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Impact of Social Media in Modern Business Strategies

Chapter 1: Introduction
Background of the Study

In the present times, social media marketing is considered to be the modern and innovative manner of performing the business basically in service marketing. It is because marketers move from one strategy to another strategy, thereby referring to versatile driven kinds of extension of neighborhood sections to web crawler results to another, looking for the suitable types of an innovative approach for enhancing the brand's health. It can be revealed that social media capabilities are considered to be the initiation of the platforms named YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Pinterest (Sayabek & et al., 2021). It has become a modern method as huge information is shared via social media. It can be revealed that modern-day consumers, such as millennials, are making use of online tools to share their opinion regarding a particular product and services that are consumed by them. One of the main challenges has been that for many years the marketers are more focused on the collection rather than connection (Stern & Stafford, 2016). Marketers are focusing on possessing more fans and have forgotten the most essential part that has been to associate with the fans and thus develop a loyal customer base of social media fans owned by them. The marketers do not remember that social media might be utilized as a marketing strategy that impacts consumer purchase decisions. Most of the researchers have demonstrated the fact that the companies are making use of social media to lure more customers or to chase the level of customers away from the offerings of the company, revealing that a company is capable of making or breaking its image using social media that has been made available to the customers (Chivandi & et al., 2020). Through social media, there has been an increment in the consumption of service marketing because of the coverage and impact on consumers belonging to distinct age groups and lifestyles according to their affordability and consumer behavioral patterns. It is online life that makes use of minimal tools that can be used for consolidating innovation as well as social collaboration through the use of the words. Such devices are considered to be web or versatile-based. Few firms have made use of social media innovation, such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. It offers advertisers the capability to speak with companies, potential customers, and clients. It tends to customize the brand and thus stimulate the advertisers to spread the company's message loosely and traditionally (Sonwaney & Chincholkar, 2020). The decision-making method tends to be impacted by different external factors that affect the plans, and the other environmental factors are social class, family, situation, culture, and personal influence. It is ecological factors that impact the consumer decision-making methods because it tends to form the consumer's effect from the initial stage of information search because they act as a source of information that would have an impact over the decision-making method (Tauber, 2021).

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Aims and Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study has been to ascertain the impact of social media to alter the customer's behavior for Next Plc in the retail sector.

In light of this research aims, there are different objectives also that has been demonstrated below

  • To increase understanding regarding social media utilized in the retail sector.
  • To ascertain platforms of social media that assist in increasing the customer base towards Next Plc.
  • To explore the factors that lead to alteration in the customer's behavior towards a particular brand.
  • To assess the association between the use of social media as well as customer behavior

Importance of the Study

The rationale behind the study has been to comprehend how effective social media marketing can be and how it impacts customer behavior. It can be revealed that through this meticulous research, different platforms of social media that shall assist in raising the number of customers can be identified. It becomes essential to do so because by doing so, the company is capable of attaining its objective effectively. Understanding how the customer behaves helps in increasing the sale of the company, which in turn raises the level of profits in the company.

Structure of the study

The first chapter of the study tries to determine the background of the research and offers a proper understanding of the study's objectives. In the second chapter, i.e., literature review, where the researcher gives literature on the topic from literary sources to attain the objectives of the study. The third chapter of the study is a research methodology, where the researcher would try to state in clear terms how the research would be conducted. In the fourth chapter, the findings of the study would be demonstrated. The fifth chapter, where a detailed discussion about the results of the research and objectives attained would be analyzed. The last chapter of the study concludes, where the summary of the entire investigation would be demonstrated.

Chapter 2: Literature review

2.1. Role of Social Media on Retail Sector

According to the views of Craig (2017), it has been noted that the use of the internet has been quite profound in the present times. The term social web has been utilized more often recently to mean a new trend in the design and utilization of the web pages where the user is considered to be the center of information along with the content creator. As mentioned by Constantinides, Lorenzo & Gómez (2018), the concept has been perceived as a philosophy, an attitude as well as new methods of performing a particular thing that took place because of the evolution of technology itself. It has permitted Internet users to become creators and producers that were merely remaining the consumers. Consumers are found to play a significant role in their association with businesses because they possess more information regarding competitive products and can also express their views publicly over social media. It, therefore, becomes quite imperative for the companies to demonstrate massive effort to administer the information that the customers are spreading as well as receiving regarding their market offering. It is well identified by Granka (2019) that social media tends to improve brand awareness, trust as well a reputation. This component helps the organization to escalate the sales and thus helps in creating a community of online advocates basically for the business. Retailers must possess social media presence because it might significantly impact their decision-making method. Effective social media marketing tends to be all about socializing, involving, and demonstrating actual value to the customers. It can be identified as a two-way communication method where real people make conversation, inspire, connect and apply with one another regularly. The retailers need to comprehend the factors that motivate people to share and involve online. It will assist them in effectively planning the social media strategy. Similar to a large environment, it has been identified that this free environment has permitted numerous individuals as well as enterprises in retail sectors to develop products together, to join with other consumers for social and commercial purposes. This kind of innovation leads to creating new and dynamic business models that are featured by the individuals possessing a unique role to play.

Yu (2011) states the fact that Facebook is considered to be one of the biggest social networking sites that tend to implement a feature permitting the companies to develop a fan page regarding the product and brand. As per the views of Zhao & et al. (2018), it has been noted that it leads to an opportunity for the retailers to make use of social networks to create brand awareness, foster virility, and share information, enhances e-reputation, involves and learn regarding the people who are interested in the brand, attains feedback over their product, creates contact with a new client, conduct market research for understanding the competitors and collect information over the new product as well as technologies.

It can be revealed that retail, social media strategy is quite essential to escalating the in-store as well as online sales, for developing association with the customers, developing the brand, and enhancing the share of customer's spending. The advantages of social media for retail business increase when the number of users is taken into consideration. According to studies, it has been identified that retail, social media trends tend to demonstrate how shoppers lean towards involving and learning regarding a brand utilizing a preferred media platform. It is essential to comprehend how social media marketing tends to drive sales for retail stores. In social media for retail stores, it becomes pretty imperative to understand different factors.

2.2. Developing Brand Loyalty

Similar to other consumers, the retailers tend to possess their brand preferences and loyalties. It can be revealed that the target audience would prefer one platform over another one since the company is being present in day-to-day activities such as advertising a sale, highlighting of new stock, sharing of a new initiative, which leads to an increase in brand loyalty. Under such cases, it is noted that the company tends to emphasize brand values.

2.2.1. Connect with the Advocates or Influencers for the brand

As mentioned by Kim & Ko (2012), it has been noted that influencers are considered to be another set of motivators in social media strategy for retail. In the online format, it is deemed to be word-of-mouth recommendations. The most well-identified social-media hubs basically for the influencers are Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. It is noted that the audience tends to trust the influencers and make use of their suggestions when they opt for the new purchase. Hence, they are considered beneficial for the company.

2.2.2. Valuable Direct Traffic for a Website

As per Lipsman & Et. Al., (2012) the central notion behind retail, social media marketing has been that the retailers tend to funnel traffic for the website, thereby offering the target audience the best method to reach different pages from product to blogs to sales. The best part is that retailers interact with such customers on a platform that they visit daily, and thus retailers are increasing their exposure to the brand. It is considered as an excellent method in case a new store is being promoted.

2.3. Platforms of Social Media for Increasing Customer's Base

It can be revealed by Xie & Lee (2015) that in the present economy, the social currency tends to be assessed by likes, views, and shares. While the consumers are found to be making use of the social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for a long time, business owners are found to determine the advantages of the accumulation of likes and shares and how it can positively impact brand awareness. The rising of the customer base through social media marketing tends to begin with choosing the suitable types of social platforms for the organization. It is significant to comprehend the target audiences for the business and the kinds of social media that they involve with to assist retailers in increasing the conversion rates to a great extent. As mentioned by Smith (2009), after having chosen the social media platform, it becomes imperative for the retailers to take benefits of the unique advertising and communication opportunities that the platform tends to offer. By creating highly targeted ads over Facebook, retailers can quickly generate the target audience's attention at a minimal cost. Facebook is considered to be one of the most powerful platforms that shall permit the retailers to focus their ads over specific demographics, interest categories, and geographic locations that would match with the consumers likely to buy the products and services. According to Shrout & Bolger (2012), there are different advertising objectives in Facebook, allowing the retailers to set up ad campaigns to drive traffic towards the website. In case the companies want to generate B2B leads, they can make use of LinkedIn. Most of the business owners, as well as professionals, are found to making use of this particular social media site. Hence, it can be considered to be the most preferred choice for developing qualified leads. Through LinkedIn, companies are capable of communicating directly with the professionals regarding the product by involving organic as well as sponsored content. LinkedIn possesses a robust content strategy. As revealed by Punj (2018), leaders in the industry tend to develop successful campaigns around content generation. Leaders are found to connect with their target audiences utilizing affinity groups.

As per the views of Kimmel & Kitchen (2014), Twitter can be considered a perfect platform for a witty, short, and catchy copy that shall attract customer's attention. Twitter cards are considered to be lead generation tools that work similarly to the Facebook ad. However, through Twitter, retailers can incorporate more personalized multi-media content that is likely to increase the readers' interest and curiosity. Through Twitter, companies can easily involve consumers. Brand managers need to administer and jump into the conversation to respond to consumers' Tweets. It has been mentioned by Leader-Chivée, Hamilton & Cowan (2018) that associating with consumers in real-time using Twitter will lead to more traffic over the webpage and would also lead to rising in the sales volume for the company. It is a well-known fact that businesses belonging to all shapes and sizes are likely to attain an advantage from the social media marketing team who tends to help the companies generate an increased level of sales. It can be revealed that social media is an excellent method to interact with the customer base. It permits the retailers to address the issues quickly, which shall not only make customers happy but would also help them to save money. Retailers can use different social media channels to offer customers the freedom to elect their preferred kind of contact. As per Vijayasarathy (2019), it has been noted that YouTube is considered to be a great tool that shall assist retailers in promoting the business. Making use of this particular method can help in reaching a broad audience. This method can be used to publish manuals and other contents that can be utilized to resolve problems reported by consumers.

2.4. Factors That Have to Alter Customer's Behaviour in Brand

As mentioned by Yang & Et. Al. (2010) different factors tend to affect consumer behavior. It is noted that these factors tend to shape the behavior of consumers. Because of the impact of other factors, consumers are found to react or respond to the marketing program differently. Few factors prove to be quite effective, while others possess a negligible impact on the behavior of consumers.

Cultural factors

According to Solis (2019), cultural factors tend to impact consumer behavior profoundly. Such factors tend to comprise of culture, sub-culture, and culture belonging to social classes.

Broad culture

Saffu & Et. Al. (2019) states the fact that culture is considered to be one of the primary determinants of needs and wants. It is identified as a method of living, doing, and ways of worshipping. It can be revealed that culture tends to ascertain the entire platter of life. Culture tends to be demonstrated in following such a role of women, family life, woman education, and approach to work and leisure.

Subcultures

It comprises smaller subcultures, and they tend to offer specific determination of the members belonging to it. The subcultures include nationality, religion, racial groups, and geographical groups.

Social Factors

As per Lorenzo-Romero & Et. Al., (2019) social factors are found to impact consumer behavior. The consumer response towards products, company, and brands is affected by different social factors such as family, roe and statuses, and reference groups. It becomes essential for marketers to evaluate such social characteristics of the target market for effectively catering to the needs. Some social factors are described in brief below:

Family

It is considered to be the most potent social factor that tends to impact consumer behavior. Values, preferences, and traditions are transmitted basically from parent to child inherently. Need, buying patterns, consumption rate, and other factors that are determined by the family impacts the behavior of an individual. In each family, husband-wife, children, elders, and other members tend to possess a different degree of influence over the purchase decision. Few products are children dominant while other products are husband chief, and some are equally prevalent (Flavián &et al., 2019).

Roles and statuses

It is noted that the person tends to play a significant role all through his life. Each part carries status. People are found to choose the product and services that demonstrate their position and level in society. Hence, a marketer needs to be aware of the status symbol potential of products and brands. It becomes essential for marketers to link products and brands with roles and status (Grant, Clarke & Kyriazis, 2017).

Income Level

Income tends to impact the needs as well as wants of consumers. There is an alteration in the preference of rich and poor consumers. When quality is taken into consideration, then there is a vast difference between rich and poor consumers. It becomes essential for marketers to be aware of regarding income group of a target market.

Personal Factors

Personal factors impact the buying decision and are associated with the buyer itself. Such elements would comprise age and stage in the life cycle, personality, self-concept, and occupation.

Psychological Factors

It is to be noted by Ashman, Solomon & Wolny (2015) that buying behavior tends to be impacted by distinct psychological factors. Some of them comprise learning, beliefs and attitudes, perception, and motivation. It becomes difficult to assess the impact of psychological factors because they are internal and powerful in monitoring persons' buying choices. It becomes essential for managers to comprehend the potential roles of factors in making a buying decision.

2.5. Social Media and Consumer Behaviour

It is noted by Schwartz & Et. Al. (2019) that there is a significant impact of social media over consumer behavior. Consumers tend to use social media as they can possess immediate access to the information at their convenience. It helps them decide what they are supposed to purchase and understand more regarding the new products and services. Online consumer reviews tend to demonstrate casual impact over product choice and purchase behavior basically by consumers. It can be revealed that social media have led to a participatory culture where the users are found to associate themselves with like-minded individuals to involve in an eternal loop where information is shared, opinions are requested, and updates are monitored over all kinds of information. The quality of product review, along with perceived informativeness and persuasiveness and quantity of reviews, has a positive impact on consumers' purchase intention. According to Solis (2019) that social media is a trustworthy source of information in comparison to corporate communication and advertisements. There is a feeling of mistrust towards mainstream media. Hence, consumers are found to move away from traditional media such as magazines, television, and newspaper as the source to help them in making a purchase. Information overload can be identified as the main problem in online decision making, and it is social media with colossal information, thereby leading to a state of analysis paralysis and making it difficult to navigate the required information.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

3.1. Introduction

In this particular chapter of the research study, the focus has been mainly on analyzing the methods that have been selected in the process of conducting this research work. It is important to note that proper selection of methods is vital in order to get the desired result for any research work. This chapter will further comprise of research approach, research philosophy, data collection, data analysis, along with ethical considerations, among others.

3.2. Research Philosophy

Research studies primarily involve a set of philosophical assumptions that further sets the criteria for the selection of appropriate methods along with other tools and techniques altogether. The research of Saunders et al. (2009) has determined that, in general, two primary forms of philosophies are considered in research studies which comprise positivism philosophy and interpretivism research philosophy. Positivist research includes a scientific inquiry and can be rigid (Saunders et al., 2009). In this particular research, positivism philosophy has been regarded to be appropriate for the execution of the overall process as the study is quantitative at large (Bajpai, 2011). Choosing positivism philosophy will allow the research to attain a justified position to get robust and accurate findings, further depicting a broader picture of the research issue in concern.

3.3. Research Approach

In order to collect the correct form of data and information in a research investigation, proper consideration of the research approach is critical. The study of Easterby-Smith et al. (2008) has depicted that research approaches can be of two forms which comprise of deductive and inductive research approaches. The reasoned research approach primarily includes quantitative methods and is best suited to be conducted with the formulation of a hypothesis. On the contrary, an inductive research approach goes well with qualitative research, which includes getting a theoretical underpinning of the critical research problem. The inductive approach is, however, seen as less accurate in terms of findings obtained when compared to deductive approaches that provided higher accuracy. This particular research study has considered a quantitative research method to conduct the research comprehensively. Since the study is collecting data from primary sources in the form of the questionnaire survey, it is essential to use graphs and statistics, which further qualifies for quantitative studies. The research has not developed any hypothesis, and the study has been done based on the formed research questions and objectives. Correspondingly, the deductive research approach is deemed appropriate for this research as it will involve quantitative data. The findings obtained with this research will allow higher accuracy and validity altogether.

3.4. Research Design

Research design can be seen as the plan that is systematically considered in research. In general, the selection of research design can be linked with the aims and objectives of the research study. Based on the purpose and goals of the study, research design can be divided into three forms that comprise exploratory, explanatory, and descriptive research designs. Notably, this research study is argued to be experimental. This is mainly owing to the aspect that exploratory research study deals with the novel issue based on firsthand data which is conducted through surveys in this research. Since there is a lack of substantial literature with regard to the selected topic, the selection of experimental research design can be regarded as an ideal choice for the study (Biggam, 2008).

3.5. Data Collection

Data collection is often regarded as one of the most essential aspects associated with the process of conducting any research study. It is mainly owing to the aspect that this method includes an accumulation of the most relevant information required for performing the research altogether. It is important to note that, in general, data is collected primarily from two sources which comprise of primary data collection source and secondary data collection source. Primary data collection source mainly comprises of accumulation of information from a firsthand source such as interviews, observations, and questionnaire survey among others. On the other hand, secondary data collection would comprise a collection of vital information from journals, literature, and other online sources and company websites, and government reports. For this research study, data has been collected from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data collection source that has been considered in this research study comprises a collection of relevant information from a questionnaire survey with the target respondents. It is important to note that this study has been regarded as a predetermined set of questionnaires to collect the relevant data. As many as 50 respondents from Next Plc have been selected to collect the data. This has enabled the research to be able to get real-time data regarding the company and its relevance to accomplish the research objectives altogether. It was ensured that the questionnaire is conducted using an online platform since, in COVID19 pandemic times, there are certain restrictions in free movement of people and norms of social distancing. It was ensured that the survey is completed within 10-15 minutes time. On the other hand, secondary data collection in this research has been collected from journals, pieces of literature, and online sources. This has been used while conducting the literature review in alignment with the research objectives.

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3.6. Data Analysis

Data analysis mainly comprises of evaluation of the collected data based on quantitative or qualitative analysis methods. It is important to note that on the basis of the evaluated data, any research study can ensure the accomplishment of the objectives and answering the research question in concern. Since this research study has collected data from questionnaire surveys, it has considered a quantitative method to conduct the study in terms of analysis. Correspondingly, graphs, charts, and tables have been used to evaluate the data in this research and depict an accurate representation of the collected data. This will further add to the validity and reliability of the findings, which are in numerical form.

3.7. Ethical Considerations

Ethics is a vital element involved in assuring maximum acceptance of any particular research. Within the research communities, there has been growing concern with respect to research ethics. In this study, a considerable effort has been laid on preserving a high standard of research ethics. Accordingly, in this research, informed consent has been provided to the respondents, further making sure that they are not forced to take part in this research. In terms of secondary sources, data manipulation has been avoided to suit the data for the study (Given, 2008). Hence, ethics has been provided with utmost importance in this research work.

Chapter 4: Findings

For comprehending the role of social media on purchasing activities in the retail segment, a questionnaire survey has been conducted with Next Plc. Fifty respondents comprising the employees of Next Plc have been considered for the purpose of performing the study. Their responses have provided essential insights into the use of social media and how it influences customer behavior.

4.1 Demography of Respondents

From the findings, it can be observed that 56% (28 respondents) who participated in the survey are male, and the rest, 44%, are female.

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Concerning the age group, majority of the respondents (about 52%) belong to the age group of 18 to 29 years. The second most prominent age group is 30 to 44 years, representing 34% of sample respondents, and only 10% of respondents belong to the age group of fewer than 18 years ago. This indicates most of the respondents are young and teenagers, and they are the critical users of social media. Therefore, their responses can give actual insight into the subject.

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Concerning educational qualification, it can be perceived that 38% of participants completed higher secondary education, and 36% of respondents are graduates. Apart from that, 20% of respondents have only completed secondary education, and only 6% have completed masters. This specifies most of the respondents have sufficient education to know marketing in social media and purchasing.

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4.2 Social Media Usage

For understanding the use of social media among respondents, they are asked the social media channel they use most frequently. In this question, all the respondents have mentioned Facebook. Apart from that, 48 respondents also said to use YouTube frequently. This indicates, these two are the most popular social media networks among people and can influence their behavior. The third critical social media network mentioned by 45 respondents is Instagram. It is also a widespread social network use by most of the young population. Then again, only 12 respondents have said to use Twitter frequently. The use of blogs is not popular among respondents.

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In the following question, the respondents are asked if they follow the brand Next Plc on social media platforms. On this question, most of the respondents (96%) stated that they follow the Next Plc brand in social media. This specifies that Next Plc uses social media in order to connect with people, and it helps to share information and know the customer's behaviors and inspire purchasing decisions through various marketing strategies.

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The respondents are also asked about the reasons for following Next Plc on social media. On this question, 42 respondents have mentioned that they follow the band due to personal preferences. 41 Respondents have said that they follow the brand in order to develop a strong relationship, and 40 respondents mentioned that they want to be knowledgeable regarding the products and services of the brand. These are the top three reasons respondents have mentioned for following Next Plc in social media. Apart from that, 38 respondents also said that they desire to communicate with the brand, and 32 respondents stated they want to recommend others regarding the brand. This indicates social media provides various advantages for Next Plc to communicate and connect with people. Therefore it is an essential media to share news about products and services to them.

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4.3 Use of Social Media

For understanding the usage of social media for Next Plc, the respondents are asked series of questions to rank from highly agree to disagree. The respondents are asked if the social media of Next plc can affect their vision. On this question majority of the respondents (25 out of 50) are neutral with this fact. 12 respondents have disagreed with this fact, and only 6 respondents are agreed with this fact. This indicates the vision of people regarding a brand is less likely to influence by social media presence. Concerning the significance of social media, the majority of the respondents (19 and 21 respectively) are highly agreed and agreed with the fact that the presence of Next Plc in social media is essential for them. 8 respondents are neutral with this fact, and only 2 respondents have disagreed with this fact.

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In social media, the contents, comments were given by people, and shares play a vital part in generating perception regarding any brand. In this context, the majority of the respondents (25 and 21 respectively) have agreed and highly agreed with the fact that contents, comments, and shares associated with Next Plc in social media create change in their minds. Only 3 respondents are neutral with this fact. By reacting to the questions of people in social media, brands can make a positive image in the mind of people that they are communicative and responsive to people’s interests. In this way, brands can create good positive relations with people. On this aspect, most of the respondents (32 out of 50) stated that it positively influences the brand image if Next Plc follows up grievances, inquiries, comments, and responses. It helps followers know that their concerns are being taken care of by the brand, and they create a positive perception of the brand. Only five respondents are neutral with this brand. Finally, the respondents have stated that if they express their level of satisfaction in social media for notifying others regarding the brand. On this question, a mixed reaction has been observed where 11 and 13 respondents respectively are highly agreed and agreed with the fact, and 15 respondents are neutral with this fact. Then again, 6 and 5 respondents are disagreed and highly disagreed with this fact.

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4.4 Influence of Social Media on Purchasing Activity

The next set of questions was asked to understand if social media impact their purchasing decision. The first question was asked if social media influence the purchasing decision of the respondents. On this question, the majority of the respondents (22 and 11 respectively) agreed and highly agreed with the fact that social media influence their purchasing decision. Twelve respondents are neutral with this fact, and only 5 respondents have disagreed with this fact. This finding indicates the significance of social media for brands like Next Plc. Therefore, with the support of using social media marketing and targeting the right people, it can impact the mind of customers to like the brand and purchase the products.

In the following question, the respondents are asked if they make purchasing decisions after reviewing comments from others. On this statement, 23 and 18 respondents respectively are highly agreed and agreed with this fact, and only 9 respondents are neutral with this fact. This specifies, the comments and reviews given by people in social media have essential role in shaping the mind of people, and they get a perception regarding the products and the brand, which influencing their purchasing behavior. Positive remarks regarding a brand certainly inspire prospective buyers who are interested in the brand to purchase products from it. In contrast, negative comments can make them switch to other brands. In this way, social media help to determine purchasing behavior among people.

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With respect to the dependency of people on social media before making a purchase, 18 and 12 respondents, respectively, highly agreed and agreed with the fact that they always depend on social media before making a purchase. 11 respondents are neutral with this fact and 5, and 4 respondents respectively are disagreed and highly disagreed with this fact. With comments regarding any product stays so much about a brand, many people indeed depend on social media before making a purchase. However, there are also other depending factors like recommendations from friends and family or social factors which also impact investment.

Many people search for products on the internet or find new developments on the internet through sharing by others. In this context, the respondents are asked if social media help them to find new products. On this statement, the majority of the respondents (17 and 15 respectively) highly agreed and agreed with the fact that social media help them to find new products. 13 respondents are neutral with this fact, and 5 respondents have disagreed with this fact. This indicates that social media can play a vital part for brands to share any new product information as it can easily and quickly spread to people and become known to the mass public.

Many brands give promotional information to social media in order to attract people. Based on this, respondents are asked if promotions in social media get their attention to buy products. On this question, most of the respondents (29 out of 50) have agreed with this fact. Twelve respondents are neutral, and 6 respondents have disagreed with this fact. This indicates that social media is an excellent platform for brands like Next Plc to share promotional messages to the target audience. Whe4n the news reaches them, it can motivate them to purchase.

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In the eighth question, the respondents are asked how social media impact on their purchasing decision. On this question, most of the respondents (48 out of 50) stated that social media impacts purchasing decisions by generating brand awareness. The second meaningful way by which social media help to develop purchase intention is through creating interest regarding a brand, mentioned by 47 respondents. 46 respondents stated that by generating brand reputation, social media support to inspire purchase among people. 45 respondents said that social media help to find a product and hence impact purchasing decision. Apart from that, simplicity of online purchasing and better post-purchase experience by using social media is also an essential factor of social media for purchasing decision, mentioned by 32 and 26 respondents, respectively.

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In the following question, the respondents are asked about the factors, which change customers’ behavior towards Next Plc. On this question, the most important aspect mentioned by 49 respondents is the quality of a product. The second most important factor is product variety mentioned by 46 respondents. 45 respondents stated that the reputation of the brand and product designs is vital factors, which change customers’ behavior towards Next Plc. The cost factor is mentioned by 32 respondents as a crucial factor for changing customers’ attitude towards Next Plc. Product availability and convenience are cited by 23 and 15 respondents for changing their behaviors towards Next Plc.

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The tenth question is asked to the respondents to understand how likely social media inspire purchasing of Next Plc products. The majority of the respondents (23 and 17 respectively) stated very reasonably and likely this question. 6 respondents stated moderate likely, and 3 and 1 respondents respectively said unlikely and very unlikely to this question.

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The eleventh question was asked to the respondents to understand how much social media can impact on purchasing decision of fashion brands like the Next Plc brand. This helps to understand the level of importance of social media for influencing the purchase of customers on fashion retail products. On this question, 50% of the respondents stated that social media impact 51% to 80% of their purchasing decision on fashion retail products. 24% of respondents mentioned that 81% to 100% of the purchase of fashion retail brands likes Next Plc is influenced by social media. 18% of respondents said that social media impact 31% to 50% of purchasing decisions regarding fashion retail brands. This indicates, social media has a significant effect on purchasing retail products, and therefore, they should utilize this media carefully.

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Chapter 5: Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1. Conclusion

In this particular chapter of the research study, the focus has been mainly on analyzing the fundamental research in context to the objectives of the study, further ensuring a proper answer to the research question in concern. It is important to note that social media is one of the most extensively used tools in modern times, mainly owing to the fact that it provides a broader platform for people to communicate across national and international borders without any barriers. In this context, it is essential to note that social media and its application in the business domain is also a topic of extension discussion, mainly owing to its positive contribution to the business sector. The prime aim of this research study was to understand the impact of social media to influence or alter the behavior of the customers for the retail industry with regard to the operations of Next Plc.

It has been noted from the review of various literature that social media in the business in general or in the retail sector has a profound presence. This is mainly owing to the aspect that social media enable a particular company to be able to interact directly with the customers so that CRM and communication-related goals can be attained with maximum efficacy altogether. It is further noted that retailers must ensure their social media presence and create an online community where the business can socialize and involve with the customers. Social media is also deemed to be important in the creation of brand loyalty. It is essentially the contribution of social media in allowing a platform to connect with the customers on a day-to-day business altogether. It is also noted that social media enable retail companies to be able to influence the brand positively in front of the customers. Influencers in social media also help promote brands of retail companies, which are again considered essential and beneficial for the business. One of the significant importance of social media is how companies can improve or increase their customer base. It is believed that there is social currency, which is linked to likes, shares, and comments based on which popularity of a particular or success of a specific social media campaign can be determined. It is believed that companies often sought to find a particular target to pitch their product or services. Social media is deemed the right platform for companies to develop a particular target or set of customers to promote the products or services. Certain vital factors can be identified in terms of altering the customers' behavior towards a specific brand. These factors comprise the cultural characteristics, demographic factors, and personal and psychological factors, among others. Through social media, companies target to hit these components to alter the buyers' behaviors towards a particular brand. In this context, it is also important to link social media with consumer behavior. The convenience that is offered by social media to be customers further improves their experience, which additionally influences their decision-making altogether. All these factors have also been identified to be valid from the findings of the questionnaire survey.

The survey has provided equal importance to both male and female respondents to get a balanced set of data. However, in terms of age, 52% of the respondents are in between the age group of 18-29 years. In terms of social media usage, as many as 48 respondents said that they use social media continuously. This shows the extensiveness of social media and its popularity among people. In terms of applying social media in Next Plc, 96% of the people have responded with yes and affirmed that they are using social media in their business operations. The respondents have listed various reason for which customers’ needs to follow the social media handle of the company. Some of the reasons comprise developing solid relations with the brand, getting exclusive offers and discounts, to be able to communicate with the brands and others. In terms of the impact of social media on the purchasing behavior of the customers, it has been noted that 22% of the respondents agreed that their purchasing behavior is influenced by social media engagement. Therefore, it can be concluded from the comprehensive study that social media indeed has a considerable influence on the purchasing behaviors of the customers at large.

5.2. Limitations and Recommendations for Future Research

There are certain limitations that have been encountered in the process of conducting this research study. One of the critical limitations that can be identified in this context comprises the lack of relevant data associated with the retail industry. It is noted that there has been a wide range of research conducted in terms of social media and its importance in business. However, there has been a lack of comprehensive analysis specifically for the retail sector. Correspondingly, future research can be conducted on both interviews and surveys to collect a wide range of data altogether. This will also be extended to the research that is to be completed in the future on a similar topic. Again, due to the COVID19 pandemic, there were restrictions in collecting data from face-to-face means, which restricted conducting an observation of the respondents. This can be overcome in future research in the post-COVID world.

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