When consumer-wise buying behaviors are examined, we often encounter the concept of opinion leader. Opinion leaders can be defined as persons or institutions that help convey various messages to different sections of society, raise awareness in them in this way, lead to behavioral or attitudinal changes or reinforce existing attitudes. When Gabriel Tarde, who attempts to explain social developments and changes based on the individual, first proposed “Social Imitation Theory” (Çebi, 2012, p. 4), it was hard to imagine that it could evolve into the concept of opinion leader, but as years have passed by, it has become inevitable that opinion leader should become an institution that both guides and explains individual and social developments. In a process where communication opportunities have become greatly advanced and the messages generated through these opportunities increased in the sense of both volume and sharing, it seems unavoidable that buying habits should undergo a change in form. Whether or not the influence of opinion leaders as a power that guides consumers in this process of change has grown independent of the face-to-face communication environment, and in the buying of what kind of new products the concept of “opinion leader” is effective constitute the fundamental problems of this study. The study will be conducted on young people who receive undergraduate education. An attempt will be made to understand the buying behaviors of young people for three different products falling in the categories of high involvement and low involvement, and the role of opinion leaders in the formation of these behaviors.
Keywords: Social Imitation, Opinion Leaders, Buying Behaviors, Consumption Habits