The concept of social support, acquiring resources such as companionship, emotion and other related information in the consumption process, was firstly reported in the 1970s. Since the 1990s, the research on social support has entered into the marketing sector, appearing other concerning concepts like commercial social support and market-based social support. After reviewing the existing literature, this paper concludes three perspectives defined by predecessors, namely functional perspective, social resource perspective and human relationship perspective. Based on different criteria, social support can be classified diversely. On the basis of different subjects, social support concerning consumer behavior can be divided into social support from customers, enterprises, and relatives & friends. Based on different nature, social support is divided into instrumental social support and emotional one. On account of its visibility, social support can be also classified tangibly and intangibly. Social support is a multi-dimension structure. For example, we can understand it in five dimensions. They are daily emotional support, problem-oriented emotional support, companionship, daily instrumental support, and problem-oriented instrumental support. Along with the advancement of online media and e-commerce, information support is increasingly crucial. Influenced by the present consumption, social support is no more than a transitive benefit of stereotype starting from the providers but ending up as the recipients. We prefer to view social support as a way to show the character of the mutual relationship and emotion, which can be found between the customers and their friends and relatives, between the enterprises and their customers, between the service personnel and the customers, and even between a customer and other customers. With an essential value of marketing, social support not only can benefit consumers a lot, but also assist companies to achieve satisfying marketing success. First, social support has a positive effect on the psychological and physical health of consumers. In the fields of sociology and psychology, the buffer effect of social support on stress and anxiety and its promotion to individual health have been firmly confirmed. Second, in the purchase process, consumers’ decision-making and actual behavior can be influenced by social support. Finally, social support does affect consumers’ attitudes as well as their service experience. Moreover, the most direct impact of social support on the business can be noticed first in the improvement of corporations’ sales performance, which includes the increase in both frequent purchases and consumption spending. No matter how much social support consumers gain, there is always an impact on how often consumers shop. Consumption has some particular symbolic meanings, helping some consumers to flaunt their status and portray their successful images. While social support can provide resources such as information, emotions and materials, consumers without social support or with less social support are forced to shop more frequently so that they can get rid of the negative emotions caused by the lack of resources provided by social support. Otherwise, consumers with higher social support have gained more satisfaction due to more information and emotional support. Therefore, these consumers are more willing to consume. Through theoretical review and literature review, we conclude that in the field of marketing, although certain achievements have been made in the research of social support, there is still some gap between related and mature theories. Thus, there is still much room for exploration and expansion in the future. From the perspective of social support, this paper elaborates several parts of social support, including its definition, classification and measurement, the influential results and mechanisms as well as the coping strategies. Besides, it has also reviewed the relevant research at home and abroad. And on this basis, the directions in future research have been pointed out.
A Literature Review of Social Support in Marketing and Prospects
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 01, pp. 18 - 32 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.01.002
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Cite this article
Luo Ziwei, Chen Siyun. A Literature Review of Social Support in Marketing and Prospects[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(1): 18–32.