Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Textiles, Apparel and Merchandising Design

Document Type



Social media is being used as platforms for viral marketing. Although there is some evidence on the usefulness of viral marketing from the marketers’ perspective, little is known about the motivations, attitudes, and behaviors of consumers engaged in this marketing instrument. As the social media platform continues to grow, understanding the characteristics and motivations of key players is invaluable for marketers and communicators who deal with message strategy and media outreach. Fashion companies have noticed this change and want to be present in the social media in different ways. This research represents a comprehensive attempt to examine the factors that impact on consumer usage of social media and their behavioral intentions to forward fashion viral messages by developing an attitudinal model that integrated uses and gratification theory and elaboration likelihood model; proposing that the relationship is moderated by individual dynamic traits, message traits and consumer fashion traits. Empirical data was collected from a convenience sample of 381 college students in two southeastern universities via an online survey. Validity and reliability of research scales were assessed. Hypothesized relationships and moderating effects were tested using two-step structural equation modeling approach. Within the general model the findings show that individuals will forward a fashion viral message if they have stronger favorable utilitarian and value-expressive attitudes towards the message. Motivations did not significantly impact attitudes of the consumer with an exception of the dimension of interpersonal utility that impacts individual’s value expressive attitude. The results of moderating variables indicate that message traits (functional and experiential oriented) impact consumers’ utilitarian and value-expressive attitudes. In relation to consumer fashion traits, there was no significant difference among consumers with high or low fashion leadership and those with high or low fashion involvement. Individual dynamics traits (viral dynamics and structural social capital) showed some moderating effects on the relationships between motivations and attitudes toward a social media marketing message. The results add to existing literature related to viral marketing and validate the claim that viral marketing can be used for marketing purposes resulting in increased business for firms. Theoretical and practical implications were provided based on research findings.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Liu, Chuanlan