Mobile apps usage by Malaysian business undergraduates and postgraduates: Implications for consumer behaviour theory and marketing practice

Stephen Carter*, Amy Chu May Yeo

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    48 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – This qualitative, exploratory study uses constructs from the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) and construct variables from literature, as a basis to ascertain similarities and differences in the behaviour by business undergraduates (UGs) and postgraduates (PGs) of mobile apps and the purpose of this paper is to suggest implications for consumer behaviour theory and marketing practice for the two groups of students. Design/methodology/approach – Literature informed us of the paucity of research on the relationship between behavioural theory and mobile apps usage in the Asia region. An exploratory and interpretivist approach, with thematic analysis, was employed to aid in data processing. Findings – The investigative outcomes highlighted more similarities than dissimilarities in terms of perceived attitude (e.g. mood, ethical guilt, familiarity, addiction) and more differences in perceived subjective norms (e.g. family, friends, classmates and teammates) and perceived users’ behavioural control (e.g. promotional inducements, self-confidence) towards the usage of mobile apps exhibited by two different sets of data. Research limitations/implications – Homogeneity of participants, small sample size and generalisability of results were the main concern, hence, it warrants further research. In addition a cross-cultural comparison would be beneficial which might generate more meaningful results. Practical implications – The research, albeit exploratory, serves as a guide for marketers and apps content providers to focus on usability of features and functions of apps as well as credibility, social context, timing, location, excitement of advertisements and promotional messages especially when marketing to the 18-30-age group. The research also shows that practitioners should be nuanced in their appeals to UGs and PGs. Originality/value – Despite the provision of numerous mobile apps, this study, using the constructs of the TPB as a basis, offers a new insight into the reasons for, and usage of, specific and top popular apps (e.g. FB, Whatsapps and WeChat) Malaysian students used which reflects a varied behavioural dimension as opposed to planned behaviour.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)733-757
    Number of pages25
    JournalInternet Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Consumer behaviour
    • Exploratory research
    • Malaysian undergraduates and postgraduates
    • Marketing
    • Mobile apps
    • Theory of planned behaviour

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Communication
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Economics and Econometrics


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