International Marketing Through Internet and Social Media
The study focuses on the method and tactics of social media marketing. Furthermore, this study aims at determining the advantages and the disadvantages of using social media in marketing. This study increases the awareness of the value for River Island brands in using social media as a communication channel to reach its consumers internationally. It provides a general understanding of consumer’s perception for River Island products on internet and social media regarding the geographical background, cultural background, preferred way of contact and attitude towards new brands. The research employed the use of both qualitative and qualitative methods of data collection. It expands the existing knowledge in this field and helps River Island fashions to understand their consumers’ attitude in the future in an effective and productive manner Contents Executive Summary 2 CHAPTER ONE 7 1.
0 Introduction 7 1. 10 Background 7 1. 11 Research objectives 8 1. 12 Problem statement 8 1. 1 Segmenting 16 2. 2 Positioning and Differentiation 17 2. 3 Brand 18 2. 4 Brand identity 18 2. 5 Brand image 19 2. 5 Traditional media vs. social media 26 2. 6 Advice from known people 27 2. 7 Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) 28 2. 1 Marketing Communication 29 2. 70 Data collection techniques 40 3. 1 Qualitative Analysis 41 3. 9 Quantitative Analysis 42 3. 1 Survey 42 CHAPTER FOUR 44 4. 0 Findings and results 44 4. 3 The findings of interview 53 4. 4 Discussion 53 4. 5 Importance of Facebook marketing 60 4. 6 Drawbacks of Facebook Marketing 61 4. 7 Analysis of participation 61 CHAPTER FIVE 62 5. Online tutorials assist young people to learn how to wear various designs of clothes, how to create trick braids and finally how to apply make-ups on their body. Social media enable us to be style savvy and at the same time express ourselves freely. The advent of information technology has changed the manner in which people work, communicate and interact with each other.
Social media is one of the most popular and fashionable tools people use to communicate and interact. With the arrival of Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, people can now, engage, share information and communicate with their friend and colleagues freely. Understanding the benefits and challenges of social media marketing has will help us in defining the thesis problem of this research. 13 Research Questions This study will seek solutions to the following research questions:- • Can social media platforms such as Facebook be used to create brand awareness? • Which communication tactics River Island uses in creating brand awareness? • What impact will social media have on customer relationship? • What are the pitfalls of using Social media marketing? 1. 14 Purpose of the research The aim of this research is to explore how River Island uses internet and social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to create brand awareness.
This research will also investigate the impact of social media on customer relationship. Finally, the research seek identify the pitfalls of using social media and the problems River Island encounters while using social media in marketing their products. River Island has a mobile application that makes it easier for customers to view, comment and purchase products without necessarily travelling to chain stores. The mobile app allows customers to make their purchases by just clicking the button in the comfort of their house, or anywhere else, while sitting down in front of a computer or Smartphone and browsing through favorite clothes on internet. River Island consumers in Europe, especially Poland, Ireland, England and Sweden are using the mobile app to purchase the products.
Chapter two will explore the studies that have been conducted by various scholars on how social media and the word of mouth have influenced consumers’ behaviors. In this chapter we will also look at how social media has played an important role in creating brand awareness, promoting customer relationship and enhancing customer loyalty. The advantage of SCRM is that it creates and cultivates customer advocates for a product and failure to implement such program would result into customer churn (Kim & Ko 2012, p 17). We carrying out online marketing, it is important for a company to understand how customers behave both offline and online. Understanding their behavior will enable the company to engage their target customers and develop an online brand experience. Social media offers brands with rare opportunity to listen to customer and respond to their comments instantly.
Social media also allows the collection of detailed information about the customer’s preferences and lifestyles allowing customized content to finally implant the brand in their natural conversation. The rapid changes in technology and communication have enabled online users to participate, discuss, comments and follow fashion news and buy fashion products easily online. Regardless of how small or big the business may be, social media allows marketers to communicate with consumers all over the world. River Island fashions is promoting their brands on social media making it possible for the general public to access their products and purchase them any time through social networking. Retailers do not only use social media to communicate with their customers but also use social media to listen to the responses from the clients.
According to Kogan Page, Karpik & Scott (2010 p 14), with the increase in the use of retailer’s internet websites by consumers for searching out brand’s information and purchases, websites have become an important tool for attracting new consumers and convince them to remain or become customers. People can meet in parties, in buses or conferences and establish their relationship using social media platforms. Social media is important because of its visual aspect. In some instances, people may not be able to remember the names of their friends especially if they met for a very short period of time (Lutz, 2012, p 16). However when they become friends on social media, they can remember the name by looking at the profile picture. It is therefore very easy to identify someone better by looking at the videos and photos they take and post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Nevertheless, with the introduction of social media, segmentation of market has tremendously changed (Binkley 2010, p 21). Nowadays people spend most of their time on social media and internet rather than on traditional communication media such as television, newspapers or radio. Social media and internet allows them to access lots of information from various sources, watch movies and get entertained. It enables people to enjoy digital information not only as passive viewers but also as content generators (Riondino &b Chiara 2011, p 14). Allowing companies to generate content is important because it enables them understand the consumers’ behavior, their attitudes and interests based on the information they obtain from internet or social media. Positioning explains the products membership in a category (such as fast fashion market) and the displays its point of difference (better customer services or better quality) (Riondino & Chiara, 2011 p 14).
A brand’s market position can be classified in relation to the category need (differentially positioned) or the product category (centrally positioned). Product category has to deliver all the benefits in the category and will be classified as the best positioned brand. This category for product has a strong market position, but in some instances a “me too” can deliver it (Sally Harridg, 2004, p 22). Differentiation on the other hand is the creation of both tangible and intangible differences on one or more crucial dimensions between products at its competitor (Seringhaus 2015, p 7). Moreover it can be described as an association evoked in the minds of the customer based on past experiences or other reasons from the memory, feelings and attitude towards brand characteristics.
In most cases, consumers do not respond to realities but instead they respond to what they perceive as the reality. This clearly illustrates the association experienced by an individual over a given period of time as a result of direct and indirect involvement with certain brands. Furthermore, brand images can be beneficial to a company. 6 Retailing According to Rubinstein (2002, p 30), retailing is defined as a set business activities that adds values to products and services offered to customers. 0 technologies and user communities. Social media can also be defined as the method of communication among people who create share and exchange information in virtual communities. The use of social media has significantly influenced the lives of people and the way people interact with each other when carrying out their business operations.
The introduction of internet and social media has changed the advertisement landscape and marketing activities of business and organizations. Social media uses web based and mobile technology to create an interactive platform where people and communities interact, share, and discuss their ideas via user generated content (Riondino &b Chiara 2011, p 14). This approach increases customers experience with the brand and later establishes an emotional connection that integrates the brands as part of their lifestyle. Despite the advantages, social media has its pitfalls that may influence consumer’s attitude towards certain products. For instance, if negative social medial comments have been created about a brand or a company, the clients would be negatively influenced by these comments and they may decide to look for alternative companies that provide the same brands or services.
In a scenario like this, marketers have the responsibility to communicate to their clients and respond to the negative comments in a positive and sober manner. 2 Facebook Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites with more than two billion active user. Rather than a ‘buy’ button, Instagram enable marketers to link to checkout pages which can be accessed by customer and other Instagram user (Kapferer 2012, p 19). In 2015, Instagram launched carousel ads that allowed companies to post sideshow photos that have a button to view extra content. The purpose of carousel ads was to allow marketers to send their clients directly to where they could purchase what they saw on the Instagram ads. Research indicates that more than 60% of the global 100 companies post an average of 6.
5 times every week on Instagram. River Island uses blogs to display the latest fashions trends, latest designs and latest styles they have in store. Blogs are important because they show tips on how models wear products and give useful tips to consumers on how to try it on their own. 5 Content community Content communities are similar to social network because one needs to register and login. Content community allows the users to create a homepage which they use to control and share the contents with family and friends. In content communities, the information shared is intended to people or communities with similar interests and values. 4 Social media Landscape The introduction of social media has shifted the trust of advertisement to the word of mouth among the consumers.
The advancement in technology has resulted in the formation of “What You See Is What You Get”. This implies that the formation of social web is democratic in nature i. e. it allows users to be content readers and at the same time content publishers (Lee 2009, p 7). They no longer share their email address with others. But instead communicate through social networks which have inbox that substitutes email (Kim & Ko 2012, p 9). Emails are no longer used as the first tools of digital communication because it is easier for one to connect via social media and have a real conversation with friends. Social media provides an open and the most convenient conversation among its users. It also allows people to update their status and keep in touch with their relatives and friends in real time.
According to Sinclaire and Vogus (2011, p 53), it is important for a company to create and understand an effective social media strategy. Moreover, the companies need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both the traditional marketing media and the social media marketing before choosing and effective method to adopt. Preston (2012, p 49), is of opinion that companies faces challenges when adopting social media marketing strategy particularly when it is required to create an online platform where they can communicate with their customers in a collaborative manner. Advertisement on traditional medial such as television, radio and printouts only allows the brand to advertise its massage to consumers thus making it one way communication. Social media has considerably transformed communication by making it a two way process.
Posting of information is also free. 6 Advice from known people For consumers, it may not appear like spam if the information they get originates from people they know (Kapferer 2012, p 19). People who advise or recommend other people to purchase certain products have an opportunity to express their knowledge, experience, value and expertise regarding that particular product. Nonetheless, before the introduction of social media platforms, word of mouth marketing was a proactive and the most efficient method of advertisement. People should be satisfied with the products to an extent of complementing it and telling others to purchase them (Portes & Lesser 2000, p 41). 7 Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) According to the American Association of Advertisement Agencies (2011 p 23), Integrated Marketing Communication is a comprehensive plan that evaluates specific roles of various communication disciplines and combines them to provide a clear, consistent and maximum communication impact.
The main objective of IMC is to crate and a flawless experience for consumer across various facets of the marketing mix. When designing the IMC programs, retailers face serious challenges due to the fact that media, brands and consumers are changing in various ways. With the introduction of new media, consumers have shifted both their media usage patterns and how they use different media sources to acquire the information they are looking for which then influences where, when and how to choose their preferred brands (Kapferer 2012, p 25). Marketing communication is mostly used by companies to inform, convince and remind customers of their brands and services. If a customer leaves a negative feedback on social media regarding the product or service, it is the responsibility of the company to turn that negative feedback into a positive criticism and address the issue raised by the customer.
Apart from the obvious use of social media for communication and searching for information without any restrictions and limitations, people use it nowadays to express their thoughts and feelings as well. Social media offers the company a great opportunity to connect with their customers with a greater reach. Its interactive nature does not only allows the company to exchange and share the information they have with their clients but also allows the already existing customers to exchange and share the information they have with other customers (Guenther 2009, p 27). Companies use social media to reach customer who could not be reached physically. Online marketing offers the most effective electronic commerce that allows consumers to buy products and marketers to sell their products.
Online retailers are part of e-commerce and electronic channel that includes e-stores, online shops and online stores that that sells goods and services from business (Kapferer & Bastien 2009 p 12). Online fashion consumers are passionate by their senses; this implies that most online fashion shoppers have a feeling that shopping online is the most effective way than physical purchasing them for clothing stores. Online retailers minimizes the possibilities of high buying risk of online apparel products using features that allow online buyers to have a feeling that they are interacting with the products (Holzner 2008 p 8). This has progressively become an important aspect to the success of e-commerce. Online shopping platforms allow retailers to promote and communicate the brands to their customers in an efficient manner than any other styling advice from sale assistance in physical stores (Kogan Page.
Karpik & Scott 2010, p 18). Continuous fashion information and updates are becoming useful and relevant to shoppers. Other features on fashion retailer’s websites such as social networking, blogs, magazines and styling tips are used to emphasize the fashion consciousness to online buyers (Alreck & Settle 2015, p 14). By incorporating the traditional elements and the digital experience, click only retailers have an opportunity to offer their customers with an excellent experience that surpasses that of an online site. The use of radio, televisions and billboards has drastically reduced paving way for online marketing and promotion. According to Sweetser and Kelleher (2011, p 52), internet has been described as the greatest communication strategy that has ever been invented. The use of web advertisement has rapidly shifted the marketing environment using advanced technologies.
As a result, the companies and firms had to adjust to how they plan and implement their promotion and marketing strategies in order to conform and fit the expanding demands of ever evolving communication technology. Social media provides an extensive and collaborative marketing strategy that has been developed as a result of increase in digital marketing (Preston 2012, p 21). River Island also uses social media to update their potential customers with special offers as well as sending them greeting messages on special occasions such as Christmas holidays. They offer these services to their consumers to ensure they remain in their minds. River Island updates their consumers on Facebook and Twitter on their latest fashion brands, global fashions and their retail shops across the world.
They have created a fashion blog with the latest information the consumers are looking for. They have added new fashion designs and attractive visual which provide tips to their customers on how to wear certain designs. It is until then when the fashion industry followed a consistent calendar of trade fairs shown by presenting the future seasons trends. As a result, fashion industry markets were capable of forecasting the demand a year before the time basing on the previous sales data. Under the influence of certain factors, the unchanging situations have transformed to new models known as quick fashions and fast fashions (Alreck & Settle 2015, p 19). In apparel markets, the competitive strategy of retailers are commonly based on differentiation of products and prices as there are significant polarities among clients who are mostly concerned with the price and the brand.
Chapter three will discuss both qualitative and quantitative methods that would be used in data analysis. Qualitative method was employed in this research to ensure that each participant gives a view or a story of how business and marketing has transformed since the introduction of social media and internet. Survey was also used as a method of data collection but we were not able to interact with the respondents and decided to send them the questionnaires through their Facebook inbox and emails. 20 Research Approach and Strategy This research combines both induction and deduction methods. The induction method focuses on the understanding of the research context and the problem of research. 30 Designing samples Sampling is the statistical method researcher use to obtain a small portion from the population to represent the entire population.
Furthermore, the questions were designed with simplicity and clarity in their meaning and vocabulary so that the respondents could understand them and answer them easily without getting confused. The questions were designed in a manner that they were relevant to all respondents in the sense that the respondents would reply them basing on their own conditions and experience (Sweetser & Kelleher 2011, p 32). Finally, the questionnaire is designed in a way that the respondent’s information is filled below every question this allows respondents go give detailed information regarding the question asked. 50 Validity In this research, samples are not randomly selected from their population but they are significant to the objectives of the research. The respondents for qualitative research are the River Island managers, and the respondents for quantitative research are Face book and twitter users and those who are interested in River Island’s products.
In depth interview was preferred for this research Quantitative involves measuring numerical data which is later used in building of statistical information that explains what was observed during the research. Quantitative method of data collection in this research was implemented by the use of questionnaires (Alreck & Settle 2015, p 17). In most cases, questionnaires are used in both explanatory of descriptive research. Since one of the objectives of this research is to determine the attitude and the customers’ behavior about marketing on social media making the use of questionnaires relevant in this research. The questions in the questionnaire are designed basing on the literature we have gathered from social media journal, twitter, and Facebook marketing articles and the internet. 2 Structured interviews Structured interview employs the use of questionnaires which are based on specific predetermined and standardized questions.
According to Sweetser and Kelleher (2011, p 27), structured interviews are sometimes referred to Interviewer administered questionnaires. Each question is recorded on standard schedule with pre-code answers. To avoid biasness during the process of data collection, an interviewer is required to read out the questions exactly how they have been written in the same voice and tone. Structured interviews also known as quantitative research interviews are commonly used to collect quantitative data. Survey can be divided into two main categories namely; descriptive survey and analytical survey. The survey has been designed to meet the abovementioned objectives of this study. By conducting self-completion questionnaires, the questions were easy to follow and answer. Descriptive survey was designed to get the general characteristics of the targeted segment in terms of attitudes, beliefs, motivations, demographics, opinion and buyers behavior (Sweetser & Kelleher 2011, p 43).
Analytic survey was designed in a manner that conveyed the customer’s perceptions regarding River Island brands. 0 Findings and results 4. 1 Demographic information ` Figure 1: Gender From the graph above, the number of women who uses Facebook is larger than the number of men. This implies that 65% of the people using Facebook are women and 35% are male. 2 Age From the figure above, 112 respondents are between 18-21 years, 88 are between 22-25 years, 55 are between 26-29 years and 27 are between 30-33 years. In this research we did not have respondents whore were above 34 years. 6 Media that interest consumers Figure 5: Media that interests consumers From the graph above, it is evident that most of the respondents get attention about fashion brand from the newspapers and magazine.
Other gets interests from television, radio and friends and relatives respectively. Most respondents believe that internet is good for creating brand awareness. 7 Elements of ads banner used on Facebook Figure 6: Elements of ads Banners The above graph shows the most important elements of advertisement banner used to display fashion on Facebook page. An attractive advert should have a unique, artistic and stylish content. 45 respondents felt they annoyed because of lots of spam messages. 30 respondents believed that fashion brand on Facebook were interesting and useful for a company. 27 respondents regarded fashion brand on Facebook as lack of engagement conversation and content. 2 Limitation of the study The studies focused on consumers who likes and follow River Island brands on social media platforms. Whereas the study aims at establishing the reasons why consumer share contents on social media, it is limited to people who are active fans of River Island brands and share videos and pictures or comment with others.
Recording the conversation was important during the process of data collection to allow free flow of conversation and avoid or minimize unnecessary interruptions. 4 Discussion The findings of the study indicated that most consumers were neutral about the use of Facebook in marketing. The number of people who considered the usefulness of Facebook marketing is quite small. Most of the respondents indicated that they hear about fashion brands of television and radio stations. Clara (2009 p 42), claims that the introduction of social media will considerably reduce the significance of traditional media. Figure 5 indicates that people still depend on traditional media to get the latest trends and designs in fashion. The finding of this research also indicates that the mutual interest among members in Facebook community is something River Island should take advantage of.
Those who share similar interests are more like to interact than those with diverse interests. If four friends’ members click a Like button on a River Island Fashion Facebook page, other member would find the advertisement on Facebook page. Thus, building a Facebook community should be made voluntary for one to join. In addition, contents with fashion tips and guidance on how to dress are some of the things that impress consumers. This statement is in harmony with Levy’s arguments which suggest that sharing certain content can encourage consumers to visit Facebook page again. Kapferer (2012 p 13) suggests that marketing tactic used in Facebook must be real and transparent; the observations from River Island indicate that they use their logo as a profile picture.
Holzner (2008) argues the interaction between consumers and brands should be simple and straight. (Firat, Dholakia & Venkatesh, 2014 p 24) suggests that the use of status updates and questions when communication with consumers is the most effective way of engaging consumers. River Island uses social media to keep in touch with the already existing customers, for promotion and marketing purposes and attract new customers. Social media marketing is important for River Island e-commerce because it links the customers directly to the marketers. Social media is the best method of advertising brand because it is accessible to many people and this can be the best way River Island can reach their customer. The Use of Facebook can be used to display the brand the company has in store.
All respondents agreed that internet and social media have positively influenced their e-commerce business by using the word of mouth because most of their customers buy their brands when they see them on social media (Clara 2009, p 16). 1 Interview result The interview is aimed at determining the method, benefits and the drawbacks of using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for marketing fashion products. Furthermore, its purpose is to have a critical look in the role of social media in marketing and creation of brand awareness. Interviews are used to determine the critical elements in brand management for River Island fashion. An in-depth interview was carried out with the managers of River Island in the UK. We contacted River Island managers and we received their responses through email.
The findings of the interview indicated that Facebook is the most useful tool in creating brand awareness among the consumers. However, according to the managers, social media marketing was still very new and potential for River Island Fashion Company to explore. From the interview the following observations were made; • Formation of Facebook communities. • Adopting the work of mouth for advertisement • Consumers should not be forced to join the communities. • Influential people should be employed to attract more consumers to the community. Moreover, they agreed that Facebook provides an interactive and a collaborative platform that allows everyone to join the conversation and share their opinions, suggestions and feedbacks. Furthermore the respondents considered the use of videos and photos as the best tools to show the latest fashion pictures and the upcoming brands so that the consumers can be aware of the company’s new products and designs (Berger & Milkman 2012 p 33).
The respondents also said that the events concerning the fashion anniversaries are uploaded on their Facebook fan page so that people can be involved and share the words to other people. The respondents admitted that the Facebook marketing had its own pitfalls in that it only targets a specific audience because not all consumers are active Facebook Users. The respondents said that if the company fails to update the Facebook fan page with new brands it become difficult for their site to attract customers. From the observation we made from River Island Facebook fan page, we saw that the company is able to identify frustrated customers on time through feedbacks and instant posts and solve their problems in time. Through reviews and comments posted by consumers, companies can measure the level of satisfaction of their consumers because consumers would be comfortable to express their feeling about a brand on Facebook rather complaining through face to face.
6 Drawbacks of Facebook Marketing The results of this research show that Facebook marketing can only reach a specific target group since not all consumers are active Facebook users. Technical problems at times create obstacles for users making it difficult for users to get updated news regarding particular brands. Emergence of bad news about a brand can rapidly spread in Facebook community to an extent that a company cannot control. Facebook wall continuously updates it news events and happening regarding the fashion style and what the company has in store. Furthermore, it allows consumers to express their feedback, and respond to post. River Island post questions regarding their fashion brand to encourage heated conversation among its consumers. River Island has constantly been asking their consumer what the fashion criteria should be.
The wall has received numerous suggestions, recommendations and feedback directly from their users. Apart from provide personal and emotional information to customers, Facebook enables customers to express themselves. Research indicate that the main problem of fast fashion brand is the interaction between consumers and the brands while majority of followers on social media platforms seems to expect to interact with brand and expect a response to their comments, questions and criticism, many fashion brands administrators do not engage in any kind of discussion with consumers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore the negative comments that are not addressed by brand may have negative effects on consumer’s perception towards the brand. The findings of this research indicate that social media platforms are still new in their establishment and popularity.
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Facebook marketing for River Island is an important advertisement tool because it allows us to reach thousands of potential customers. 3 What is the role of Facebook marketing for your company? Our company relies on the word of mouth where our customers buy products and when satisfied with them, they recommend us to their friends and other people. 6 Do you use any other social media platform in marketing? Yes, apart from Facebook we also use other social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and blogs. 7 Do you use Facebook inbox as a method of advertising for your company? No, we do not use messages through Facebook. But instead we use emails to inform our customers about our campaigns. In the future we are planning to send messages regarding our products through Facebook.
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