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Effects of TikTok Advertising on Cameroonian Youths Purchasing Decisions: A Survey of TikTok Users in Buea

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TikTok has become one of the fastest growing social media applications in the world today, and is pulling a huge number of subscribers from older apps such as Facebook due to its constant stream of exciting and entertainment content. As the saying goes, where the crowd goes, advertisers follow. Advertisers have also been looking at how to penetrate audiences best, especially young people, who are the highest users of social media. However, given that TikTok is built mostly for entertainment, business ventures, including advertising may not be taken seriously on the platform. This study aimed to find out the extent to which TikTok advertising motivates youths in Cameroon to purchase goods or services. Specifically, the study sought to: determine if advertising on TikTok had a total influence on consumer purchase decision, to examine other factors that influence Cameroon youths’ purchase decisions aside TikTok advertising and to find out the extent to which youths purchase good advertised on TikTok. The researcher used quantitative research design and survey as research method. A questionnaire was used to evaluate the views of 180 TikTok users between the age of 15 to 35 years, who live in Buea. This sample was selected purposively because they are TikTok users and questionnaires were administered to them accidentally. Results from this research reveal that youths are partially exposed to advertising content on TikTok but they hardly purchase any goods and services advertised on the platform. For example more respondents said they use TikTok to obtain news and entertainment gists, gain inspiration and learn new things, than they use it to purchase goods and services. The major recommendations from this study is that advertisers on TikTok should use more indirect means of advertising, rather than straight pop-up adverts. They should make use of influencers and celebrities in TikTok advertising in order to capture youths’ interest. Also, TikTok remains a fertile ground for advertisers to target youths, but advertising should be entertaining.



1.0 Introduction

This chapter is concern with providing the introductory materials into this study. These constitute of the research background, the problem statement, the research questions and objectives, significance and scope of the study. The chapter will be structured in the chronology of subtopics as outlined above, beginning with the background of the study.

1.1 Background of the Study

The buying and selling of goods and services has long taken a different twist with the advent of the Internet and electronic commerce. Technological advancement has ushered in social media, which has become a prominent tool used by advertisers to sell their goods and services. Social media has become an effective tool used by both small and large enterprises to attain their business goals (Watchami, Ngange & Efosi, 2020). Businesses have been using social media advertising to build brand image of their products and maintain a relationship with their customers (Darmatama & Erdiansyah, 2021). Social media advertising has also provided consumers with a variety of goods and services from which they can choose, providing them with more variety that they can get through conventional advertising. Many business today strive to be online because of the cost-effectiveness of online advertising and the high chances of targeted marketing and easier consumer research.

As such, social media advertising has gained grounds tremendously, with platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp playing key roles. Eid and Ward (2009) described the social media as an information superhighway where millions of people around the world create networks, build online local, regional and global communities to communicate their shared interests and disseminate information. Business have exploited social media build their brands and relate with their audiences.

The growth of social media has impacted the way organizations communicate and relate with their audiences and customers. Corruthers (2010) in Okocha, Patrick, and Odeba (2022)  noted that social media has introduced integrated marketing communication which combines elements like advertising, personal selling, public relations, publicity, direct marketing and sales promotion. Through this, organisations have been able to build their brands more easily and quickly converse with their customers.

Social media use in Cameroon has been growing since the Internet was introduced in the early 2000 (Defyhatenow, 2020). In January 2022, Cameroon had 4.55 million social media users, making up 16.5 percent of the total population (Datareportal, 2022). Between 2021 and 2022, the number of social media users increased by 5.8 percent (250,000). Prominent social media platforms include Facebook (4.10 million users); Instagram (613,000 users); Facebook Messenger (789,4OO users); LinkedIn (820,000 users) and Twitter (145,300 users) (Datareportal, 2022).

These platforms are used for social interaction, promote shared values through the building of communities and to market products. Watchami, Ngange and Efosi (2020) found that social media marketing was helping small businesses in Buea, Southwest Region, to build brand awareness, customer relationships and reinforcing sales. They also noted that the benefit of social media marketing far outweighed the cost for small businesses than conventional advertising. However, the authors argued that social media marketing was still to gain the trust and confidence of small business persons in Cameroon, some of which had not adopted it.

TikTok is a relatively new social media platform in Cameroon given that it was launched in 2018 after many of the popular social media platforms were already present in the market. However, it is gaining grounds very fast, although its impact in Cameron has not been ascertained. In a 2020 study on TikTok users in Cameroon, Kamdem (2020) as cited in Berdiieva and Goroshiko (2022), found out that 45 percent of those surveyed in Douala and Yaounde had only been on TikTok for only two to three months at the time the study was being conducted. He also realised that TikTok is used mostly by young people with 65% of respondents aged between 25 – 35 years.

TikTok is relatively less popular than other social media platforms. However, it has the potential for growth and popularity especially among young people (Berdiieva & Goroshiko, 2022). TikTok is being seen as an invaluable app. The platform is reaching over 2.5 billion users in the world who have subscribed to it. The potential of this platform for business is therefore promising. As a short video platform, TikTok offers users the opportunity to produce creative, entertaining, high quality and addictive content, since videos must not exceed 15 seconds.

TikTok is already influencing its users around the world.  In the area of marketing, TikTok is still maturing (DSouza, 2022). The platform provides business and companies the chance to create personalised feeds. Unlike conventional advertising, where the product’s superior qualities are highlighted to gain customers, advertising on TikTok capitalises on the virality of a post to sell products. As such ads must be ligh, fun and entertaining, with a merger of music to capture audiences. One of the most successful marketing campaigns on TikTok has been the Halloween “Boorito” coupon giveaway campaign run by Chipotle restaurant (USA) to encourage viewers to dress up for holiday and post their images. The campaign got four billion views. Others like the online reality show called eyelipsface got 9.4 billion clicks (Investopedia, 2022).

However, some studies on the effect of TikTok advertising have found that it only has a partial effect on people’s purchasing decision. A survey conducted by Darmatama & Erdiansyah (2021) on youths in Indonesia found out that TikTok advertising partially had a significant effect on consumer purchasing decision. 

Moreover, recent studies on social media advertising are concerned about the credibility of social media adverts in terms of giving accurate information about a product being advertised. Okocha, Patrick and Odeba (2022) averred that a majority of advertisements on social media platforms are deceptive. They noted that social media advertisers use adverts to trick audiences into patronizing their products or services when in real life the products do not reflect their choices.  This might be an eye opener as to the effect of TikTok advertising on the shopping behaviours of people. This is because TikTok advertising turns to neglect product quality features and rather focuses on getting the product go viral through by hyping the entertainment component of videos. This might pose a problem with online buyers who might be moved by virality rather than quality. Also, given the limited research that exists on TikTok use in Cameroon and its influence on users, it will be interesting to find out how TikTok influences people’s decision making process in the buying of goods and services online.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

TikTok is increasingly gaining grounds as one of the most popular social media platforms among youths in Cameroon, but very little is known about how ads on this platform affect people’s purchasing decision. It is important to understand the factors in TikTok advertising that affect people’s decision making process in the buying of goods and services. For example factors like the informative nature of TikTok videos, interactivity, entertainment and use of celebrities in videos could have a significant influence on viewers’ shopping behavior. It will be interesting to not just know the effect TikTok advertising has on youths’ shopping behavior, but also to find out how. Online ads have been seen to be vital in branding and shaping how consumers decide on what good or service they want to purchase and how to purchase them at a particular time.

TikTok has become a revolutionary medium for social interaction, especially among young people between the ages of 12 to 30 years, providing them with a wide spectrum of infotainment. Sometimes, companies and small business produce eye catching videos on TikTok, which they mask in the form of entertainment, to sell their products. Generally more research has been conducted on how youths use TikTok for entertainment and information purposes, but the business influence of the platform cannot be neglected, given that advertisers go where the population goes.

It is therefore possible for content on TikTok to redirect users’ shopping preferences based on what is being portrayed as trending, entertaining or informative. Many youths want to identify with TikTok and with the content posted on it. Advertisers have no doubt been exploiting this opportunity. It is therefore important to measure how users are influenced by TikTok advertising in the process of deciding on which good or services they want to buy. This could help inform advertisers on how to effectively target TikTok users in designing their adverts.

1.3 Research Questions

1.3.1 General Research Question

To what extent does TikTok advertising influence the purchasing decisions of youths?

1.3.2 Specific Research Questions

  1. What influence does advertising on TikTok have on consumers’ purchase decision?
  2. What other factors influence Cameroon youths’ purchase decisions aside TikTok advertising?
  3. To what extent do youths purchase good advertised on TikTok?
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