer's socialization viewpoint to establish the influence of opinion leaders in consumer development (Lueg & Finney, 2007).