Social media has become an integrated part of everyday life, and the concept of social media and its relevance to effective marketing communication has gained much attention in the recent years. In recent innovation trends, social media has become a powerful and cost free approach to promote a product or brand to consumers. Nowadays, the beauty or cosmetic industry increasingly use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Skype, to give consumers a more actively engaging product experience. The beauty industry particularly uses social media to reach females, a majority of whom make up the bulk of the beauty products and services. The use of social media in the form of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and other online platforms for socializing is playing a very important role in shaping the behavior decision making process of consumers directly and indirectly. This paper aims to provide a research proposal into how beauty advertising on social media affects people.
A significant percentage of youth and adults are using social media for sharing their thoughts and views. In the Middle East, for example, where almost 50 percent of the population is under the age of 25, social media use has increased considerably (Patil, & Bhakkad, 2014). According to Gillespie, and Hennessey (2015), in the Gulf Region, users of social media platforms such as Facebook has tripled in only two years, and currently 90 percent of Internet users in the Middle East are on social media (p.489). Marketers, particularly those in the beauty/cosmetic industry, are taking advantage of the increasing use of social media platforms among populations to advertise their products and services to consumers (Ozuem, 2016).
Marketers of cosmetic products and services use social media to display images of an idealized beauty to consumers of their products and services. Many of the images in social media advertising provide potential consumers with examples of latest styles and perspectives on beauty and this may have an influence on individual perception of beauty. Beauty advertisement in social media depict physically appealing models and these may affect the self-confidence of consumers’ own attractiveness, especially when they compare their own body and facial image to those of the models depicted in social media advertisements. Most of the social media users who view beauty advertisements are unaware of the fact that the images of beauty portrayed in social media ads are representative of the perceptions of marketers in the cosmetic industry, who create and place the ads in social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, blogs, among others.
As Ensglish (2016) notes, social media marketers of beauty products and services only act as gatekeepers. The advertisements that they depict on social media platforms reflect their own implied theories of beauty. Moreover, the ads that these marketers exhibit on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other online platforms for socializing are only representative of the beliefs that they have about which types of beauty will appeal to the prospective audience. Nonetheless, social media users who view beauty advertisements are somewhat ignorant of this fact, and consequently, they possibly could allow the social media ads on beauty to influence their behavior and perception of their attractiveness. As such, there is need for a better understanding of how beauty advertisements on social media affect the behavior of social media users who view those ads.
Does beauty advertisements on social media affect or influence peoples’ self-confidence of their own attractiveness?
What behavioral consequences do beauty advertisements on social media have on people?
According to Ary, Jacobs, Sorensen, and Walker (2013), there are three different types of hypotheses that can be incorporated in a research study: a research hypothesis and two statistical hypotheses – alternative and null (p.100). This research study will be based on a research hypothesis, or at least two of them. Salkind (2010) states that a research hypothesis states the relationship that is expected to find as a result of the research, and it signifies the core of the study. It is a definite statement that there is a relationship between variables. The following are the research hypotheses that will be adopted in this research study:
Beauty advertisements on social media, which are based on perfectionistic and unrealistic views of what constitutes beauty, have an influence on people’s self-confidence of their own attractiveness.
Beauty advertisements on social media have negative behavioral consequences on people.
Objectives of the Research Study
The general objective of this research study is to develop a perspective on how beauty advertisements on social media affect people. Beauty advertisements on social media are defined herein as the campaigns, notices, or announcements in social media platforms, such as blogs, Facebooks, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and Instagram, promoting cosmetic products, services, or brands to consumers who are regular users of the social media platforms. The objective of the study is to provide a comprehensive review of Zayed University students’ opinions on beauty advertisements on social media and how the cosmetic ads on social media affect them. In particular, the specific objectives of this research study are as follows:
To provide an all-inclusive review of Zayed University students’ opinions on beauty advertising on social media
To provide a comprehensive evaluation of ZU students’ opinions on how beauty advertisements on social media influence their self-confidence of their own attractiveness.
To examine whether or not beauty advertisements on social media have negative behavioral consequences on students of Zayed University in Dubai, and consequently, on people in general.
Relevance of the Research Study
The findings and results of this research study will contribute to the existing literature on social media advertisements’ influence on people’s behavior. More specifically, the results of this study will add to the body of knowledge relating to beauty advertisements on social media and how they influence people’s personal perception of beauty. By helping to determine whether or not beauty advertisements on social media have an influence on people’s behavior, this research could also help in understanding the probability of using social media over the marketing context. In this regard, it will help cosmetic marketers to gain a better understanding of how social media advertising can influence consumer’s perceptions of their products and services, and accordingly, the consumers’ purchasing behavior. The study will also be valuable to social media users, particularly women, who are constant viewers of social media advertisements of beauty products and services. It will help this group of people to make informed decisions regarding the purchase of beauty products and services, and will help them develop a well-informed view and self-confidence of their own attractiveness.
Preliminary Literature Review
Almost half of the global population are now Internet users (Pike, 2015). Of this half, a significant percentage include of social media users, who have access to and constantly make use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Social media marketers have gained awareness of the increasing number of Internet users and constant visors of social networking sites. In response, the marketers have developed influential marketing strategies that they use on social media to influence customers to purchase their specific products and services. Marketers in the cosmetic/beauty industry have particularly assumed a leading role in using social media platforms to advertise beauty products and services to social media users and visitors of social networking sites. The result has been an increasing influence on people’s self-confidence of their own attractiveness and their behavior decision making process (Klein, 2013).
Numerous studies have examined the influence that social media advertising of beauty products and services have on people (Klein, 2013; Siibak, 2015; Ashikali, & Dittmar, 2012; Prieler, & Choi, 2014). The overreaching themes that those research studies have supported are that beauty advertisements in social media influence people’s self-confidence of attractiveness and personal perceptions of beauty. The studies also point out that through social comparison of the self and images depicted in beauty advertisements on social media, people, particularly women who are users of social media platforms and visitors of social networking sites, may develop negative body images (Klein, 2013; Siibak, 2015; Prieler, & Choi, 2014). This can result in a decrease in self-esteem among the women, thereby leading to risky behaviors such as eating disorders. Klein (2013), in particular, argues that the nature of beauty advertisements on social media results in a more extensive and harmful effect to the concern for body image of college-aged women who are users of social media platforms.
Images of women in beauty advertisements on social media affect the self-concepts of the women that view these images (Prieler, & Choi, 2014). Every day, women who visit social networking sites are bombarded with idealized images of what a woman who is physically good-looking should look like. The outcome has not been positive due to the numerous advertisements of beauty that appear daily as part of regular social media use and consumption. Studies indicate that because of these advertisements, women can develop a self-perceived negative image of their body and beauty (Klein, 2013; Siibak, 2015).
There are also research studies supporting the idea that women viewing social media advertisements of beauty are subjected to unrealistic standards of attractiveness that are hardly achievable through natural ways (Loria, 2015; Meng, & Pan, 2012; Bridgers, 2016). The social media environment is saturated with presentations of what a ‘beautiful’ woman’s body should be. “[Beauty] advertisements can consist of features of multiple women combined together to achieve the “perfect woman”” (Bridgers, 2016, p.1). Those standards of beauty are based upon images of models that rarely depict the average woman in any given region of the world. For instance, currently, in the U.S., the average woman weighs approximately 166 pounds and is 5’4 tall (Cloe, 2015). This means that women in beauty advertisements on social media are appearing to be skinner and taller than ever before – an indication that the appearance of women in social media beauty advertisements is contrary to the appearance of women in the real world.
Overall, the literature consulted in this preliminary literature review appear to support the hypotheses of this research study. Particularly, they advance the concept that beauty advertisements on social media, which are based on perfectionistic and unrealistic views of what constitutes beauty, have an influence on people’s self-confidence of their own attractiveness. The sources also support the idea that beauty advertisements on social media have negative behavioral consequences on people. A majority of the conclusions reached by the articles consulted in this preliminary literature review are based on experiential findings, which validates the information that the articles present. Nonetheless, some of the sources used in this text have a major shortcoming in that the ideas that they present are personal views of the authors, which are not grounded on experiential research studies.
The primary research method that will be made use of in this study is survey. Specifically, will utilize survey questionnaires to gather Zayed University students’ opinions on beauty advertising on social media, how beauty advertisements on social media influence their self-confidence of their own attractiveness, and whether or not beauty advertisements on social media have negative behavioral consequences. The survey instrument for this research study will take the form of self-administered questionnaires, which will contain questions about the topic of the study that respondents will fill out in the absence of the researcher. The survey approach has been chosen particularly because it is a fast and cost-efficient way to gather a lot of information about the attitudes, beliefs, opinions, and self-reported behaviors of the sample population. Self-administered questionnaires have been chosen because they can be easily distributed to a large population and often allow for anonymity (Mitchel, & Jolley, 2012). The primary weakness associated with this type of questionnaire (the inability of the researcher to correct arising problems in the questionnaires because there is no face-to-face interaction with participants) will be mitigated by having clear questions outlined within the questionnaires.
The sample population for the research study will comprise of Zayed University students. The size the sample population for the study will be randomly fixed so as to allow to collect and analyze data from respondents to reache a point of saturation. According to Whitley, and Kite (2012), saturation occurs when additional questionnaires or interviews no longer provide new information beyond what the researcher has obtained from previous questionnaires or interviews in the study. Once the data has been collected from the study participants, the opinions and views of the study respondents will be grouped in accordance with the research questions and hypotheses so as to draw a comprehensive conclusion.
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