Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics
The rapid growth of social media as a marketing channel has provided new opportunities for organisations to build brand loyalty and create new interactive ways of communicating and engaging with customers. As it is currently, more firms have embraced social media marketing in a bid to keep in touch with their customers on regular basis, when making adverts, selling or promoting their products. And luxury brands are no exception. Therefore, this research has taken Coach Company as a case to study the impacts of social media in marketing activities of luxury brands’ loyalty in the Chinese female market in order to offer some suggestions on how Coach Company should improve its social media marketing efforts to increase brand loyalty. The research used questionnaire method to collect data from 103 female respondents who are customers of Coach Company
From the analysis, the major motives behind Coach’s adoption of social media is to create product awareness and loyalty among its female customers. Besides, the research found out that social media marketing and luxury brand loyalty are positively and linearly correlated implying that marketing efforts through social media have an important impact on luxury brand loyalty of female customers. This is because social media marketing achieves loyalty development through offering values and benefits to customers as well as providing solutions to common product issues and complaints thereby making customers to become loyal to an organisation’s brand. To this end, the research suggests that Coach Company should update its messages regularly, release interesting activities and actively interact with customers through live chatting and messaging in its social media platforms to increase brand loyalty.
Key words: Social media marketing, luxury brands, female customer brand loyalty;
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Research background
The proliferation created by social media has totally changed the way companies and brands conduct their marketing efforts and seek new interactive ways to share information and interact with customers (Malthouse et al., 2013). According to Statista (2017), this rapidly growing marketing channel already reaches two-thirds, which is approximated to be 2.51 billion people of the internet users, giving new opportunities for companies and brands to build brand loyalty and reputation. Currently, more and more firms have embraced social media marketing to keep in touch with their customers in regular basis when making their adverts, selling or promoting their products or services (Nijssen, 2017). As noted by Cornelissen and Cornelissen (2017) social media marketing offers companies easier and cheaper ways to reach their customers and which has enhanced its extensive usage globally. Further, Kumar et al. (2017) argues that the need for companies and brands to advertise their brands, to reach and interact with customers aiming at creating strong and long–term relationships and hence increased consumers’ brand loyalty has positively influenced the increased usage of social media marketing.
According to Zhang and Kim (2013), luxury brands in China are associated a high-end merchandise life having guaranteed high profits margins and secure, regular customers. Tsimonis and Dimitriadis (2014) argues that in order to enhance brand loyalty to their target customers, luxury brands have adopted social media marketing platforms to reach and engage with customers as well as allowing them to interact through the platform by sharing of information and opinions regarding the brand. As such extensive Facebook pages, twitter accounts, YouTube and Instagram have been created in by various luxury brands and are evaluated as key differential marketing tools to attract and retain royal customers which eventually lead to increased profitability of the business (Lipschultz, 2014). According to Gerth (2010), Chinese consumers have shown a growing appetite for luxury brands, which is influenced by rising middle class that is capable and willing to spend on luxury goods. Specifically, Chinese female market accounts for approximately half of the consumers in China luxury goods market. As noted by Atwal and Bryson (2014), this has led luxury brands to venture into emerging Chinese markets to expand their market presence. With growing fame of social media in marketing communication function for luxury brands, it is necessary to comprehensively analyse the impact of social media marketing efforts on luxury brand loyalty. To that end, this study seeks to verify the effect of social media marketing efforts towards customer loyalty of luxury brand in Chinese female market taking the case study of Coach Company.
Coach Company is a multinational luxury fashion company founded in 1941 in USA specialising in all gender fashion products including women luxury handbags, women apparel fragrance, jewellery, outerwear, sunwear, outwear, watches etc. The company registered total revenue of $ 4.24 billion in 2016.With 1,024 globally and approximately 17,200 employees as at 2014, the company has risen to become one of the major multinational luxury fashion company (Coach Inc., 2017). Ideally, Coach Company is well known for selling luxury goods and its adoption of social media in advertising in its Chinese target market, which makes it an interesting focus on this research. Its large market base of customers in Chinese female market also makes Coach Company an appropriate case study for this research
1.2 Significance of the study
Despite the increasing scholarly interest in social media marketing, among the dominant challenges is the difficulty in measuring the impact of marketing activities through social media on the key brand loyalty measures. Studies regarding social media marketing and its effect on brand loyalty literature perspective lacks empirical studies as most of the studies are mainly exploratory (Laroche et al., 2013). Up to date, the impact of social media marketing on brand loyalty and its effectiveness has been scarcely studied. For instance, Jenkins et al. (2013) demonstrated that the expanding audience in online platforms has spurred an opportunity in terms of social media marketing. Further, Kudeshia et al. (2016) points out that there is scanty evidence regarding how brand activities on social media platforms influences their image, and hence increasing brand loyalty to customers. Therefore, this study intends to narrow this literature gap from the previous literature reviews, and its valuable in the sense that it will enlarge the understandings of the effects of social media marketing efforts on customer loyalty of luxury brand and it may stimulate others studies on the subject matter. Moreover, the research findings will offer reliable and updated literature to researchers willing to conduct studies on the subject matter.
Practically, the study will benefit Coach Management because it will draw attention to where corrective action is needed to improve luxury brand loyalty through various social media marketing efforts hence enhancing the company’s competitiveness. The study is also important to all managers in the luxury brands market as they can check the customer trends towards marketing efforts through social media on luxury brand loyalty and thus analyse what social media efforts should be properly valued to enhance brand loyalty of their luxury brands. Additionally, this research will also provide guidelines for luxury managers to follow when approaching social media as a marketing tool and strategy in specific luxury brand.
1.3 Research aim and objectives
The main aim of this study is to explore the impact of social media marketing efforts on luxury brand loyalty within the Chinese market taking the case study of Coach Company. From the broad objective, the specific objectives derived are as follows;
(1) What motives drive luxury brands to adopt social media marketing?
(2) What social media marketing efforts do luxury brands apply to attract customers in the Chinese female market?
(3) How do the social media marketing efforts affect luxury brand loyalty in the Chinese female market?
(4) What recommendations can be offered to luxury brands on how to better implement social media marketing to further improve customer loyalty?
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Chapter two of the research explores past research literatures on social media marketing and the efforts on the luxury brand loyalty of women consumers. Therefore, this chapter will firstly examine the background of social media marketing in China. Further down, the chapter will examine the motives that drive the luxury brands to use social media marketing. The efforts employed by the luxury brands to attract female consumers into their brands through social media will also be examined. Lastly, creative strategies to improve social media marketing by the luxury brands will be discussed.
2.2 Background of social media marketing in China
2.2.1 The concept of social media marketing
Social media refers to the online applications and website platforms that enable users to create content, interact and take part in social networking (Cao, 2011). Social media can be categorised into different types which include social and web blogs, social bookmarking, wikis and podcasts (Cao, 2011). The two most commonly used types are social blogs including Facebook and Tencent and micro-blogs such as Twitter and Weibo. Essentially, luxury brands are using social media sites to provide information such as pictures, stories, video clips and additional information such as the designer day-to-day routine and interactions to capture the attention of the consumers (Chen, 2012). With Twitter, customers can get direct and instant interaction and support to issues with the brand, personal questions about the brand and quickly develop a community network to share information and opinions about the brand. Marketing using social media will, therefore, involve gaining attention or traffic using different social media channels through sharing of content and information with the aim of increasing awareness and brand image (Chen and Lien, 2017).
According to Chen (2012), the immense popularity and uniqueness of social media has revolutionised marketing operations of advertising and promotion. Supporting Chen (2012), Wei et al. (2015) argue that social media marketing significantly influences the behaviour of the consumers in regards to aspects such as information acquisition to post-purchase behaviour which can include satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
That being said, Godey et al. (2015) explain that social media provides organisations with the platform to interact and engage with existing and prospective customers as a way of improving intimacy and building stronger customer relationships. Hudson et al. (2016) note that its use is of particular importance in developing customer relationship especially in this current age where loyalty of the consumers can quickly varnish due to a small mistake on the part of the organisations
2.2.2 Social media marketing development in China overtime
To understand the background of Chinese social media, it is fundamental also to examine the internet in China since its inception. The internet development can be discussed in four stages from its inception back in 1987 to its current phase. The first phase between 1987 and 1992 was the period of internet introduction for research purposes (Fischer-Schreiber, 2012). The second phase between 1992 and 1995, the government proposed some large-scale projects that would be used to develop national networks for information systems. The third period, between 1995 and 997, the government increased their efforts to develop more internet infrastructure in addition to implementing various regulations and policies to regulate information and security of using the internet (Fischer-Schreiber, 2012). The last phase was from 1998 to date which is characterised by a period of great revolution particularly with the advent of information and communication technology featured with the expansion of broadband and increased digital content (Fischer-Schreiber, 2012).
The development of social media in China can be attributed to the blocking of other global social media platforms in 2009. Wei et al. (2015) opine that many new social media platforms such as Tencent, renren, Youku Tudou, Weibo and DiaPing amongst others cropped up after such censorship. Since its inception, there has been a massive growth of social media penetration. According to Hunter (2016), the number of active social media user in China as of 2015 was over a 660 million. Further, Wei et al. (2015) points out that micro-blogs are highly popular in China with applications such as Wechat and Weibo being the most popular due to the instant communication features. Weibo, an alternative of Twitter in China created by Sina.com is the biggest online portal in China with a market share of about 60% as of 2017 and accounts for 90% of the micro-blog activities in China (Badi, Wang and Pryke, 2017).
According to Hunter (2016), of the total 660 million active social media users in China, 47% are female which translates to an almost balanced demographic segmentation. Guillet et al. (2015) argue that targeting the female consumers through marketing activities on the social media in the fashion industry with a particular emphasis on the female shoppers is significant to ensure effective marketing campaign for luxury brands
2.3 Motives that drive use of media marketing by luxury brands
In line with Dahnil et al. (2014), social media utilisation by businesses organisations is driven by specific needs by the organisation to meet its long-term marketing objectives. The research will focus on four motives of relationship building, market penetration and development of brand equity as the factors which drive luxury brands to adopt social media marketing
2.3.1 Relationship building
Over the last two decades, the marketing field of research has witnessed a major shift in marketing theories and practices by business. Oztamur and Karadilar (2014) note that in the same breadth, more emphasis has been placed on relationship based marketing approaches rather than transactional-based marketing. In agreement, Dahnil et al. (2014) reveal that unlike other conventional mass media promotional techniques that are focused on enhancing the sales volumes, brands use social media to secure not only current sales but also reach future competitiveness through building a relationship with the female consumers. Further, the direct communication provided by social media helps the brand secure future market sustenance due to the loyalty developed by the female consumer towards the brand (Dahnil et al., 2014).
Furthermore, Oztamur and Karadilar (2014) argue that relationship building using social media can be gained by cultivating trust between the consumer and the brand. In agreement, Shao et al. (2016) explain that trust has been viewed as one of the fundamental elements required to enhance the relationship between the consumer and the brand which is enhanced through social media. According to Jucaityte and Mascinskiene (2014), trust in an important ingredient to cultivate loyalty and therefore is considered an important element in developing the customer relationship between consumers and the brand. Shao et al (2016) argues that with the wide notion that the long-term consumers of the company are easy to be retained as opposed to attracting new consumers has been considered not effectively applicable especially with the advent on the e-commerce era. Hudson et al. (2016) note that with e-commerce, nowadays organisations are vulnerable to high level of risk and uncertainty due to unexpected changes in the business environment. Therefore, trust has been viewed as an important success element to form an electronic link with the consumer.
2.3.2 Building of the brand equity
The poor economic times and crises have pushed luxury brands to critically examine the relationship and link between women consumers and luxury products in more depth. Besides the general functionality that luxury brands offer, Kim and Jo (2010) reveal that customers purchase luxury brands for pleasure and as a symbol of success. Utilisation of social media is aimed at improving the purchase intentions of luxury brands through enhancing its brand equity. In agreement, Godey et al. (2016) note that brand equity can be examined through focusing on one, brand awareness, which is the ease of identification of the brand and two, brand image, which refers to the customers association with the brand.
According to Kim and Jo (2010), luxury brands include social media marketing techniques, besides the traditional media tools to extensively and convincingly promote their equity. Agreeing with Kim and Jo (2010), Piskorski (2011) explains that while the traditional marketing campaigns and tools will focus on promoting the brand awareness of the products, the use of social media tools aim at enhancing the image of the brand to the consumers. Godey et al. (2016) reiterate that even though the purpose of marketing activities on social media and enhancement of brand equity is defined, the importance of brand equity to the organisation has been under a lot of contention. Nevertheless, in spite of the existing disagreements on the importance and its measurements, research findings agree that the existence of a stronger brand equity will positively influence the willingness of the consumers to pay high prices for a particular brand (Eagleman, 2013; Oztamur and Karadilar, 2014; and Lindsey and Borin, 2017) all. Eagleman (2013) reveal that social media and brand equity have a relation based on the positive contribution they have on future purchase and responses to the particular luxury brand.
2.3.3 Increase market penetration
In reference to Verma et al. (2012), one of the reasons brands adopt social media for marketing purpose is to enhance their promotional outreach. Kwok and Yu (2012) state that social media, which penetrates to all the global internet users, offer powerful and unique opportunities to brands to increase their market penetration in addition to expanding their reputation, image and awareness of their products. For example, according to Statista (2017), social media penetration in China grew from 30% in 2014 to 40% in 2017 indicating an increasing trend. Further, it is estimated that the figure will reach 50% in the next three years (Statista, 2017). Supporting, Kwok and Yu (2012) argument, Helmi et al. (2014) emphasise that with such a broad audience to market their brand, companies motive of using social media, which is by far, the easiest to use means of marketing in addition to being cost effective.
2.4 Efforts of social media marketing applied by Luxury brands towards customers in the Chinese female market
According to Schultz and Peltier (2013), the social media marketing efforts can be categorised into four dimensions of interaction, entertainment, trendiness and customisation. Using the same dimensions, this research focuses on the four factors of social media to examine the social media efforts of luxury brands in China in a bid to attract their female customer loyalty. Firstly, regarding entertainment, Lim et al. (2015) note that the play and fun derived from the experience of using social media offers entertainment. Nisar and Whitehead (2016) present entertainment and enjoyment as the main reason which drives people to join various social media platforms. Further, Nisar and Whitehead (2016) argue that one of the main reasons people use social media is to seek pleasure, amusement and entertainment and have general enjoyment from the materials shared. For instance, Zu and Chen (2015) research findings substantiate entertainment as a strong motivator for the consumption of user-generated contents. For the same reasons, luxury brands, not only in China but across the world, use entertainment through social media as a tool to attract its female consumers to its brand through contents that can not only inform the customers but make them enjoy, relax and spend their time.
According to Constantinides (2014), consumer attraction towards the brand cane be explained using the social exchange theory. Based on the theory, development of a strong and long-lasting relationship can be developed through self-disclosure. For brands, disclosure of brand information can be done through social media interaction. Similarly, Jucaityte and Mascinskiene (2014) note that social media provides an avenue for interaction where the customers disclose their information gradually about their personal life which can be used to further attract them through their brand by customisation of their brand. Further, Dhaoui (2014) find that with social media, brands can offer its consumers help as well as an avenue for ideas exchange and discussion on matters relating to the brands.
Thirdly, Naaman et al. (2011) posit that with the revolution of media communication, social media has been increasingly used in providing the latest news and new topics of discussions as compared to the conventional media outlets. Using the theory of planned behaviour, offering the consumers latest information on the brand provides them with information that can be used in making decisions for their purchase of the brand (Manthiou et al., 2013).
Fourthly, according to Zhuo and Wang (2014) customisation describes how a product or service is modelled to fit specific consumer preferences. Arguing based on the Marslow’s need theory which explains consumer behaviour towards their needs using, the use of social media plays an instrumental role in positioning their brands on top of the hierarchy of needs to motivate them make purchases (Bianchi and Andrews, 2015). In the social media marketing, customisation will revolve around providing specific messages intended for a particular audience.
2.5 How marketing efforts through social media marketing affect customer loyalty of luxury brand in the female market
According to Jucaityte and Mascinskiene (2014), unlike other traditional marketing techniques, social media is usually related to relationship marketing, and this means that businesses are required to shift from the traditional approach of selling their product and services to developing a connection with its consumers. In achieving the relationship building objective, Luo et al. (2015), mention that companies need to abstain from the big promotional campaigns and adhere to the small acts which can easily reach a lot of individual and attain its objective within a short time. Supporting Luo et al. (2015) argument, Wang and Kim (2017) assert that relationship building through the use of social media is easy as it is considered sincere in its interaction with the consumers because it tries to show the customers what the brand is all about. On the contrary, other conventional marketing tools seek to control what the brand image is or should be. Zu and Chen(2015) indicate that achievement of customer relationship and loyalty towards luxury brand can be examined from the three perspectives of engagement, relevancy and the beneficial aspects of using social media for marketing purposes.
Accordingly, Tiago and Verissimo (2014) opine that loyalty development with the use of social media marketing is achieved through offering benefits and values towards the female consumers. In support of Tiago and Verissimo (2014), Hudson et al. (2016) argue that by providing the customers with free benefits such as offering solutions to common product issues, the consumers are more likely to purchase and engage with the luxury brand in future. Other advantages include special promotions, coupons and free packages such as additional scarfs and accessories can go a long way in attracting female shoppers into being loyalty to a particular fashion brand (Zhue and Chan, 2015).
Besides, the female customer loyalty towards a particular luxury brand can positively be influenced by different applications and platforms offered by the brand, variety and different modes of consumer engagement with the brand. Ideally, with social media marketing, communications aspects such as involvement and participation with the consumers through applications such as games, content sharing draws on the their attention and interest towards the brand (Dhoui, 2014). For fashion houses, in addition to sharing information, the brands can share funny videos, music or pictures of what goes on behind the scenes during a fashion shoot out which will entertain its customers and shift them away from the realities of their lives. Making the brand fun and entertaining in addition to providing information that is relevant in helping the consumer use their products enhances the level of engagement between the customer and the brand (Dabrowski and Schivisnki, 2014).
Additionally, relevancy linked with social media marketing can also influence the female client loyalty. Razak and Latip (2016) state that on the part of the brand, the organisation can update information needed by customers, current perspectives, customer’s activities and offer them products that fit their specific need during a particular period by using social media. As such, with social media marketing approaches, customers can get up-to-date information about the brand's products (Lim et al., 2015). Offering relevant information to the consumer has a positive impact on the customer loyalty as their needs can be satisfied quickly at that point in time.
The popularity of the information amongst the women customers and friends also improves the loyalty towards that brand. Nisar and Whitheads (2016) reveal that the impact of word of mouth for social media marketing is very fundamental in enhancing the popularity of a brand.
Badi et al. (2017) argue that information provided by family members and friends is usually considered more trustworthy. In relation to the psychological ownership theory, customers will develop more feelings of connection towards a brand using information gathered from word of mouth since due to the sense of ownership from closer customers. Further, Badi et al., (2017) disclose that in improving its popularity, a brand can also search for opinion leaders in their targeted market and use their expertise to advertise their brands. Increasing the popularity of their brand will help build a more positive brand image and equity. Alalwan et al. (2017) argue that female consumers are more likely to stick to brands that have high popularity, especially when it comes to luxury brands.
2.6 Strategies used by luxury brands in implementation of social media marketing to improve customer loyalty
Luxury and fashion brands may be stagnating in the digital arena due to lack of familiarity of each of the available options. This makes it very challenging to design innovative strategies that would be considered effective in the social media marketing environment. Using some strategies should be considered to ensure that social media marketing achieves its desired outcome towards the luxury brand as explained below.
Firstly, one of the approaches of ensuring relationships is to develop a good strategy and sticking to it. Agreeably, Lindsey and Borin (2017) notes that organisations that have no clear-cut plan on executing their social media plans will likely fail to not only market their products or services but also form a stable relationship with its customers. Lindsey and Borin (2017) explain that achieving this strategy will require the brand to plan on what, how many times and when the contents should be posted at a particular time of the day. While the number of minimum posts can be set, the maximum can be adjusted to ensure that increased engagement with the customers is enhanced and by that improve the more customer-brand relationship.
Secondly, while luxury brands can have multiple social media channels to carry out their marketing activities, each of the channels should be managed as an own entity. Felix et al. (2017) assert that some contents can be shared across all the channels available at once, and ensure that the contents shared on each of the platforms is adjusted to fit the particular kind of audience that is being broadcasted. Such targeting techniques ensure that the right needs and attention are captured which are appropriate in reaching the objective of successful relationship building (Eagleman, 2013).
Thirdly, like any other contents being transmitted, mishaps and mistakes can be experienced especially with the staff handling different channels. For example, Cunha (2016) points our that the common grammar errors that can occur should not be promptly deleted but instead dealt with professionally. Bekoglu and Onaylu, (2016) opine that such occasions can be used for entertainment and fun by the customers who have viewed it and the human touch created by the occurrence of the errors aids in fostering a better relationship and in the long-term loyalty towards the brand.
Lastly, in addition to focusing on improving the relationship with your customers, the brands should also concentrate on tracking the social media trends based on a number of metrics. According to Ahmad et al. (2016), some of the aspects to focus on for analysis include the content posted, follower growth, views of the contents, posts or content shared by the company, and the impressions the content posted has made on the customers. All these parameters should be observed in all the social media channels used, after which comparisons should be done amongst each of the channels and that of its competitors to gauge the effectiveness of social media use for marketing purpose for the company (Ahmad et al., 2016).
2.7 Chapter Summary
From the review of literatures, the following conclusions can be drawn. Firstly, the motives to adopt social media by luxury brands as a way of impact on the female consumer loyalty can be examined through the three aspects of relationship building, development of brand equity and increasing market penetration. By being focused on the three factors, firms are able to reach their long-term goals which are financial and positive corporate performance in addition to enhancing their competitiveness in the market. Secondly, in achieving these objectives, several efforts need to be adopted in using social media marketing. Some of the efforts include interaction, entertainment, trendiness and customisation. Focusing on the four constructs ensure that luxury brands develop a positive and solid relationship with its female customers as part of their aim of sustaining their future market existence. Thirdly, achieving loyalty from the female consumer requires the organisation to build a positive relationship through providing relevant information, offering benefits, using different social media channels and increase the popularity of its brand. Therefore, through this comprehensive literature review, this research obtains some theoretical support for this research to find out the effect of social media marketing activities leading to luxury brand loyalty in Chinese female market.
Chapter 3: Research methodology
The previous chapter discussed the extensive literature related to the topic of the effects of social media marketing efforts towards luxury brand loyalty of female consumers in China. This chapter critically discusses the various methods employed in data collection for this research, and how they apply practically in the research. Specifically, the research philosophy, research strategy, research approach, research data and instrument, data collection process, data analysis, and the research ethics for this research are discussed in this chapter.
3.2 Philosophy adopted in the research
A research philosophy guides the process of data in a research should be collected, analysed, and used (Schauz, 2014). Ideally, there are two popular philosophies used in a research including the interpretivism and positivism philosophies (Ngulube, 2015). According to Wardale et al. (2015), positivism philosophy is about testing the existing theories through the application of empirical data. Besides, the interpretivism philosophy applies existing theories to gain knowledge regarding a phenomenon (Mayer, 2015). Thus, according to Schauz (2014), the difference between the interpretivism and the positivism approach is that the interpretivism approach relies on the ideas, opinions, views and observations of others in trying to build knowledge in a research, while the positivism approach relies on practical empirical data, which can be tested in a practical setting, for instance, a laboratory. This research adopted the positivism approach. Ideally, social media marketing is an existing belief that is rather believed to improve the marketing efforts of organisations. It is informed by various motives, and it is also believed that various techniques can help bring about a certain predetermined impact on the marketing efforts. Thus, use of positivism would be appropriate in this case, to find out or test what impact the social media has on the marketing efforts of luxury brand loyalty on the Chinese female market. On the other hand, interpretivism philosophy was not appropriate in this case, as it seeks to expound on an existing theory, and relies on subjective ideas, opinions, and views of others to explain a phenomenon. For this research however, the investigator seeks for facts regarding the effects of social media marketing efforts towards luxury brand loyalty in Chinese female market, to test them against the existing theory.
3.3 Research Strategy
There are various research strategies used to conduct a research. The most common ones according to Huang (2015), includes the case study and the survey strategy. According to Bentley et al. (2015), case studies are better employed if the researcher choose to explore a particular phenomenon in its original context, while the surveys are better employed when the researcher intends to study a wider sample. Some of the advantages of a case study according to Wardale (2015) include the fact that they expose the participants in real life situations, and they add value to the participants through engaging them to discuss concrete concepts, among others. On the disadvantages, Bentley et al. (2015) argue that case studies can be difficult to implement, as it may be difficult to find one case study that fits all subjects. Thus, case studies may end up misrepresenting the population. On the other hand, some of the advantages of surveys include the fact that they can allow study a wider sample of participants, and they are not limited by time and space in their implementation. On their disadvantages, Schauz (2014) argues that participants may be discouraged to provide honest answers, as they may not take the surveys seriously. This research uses the survey strategy. Ideally, the researcher wishes to study a wider sample, thus surveys will help engage a wider sample. Secondly, since surveys are not limited by time and space, the investigator will be able to apply them across a wider geographical context, as this research focuses on a wider context of all Chinese female shoppers.
3.4 Research Approach
According to Schauz (2014), research approach entails the systematic steps tracked by the investigator in the process carrying out a research, and they include deductive and the inductive approaches. Deductive approach mainly confirms an existing theory, and mostly begins its analysis from a wider perspective of the phenomenon, towards finding a specific observation (Huang, 2015). On the other hand, the deductive approach starts from a narrow observation towards generalising the observations through the use of existing theories (Wardale, 2015). This research used the deductive approach. Ideally, the deductive approach is chosen in this research, as the investigator wishes to test the various aspects of social media marketing, and determine how practically they apply in this context. Thus, use of the deductive approach will help the researcher narrow down to the conclusion, after testing the motives, the techniques, and the effects of marketing activities through social media on female customers’ loyalty of luxury brand in China, against the existing theory. Additionally, Huang (2015) argues that the deductive approach is more associated with the positivism approach, and in this research, the positivism approach is used.
3.5 Research data and instrument
According to Huang (2015), a research can use two major types of data: the qualitative and the quantitative data. The quantitative data is mostly empirical in nature, while the qualitative data is mostly a compilation of views, opinions, and observations of others. Among the advantages of empirical data is that it can be verified through empirical methods such as in the laboratory, while its major disadvantage is that it is tedious to analyse and collect as it is factual (Mayer, 2015). On the other hand, qualitative data is easier to collect as it is subjective, but it can contain various biases because of its subjectivity nature (Ngulube, 2015). This research uses the quantitative data. This form of data has been chosen as the research seeks the utmost accuracy regarding e effects of marketing activities through social media on female customers’ loyalty of luxury brand in China, and thus intends to use verifiable, accurate, reliable, and valid data, specifically focused at the current female market.
Also, Huang (2015) argues that various research instruments can be used to collect data, including interviews and questionnaires. According to Mayer (2015), some of the advantages of questionnaires include the fact that they can be used to collect data from a wider sphere of respondents, while its major disadvantages include the fact that they do not give the investigator a chance to probe for more information regarding the research subject. On the other hand, interviews, especially the semi-structured interviews can help the researcher find out more information from the participants through probing, but their major disadvantage is that they are time consuming to conduct (Bentley et al., 2015). This research make the use of questionnaires to collect data. The major reason for use of questionnaires is that the investigator intends to engage a wider audience of the Chinese female shoppers, and thus questionnaires will allow engaging more participants from the target population.
3.6 Data collection process
This research will collect primary data from Coach Company. Ideally, the choice of this company is supported by the fact that the company has shown tremendous efforts in using the social media platforms for marketing, as compared to their Chinese luxury brands focusing on the female market. The survey will collect data from the female customers of the Coach Company, as they can give quality information regarding the effects of marketing activities through social media on female customers’ loyalty of luxury brand in China. To access these respondents, the researcher will firstly approach the marketing manager in the organisation to seek permission to carry out the research. To do this, the researcher will explain the research aim and objectives in order to ensure that both the organisation and the participants know the purpose of the research. After gaining permission, the researcher will agree with the marketing manager on the weekend to conduct the survey, as the weekend is the best time to carry out the survey since many customers visit the Coach Company over the weekend to do shopping. The researcher will strategically stand at the entrance to the premises, to physically give the questionnaires to the customers with the willingness to take part in the study. To get the customers attention, the researcher will do the initial introduction, briefly mention the aim of the research, and ask customers to participate willingly. Thus, the convenience form of sampling will be applied in this research, where only willing and proximate customers will be used for the research. The researcher will distribute 120 questionnaires to the participants, and finally 103 valid questionnaires was collected.
Before carrying out the actual survey however, the researcher intends to carry out a pilot study, where the researcher uses the BOS online survey website will be used on some few customers of Coach Company. The feedback obtained will be used to improve the survey. After the filling of the questionnaires, all filed questionnaires will be dropped at the customer care desk to be picked by the researcher.
3.7 Data analysis
The data collected in this research will be analysed using SPPS statistical technique. The use of the SPSS will help to easily analyse the large data collected. Through the SPSS technique, the frequency analysis of the demographic data will be done, as well as the mean value analysis and correlation and scatter analysis to determine the impact of social media marketing efforts on luxury brand loyalty.
3.8 Research Ethics
In order realise success of this research, the researcher must ensure specific ethics related to the research. In this case, this research must ensure the ethics of consent, confidentiality, and anonymity. As for the consent, the researcher will first seek consent from Coach Company, where the marketing manager will be contacted to give permission to carry out the research in the company’s premises. To obtain this consent, the researcher must explain clearly the aim and the objectives of the research to the marketing manager. Also, the researcher must seek consent from the participants, in order to ensure that they understand why they are engaging in the research. Thus, the researcher will give the participants a consent form to fill, which will explain the purpose and the aim of the study. On the other hand, when it comes to confidentiality, the researcher will ensure that data in this research remains highly confidential for use only in this research. In this case, the researcher will protect the data from being handled by the third parties, and will only use the data for the sole purpose of this research. Lastly, to promote anonymity, the researcher will ask the participants to reserve any personal information such as names or place of residence, hence fill the questionnaires anonymously. This will increase the level of honesty among the participants.
3.9 Chapter Summary
This chapter analysed the various steps that were used to collect data. Specifically, the positivism philosophy, the deductive approach, survey strategy, and quantitative data was used in this research. Questionnaires were employed in the data collection process, which takes place from the premises of the Coach Company on a weekend. Only customers who were willing and present at the premises shopping participate in the research.120 questionnaires were distributed, with a recovery rate of 80%, which means that the researcher expected 96 questionnaires back. The data collected was analysed through the statistical methods where SPSS software is employed to analyse the data. Lastly, the researcher observed the ethics of consent, confidentiality, and anonymity.
Chapter 4 Data analysis and findings
In order to achieve the aim and objectives of this research, this chapter building on the data collected, uses SPSS software to conduct a quantitative analysis. The chapter firstly conduct a frequency analysis to analyse the respondent’s demographic information as well as warm –up questions. Secondly, the chapter conducts a descriptive analysis to analyse the social media marketing efforts variables. Additionally, the chapter conducts a trend analysis to analyse the correlation between social media marketing efforts and luxury brand loyalty. Eventually, the chapter presents a summary of the findings.
4.2 Evaluating demographic information and warm-up questions through frequency analysis
Figure 4-1: Demographic information analysis
From figure 4-1 above, it can be seen that people from all age groups have been included in the questionnaires. The age groups of between 36-45 years account for the largest proportion at 43.69% while the age group of between 46-55 years account for the second largest proportion at 18.45%. These age groups account for the largest population since they have stable income and can purchase luxury brand like Coach without much struggle, and hence they can provide relevant and valuable information.
Additionally, from the figure, majority of the respondents at 33.98% earned between 20,001-30,000 RMB annually and respondents who earned 30,001-40,001 RMB annually account for the second largest proportion, at about 24.27%. This tallies with the annual income level of China’s middle and high-level class who can afford the luxury brands like Coach, hence ensure the reliability of the collected data.
A further look at figure 4-1 reveals that out of the 103 respondents, majority at 47.57% have been Coach Company customers for between 1-3 years. A significant proportion of 25.24% have been Coach’s customers for between 3-5 years. This indicates that most of the respondents have been a customer of Coach for a long time, hence implying that female consumer’s loyalty towards Coach is relatively high. This is because Coach provides female consumers with benefits and value such as providing solutions to their product issues hence leading to high customer loyalty.
The main aim of this research is to investigate the impact of social media marketing efforts on luxury brand loyalty in Chinese female market. In order to achieve this aim, the study collected 103 valid questionnaires in total from female consumers of Coach. And the following is the analysis of the collected data.
Figure 4-2: What are the common social media platforms that are adopted by Coach Company within China?
As can be seen from figure 4-2 above, of the 103 respondents in this research, as high as 30.10% of the respondents said that Coach Company adopts Sina Weibo as their common social media platform. Besides, a significant percentage of 29.13% of the respondents said that Wechat is the most common social media platform adopted by Coach Company within China. This indicates that Wechat and Sina Weibo are highly popular social media platforms adopted by Coach Company within China. This is because Sina Weibo and Wechat are well recognised and accepted amongst the Chinese people hence Coach will manage to reach many people through these social media platforms.
This research holds that people can get information concerning the company’s brands easily and faster through using Sina Weibo and Wechat as their main social media platform. In this regard, Coach Company should make use of this trend that more and more people are using Sina Weibo and Wechat, take full advantage and increase their marketing and promotional methods in these platforms to enhance brand awareness. Besides, Coach should also attach more importance on the other social media platforms which are underutilised but are still widely used by Chinese consumers in order to gain wider reach.
Figure 4-3: How often does Coach update its messages on social media?
As can be noted from figure 4-3, a huge proportion of the respondents at 39.81% said that Coach updates its messages on social media 3-6 times a week. Besides, a significant proportion of the respondents at 37.86% said that Coach updates its messages everyday. This indicates that Coach Company updates messages on social media very frequently.
This research holds that updating messages on social media regularly helps in reminding customers of the existence of the brand and to avoid the brand fading in their minds. Besides, regular updates of the messages in social media platforms such as Sina Weibo and Wechat enables the consumers to know about the new products launched by the company and price promotion activities in a timely manner. This helps in promoting purchase behaviour hence leading to increase in sales. Moreover, regular update of messages will enable Coach Company to gain valuable customer insights and the organisation can use this information to make better business decisions. In this regard, Coach Company should continue updating their messages regularly on social media to increase the frequency of engagement as well as experience a steady growth of their brand.
Figure 4-4: analysis of the reasons behind using social media platforms for Coach
As illustrated in the figure 4-4, the mean of “To check if there is any interesting activity” is generally low with a mean of 3.41. This indicates that a few people use the social media platforms of Coach Company to check if there is any interesting activity which implies that Coach does not do well in releasing some interesting activities in its social media platforms. This research holds that releasing interesting activities in social media helps in entertaining customers and shifts their attention away from realities of their lives thereby drawing them nearer to an organisation’s brand. Besides, making the brand to be entertaining and fun help in capturing attention of the audience and make the brand to be memorable in customer’s mind. Moreover, releasing interesting activities in social media helps in eliciting emotional response from customers and makes them feel connected to the brand. As such, Coach will lose many customers as a result of failure to release interesting activities in the social media. In this regard, Coach should consider sharing funny videos, pictures or music in social media platform to capture customer’s attention and make the brand to become memorable in the mind of customers.
Besides, the mean value for “To stay informed on the latest products” is the highest at 4.13, indicating that most people uses Coach’s social media platform to stay current and be informed on the company’s latest products. It thus implies that the company does well in timely release of the information concerning launching of new products. This research holds with the wide use of social media platforms in China like Sina Weibo, Wechat, etc., loyal consumers often pay close attention to the information released by the company in these platforms so that they can obtain any information concerning the new products and price promotion activities in first time. In this case, if the company could timely release the information, it could greatly increase consumers’ purchase intention after seeing the information. In this regard, Coach Company should publicise more information of their latest products in time. Publicising current and latest information needed by customers in a timely manner enables them to get current information regarding the brand’s products. As such, this positively impact on consumer loyalty since their needs will be satisfied quickly at that point in time.
Figure 4-5: What do you think about messages of Coach on social media?
As can be seen from figure 4-5 above, a huge proportion of the respondents at 35.92% were trustworthy of the messages of Coach on social media. Another significant percentage of 26.21% were very trustworthy of these messages while 18.25% of the total respondents remained neutral. A small proportion of the respondents at 8.74% were very untrustworthy of Coach messages in social media. This means that most respondents trust the messages that Coach Company conveys in social media.
This research argues that providing customers with relevant and true information on the social media helps in building positive relationship with customers thereby increasing their trustworthiness to the organisation. Besides, providing solutions to customer’s complaints in social media platforms builds a limitless relationship thereby leading to loyalty and trust for an organisation and brand. As such, the research suggest that Coach Company should focus on the content posted, offer solutions to common product issues, provide relevant and up-date information concerning the brand to win more of customer’s trust.
Figure 4-6: Descriptive statistical analysis on experience towards Coach’s marketing activities on social media
As can be seen from figure 4-6 above, the mean of “Coach says sorry and offers real solutions to customers through social media” is relatively high at 4.07. This indicates that most people believe that the company actually says sorry and provides real solutions to their problems. This research argues that being apologetic and providing real solutions to customer’s problems helps in fostering a deeper emotional commitment to an organisation’s brand thereby improving customer loyalty. Besides, offering an apology and providing real solutions to customer’s complaints in social media will generate more positive sentiments which then spread quickly on social web thereby attracting more customers to the organisation. Furthermore, the research holds that demonstrating empathy and providing customers with solutions to their problems shows them that the brand cares for them and their happiness. When customers have a feeling that an organisation is listening to their problems and is involved actively in helping them to solve the problem, their loyalty to the organisation increases and they will be more likely to purchase and engage with the brand in future.
Additionally, from the figure the mean of “Coach seems disrespectful towards customers through their social media activities” is relatively low, at 3.03, indicating that Coach Company respects its customers through their social media activities. This research holds that disrespecting customers on social media is likely to injure the image and reputation of a company. Further, treating customers with respect in social media will make an organisation to form a steady relationship with customers which increases brand loyalty. In this regard, it is suggested that Coach Company should continue offering real time solutions to customer problems and avoid disrespecting customers in social media to enhance customer loyalty and increase their chances of purchasing and engaging with the brand in future.
4.3 Descriptive statistics analysis
This research uses SPSS technique to undertake a descriptive analysis in order to determine which aspects to improve in each variable, thereby helping Coach Company to improve its social media marketing efforts to increase brand loyalty
Figure 4-7: Descriptive statistical analysis on the motives driving Coach towards social media marketing
From figure 4-7, it can be seen that the mean of “Coach is focussed on raising product awareness through social media platform” is relatively high at 3.86, indicating that one of the main motive driving Coach Company to use social media platform is to make customers aware of their products and services. This research holds that the company uses Sina Weibo and Wechat to make customers aware of their products and services since these are the most popular social media platforms in China. This research argues that organisations use social media to drive traffic and generate leads which leads to increased awareness of their products and services. Besides, marketing through social media enables organisations to get better visibility and exposure for their brands thereby giving the business a potential access to millions of customers. Additionally, marketing in social media through creating interesting content topics enables the brand to go viral by being liked, shared and commented on by target audiences which increases the awareness of the brand. Ideally, consumers are willing to share information concerning a brand that they trust which increases awareness. Moreover, social media marketing helps in establishing a healthy engagement with the audience. Through healthy engagement, an organisation can interact with its audience concerning matters pertaining to the business, its products and services or directly respond to customer’s complaints and inquiries. This enables an organisation to increase brand awareness and reach higher potential customers.
Additionally, from figure 4-7 it can be seen that “Coach is dedicated to increase brand loyalty of customers through social media marketing” also has a higher mean value, at 3.84. It thus indicates that another major motive for Coach to use social media marketing platform is to increase brand loyalty of customers. This research argues that organisations use social media marketing to offer unique services to exceed the needs and expectations of customers which helps in creating trust between the customers and the brand thereby leading to customer loyalty. Additionally, personalised messages in social media marketing such as sharing the brand news that resonates with customers enables an organisation to emphasize its unique value to customers thereby leading to customer loyalty. Customers are interested in knowing that an organisation understands them, their needs as well as their preferences. Moreover, when an organisation shows brand value and customer appreciation through social media marketing, they will be in a position to build brand loyalty and the customers will become their most loyal brand ambassadors across their social media channels. Commenting on social media and replying to personal messages is a perfect way that organisations can use to deepen their relationship with customers and humanise the brand. As such, it is suggested that Coach Company should continue using social media to raise product awareness and increase brand loyalty.
Figure 4-8: Descriptive statistical analysis of social media marketing efforts of Coach
As can be seen from figure 4-8 above, the mean of “There are efforts to provide customised messages through Coach’s social media sites” is relatively high at 3.55, indicating that Coach strives as much as possible to model its products to fit into specific consumer preferences in their social media sites. This research argues that consumers will be attracted to organisations that provide customised messages in their social media sites thereby motivating them to make purchases. Additionally, this research holds that providing specific messages intended for a specific audience motivates them to change their behaviour and consider purchasing such products. Furthermore, offering customised messages enables an organisation to provide the right kind of information to users and audience who are hungry for such kind of insights. This will keep them coming back to the site to read and share an organisation’s content thereby building a better brand loyalty.
Additionally, as can be seen from figure 4-8, the mean of “Coach is active in interacting with customers through live chatting and messaging” is relatively low at 2.82, indicating that the respondents believe that Coach do not interact much with its customers through live messaging and chatting, which implies that the company does not do well in this aspect. The research holds that the major social media marketing efforts for organisations can be categorised into four major dimensions of interaction, trendiness, entertainment and customisation. Live chatting and messaging belongs to the interaction category. Accordingly, live chatting and messaging enables an organisation to not only interact with its audience concerning the issues surrounding their products and services, but also respond to their complaints and requests in a timely manner. Therefore, since Coach does not do well in this aspect, consumers might have a feeling that the company does not care much about their issues and complaints. As such, Coach Company should keep their responses simple short and precise during live chatting and messaging to ensure active and healthy interaction with customers which leads to customer loyalty.
Figure 4-9: Descriptive statistical analysis on the effects of social media marketing efforts of Coach on Chinese female customers
As shown in the figure 4-9, the mean value of various items is relatively high. This indicates that social media marketing efforts of Coach have a big influence on Chinese female consumers.
Specifically, the mean of “Coach efforts in social media has enhanced sharing of information about the new products” is high at 3.73, indicating that Coach uses social media to share more information about their products. The research argues that respondents believe that through social media marketing, they have been able to know about variety of new products offered by Coach Company. Furthermore, the research holds that using social media to share information concerning an organisation’s new products provides consumers with the latest information which they can use to make purchase decisions.
Additionally, the mean of “Social media activities of Coach have increased my engagement to company’s products” is also significantly high at 3.66, indicating that social media adoption in marketing could greatly increase organisation’s engagement with its customers about its products. This research argues that providing customers with free benefits in social media such as offering solutions to common product issues and problems, increases the customer’s engagement with the brand in future. Furthermore, the research holds that social media marketing through telling the story of the brand, responding to customer’s questions, comments and feedback improves customer’s experience with the brand and increases their engagement level with the brand. Besides, marketing in social media through offering special promotions such as offering discounts and exclusive offers increases customer’s engagement with the brand thereby leading to loyalty. In this regard, it is suggested that Coach Company should make its brand fun and entertaining in addition to providing information that is helpful to customers to use their products to enhance their engagement level and increase customer loyalty to the brand.
Figure 4-10: Descriptive statistical analysis of luxury brand loyalty in Chinese female market
From figure 4-10, it can be noted that the mean of “I like the brand of Coach due to its activities on social media” is relatively high at 3.89, indicating that most respondents like Coach’s brand due to its activities on social media. This research argues that social media activities such as offering benefits and values towards customers help in loyalty development. This is because updating relevant information needed by customers, customer activities and current perspectives helps in improving their loyalty as their needs can be fulfilled quickly at that point in time. Besides, social media activities such as providing free benefits to customers as well as providing them with solutions to common product issues, encourages customers to purchase and engage with the luxury brand in future since they believe that the organisation cares for them and their needs. Furthermore, this research holds that social media activities such as providing customers with coupons, special promotions as well as free packages like additional accessories can go a long way in attracting customers to become loyal to an organisation’s brand.
Additionally, from the figure, it can be seen that the mean of “The information about Coach on social media show that it is preferable to its alternatives” is relatively low at 3.40, indicating that the information that Coach provides in social media does not make it to be preferred compared to its alternatives, hence implies that the company still needs to improve in this aspect. This research argues that Coach’s competitors offer more personalised information on social media hence customers prefer them instead of Coach’s products. Further, providing information that is relevant in helping customers use the products in social media enhances the engagement level between the customer and the brand, thereby making customers to prefer the brand instead of alternatives. This research holds that updating information needed by customers, current perspectives as well as offering products that fit their specific need during a particular period using social media enhances the level of customer loyalty. In this regard, the research proposes that Coach should offer activities that encourage involvement and participation with consumers in its social media such as content sharing and using applications such as games to draw the attention and interest of customers towards the brand. Moreover, an organisation’s activities in social media such as offering promotions and special gifts helps in attracting customers and makes them to become loyal to a particular brand.
4.4 Correlation analysis
This study employs the use of SPSS statistical technique to determine if the correlation between social media marketing efforts and female luxury brand loyalty. The correlation analysis helps in determining the correlation between the variables as well as the strength of the correlations. The following figure interprets the strengths of the correlations.
Figure 4-11 Interpretation of correlation coefficient
Source: Shevlyakov & Smirnov (2016)
Figure 4-12: Correlation analysis
As shown in the figure 4-12, the Pearson correlation coefficient for social media marketing and luxury brand loyalty is 0.491, and, sig=0.000, indicating a moderate correlation between the two variables at 0.01 significant level.
This research argues that social media marketing has a direct relationship with luxury brand loyalty. Organisations use social media as an entertainment tool to attract customers to its brand through contents that not only inform customers about its products but also to make them enjoy, relax and spend their time. This eventually leads to customer loyalty. Besides, organisations develop a strong and a lasting relationship with their customers in social media through self-disclosure as well as providing an avenue for exchange of ideas and discussion on matters that are related to the brand. This enhances customer loyalty. Comparing with previous studies, these research results agree with the opinion of Manthiou et al. (2013) that providing customers with the latest information concerning an organisation’s products in social media enables them to make informed decision concerning the brand which in turn leads to customer loyalty. Moreover, the use of social media marketing enhances relationship building between the customers and the brand which increases the level of customer loyalty (Tiago and Verissimo, 2014).
4.5 Trend analysis
This research conducted a trend analysis to analyse the relationship that exists between marketing efforts through social media marketing and luxury brand loyalty among Chinese female consumers.
Figure 4-13: Trend analysis between marketing efforts through social media and luxury brand loyalty in Chinese female market
In figure 4-13, the horizontal axis is the social media marketing efforts while the vertical axis is the luxury brand loyalty. From the scatter diagram above, it is notable that the scatter plots are distributed evenly towards both ends of the trend line, showing that social media marketing efforts and luxury brand loyalty are linearly and positively correlated. Besides, the linear correlation between the two variables is expressed in the equation Y= 0.5425X + 1.8304. It means that every unit increase or decrease in social media marketing efforts can produce 0.5425 unit of increase or decrease in luxury brand loyalty.
This research notes that marketing efforts through social media marketing have an important impact on luxury brand loyalty of female customers. Social media marketing achieves loyalty development through offering benefits and values to customers. Offering customers free benefits in social media such as providing solutions to common product issues makes customers to become loyal to a particular brand and might consider engaging with the luxury brand in future. This is because customers develop a feeling that the organisations cares for them and is interested in solving their product issues. Furthermore, proving customers with special promotions and free packages attract female shoppers into being loyal customers to particular brand. By giving customer’s an opportunity to access exclusive contents and deals towards an organisation’s products, customers are given a reason to remain loyal towards an organisation’s products. Additionally, social media marketing though the use of customer loyalty programs helps in increasing loyalty. Providing customers with an opportunity to redeem points and rewards each time they make a purchase not only gives them a reason to continue shopping in the organisation, but also encourages more social media interaction with an organisation’s brand. Moreover, social media marketing enhances communication aspects of participation and involvement with customers which draws their interest and attention towards the brand. Therefore, social media marketing efforts and luxury brand loyalty of female customers are positively correlated.
This research results from the trend analysis regarding social media marketing efforts has a strong influence on luxury brand loyalty of female customers, which resonates well with the opinion of Zhue and Chan (2015) that social media marketing approaches provides customers with up to date information concerning an organisation’s products. This relevant information has a positive impact on loyalty of consumers since their needs can be satisfied as quickly as possible. Besides, information sharing on social media can help in building trust of the consumer towards the brand since consumers trust information that comes from official sites of luxury brands, thereby enhancing brand loyalty (Lim et al., 2015). Therefore, in order to enhance brand loyalty, Coach Company should attach more importance to social media marketing. This can be achieved through providing up to date information concerning an organisation’s products as well as offering benefits and value to enhance loyalty development. Social media marketing approaches helps in building relationship through various techniques that helps in establishing a common and beneficial interaction thereby leading to brand loyalty.
In order to effectively realise the research objectives, frequency analysis of the respondent’s demographic information as well as the multiple-choice questions is conducted. The research finds that Coach Company adopts Sina Weibo and Wechat as the most common social media platforms. Besides, most customers noted that Coach updates its messages on social media 3-6 times per week and majority of the customers believe that Coach messages in social media are trustworthy. The research then makes a descriptive statistical analysis and identifies that most customers use social media activities for Coach to stay informed on the company’s latest products. Additionally, most customers believe that the company’s actually says sorry and offer real time solutions to their problems which make them to become loyal the company’s products. Furthermore, the motive behind Coach’s adoption of social media is to raise product awareness among its customers. The company achieves this through provision of customised services to build relationship and enhance familiarity thereby leading to customer loyalty. As such, many customers prefer the brand instead of alternatives due to the activities of Coach in social media platform. Lastly, after conducting the trend analysis and correlation analysis, this research believes that social media marketing and luxury brand loyalty are positively correlated.
Chapter 5: Conclusions
This chapter fulfils the research objectives outlined in chapter 1, and verify the relationship between marketing efforts through social media and luxury brand loyalty and then offers some suggestions on how Coach Company should improve its social media marketing to increase brand loyalty. At last, the chapter presents the research limitations and proposes recommendations for future research.
Taking Coach Company as the case, this research explored the effect that social media marketing efforts have on luxury brand loyalty in the Chinese female market. The research collected a total of 103 valid questionnaires from the respondents. From the analysis of the survey questionnaires collected, this research draws the following conclusions
Motives drive luxury brands to adopt social media marketing
From the data, it can be summarised that the major motives drive luxury brands to adopt social media marketing are as below.
Firstly, this research found out that one of the most important motive that Coach mostly uses social media platform is to raise product awareness. With the increased use of social media sites like Sina Weibo and Wechat within China, the research thus believes that organisations use such social media to generate leads and drive traffic which leads to increased awareness of products and services. Besides, marketing through social media enables organisations to get better visibility and exposure for their brands thereby giving the business a potential access to millions of female customers. These findings are similar to the opinion of Oztamur and Karadilar (2014) that marketing products and services through social media enables an organisation to obtain better exposure and visibility of its brand thereby giving the business potential access to many customers. Besides, social media marketing through creation of interesting topics enables the brand to viral by being liked, shared and commented on by target audience which increases the brand’s awareness (Kim and Jo, 2010).
Additionally, from the findings, it is revealed that another major motive for Coach to use social media platforms is to increase brand loyalty of customers. The findings found out that organisations use social media platforms to provide unique services to customers to exceed their expectations and needs which helps in building trust between the customer and the brand thereby leading to customer loyalty. These findings resonate well with the views of Verma et al. (2012), that when organisations shows customer appreciation and brand value through marketing in social media, they are likely to build loyalty and customers will become their most loyal brand ambassadors across their social media channels. Furthermore, Oztamur and Karadilar (2014) also note that replying to personal messages and commenting on social media is a perfect way that organisations can use to humanise the brand, deepen their relationship with customers and increase brand loyalty.
Social media marketing efforts applied by luxury brands to attract customers in the Chinese female market
This research found out that luxury brands strive as much as possible to provide customised messages in their social media sites. The research revealed that female consumers will get attracted to organisations that provide customised messages in their social media sites hence motivating them to make purchases. Besides, providing customised and specific messages intended to specific audience motivates them to consider changing their behaviour and purchase such products. These findings are similar to the opinion of Lim et al. (2015) that providing customers with customised messages enables organisations to provide its customers with the right kind of information which makes them to keep coming back to the site to read and share an organisation’s content thereby leading to a better brand loyalty.
Additionally, this research found out that Coach uses social media to share information about their products with the target female consumers. The respondents revealed that through social media, they have been able to know a variety of products offered by the company. Furthermore, the use of social media for marketing greatly increases female customer’s engagement with the brand. For instance, offering female customers with free benefits in social media such as providing solutions to common product problems and issues, increases female customer’s engagement with the brand in future. These research findings echoes the standpoint of Zu and Chen (2015) that social media marketing through responding to customer’s comments, questions and feedback improves the experience of customers with the brand and increases their engagement level with the brand. Moreover, providing customers with exclusive offers and discount increases their engagement with the brand thereby leading to customer loyalty (Lim et al., 2015).
How social media marketing efforts affect luxury brand loyalty in the Chinese female market
After making correlation analysis of the relationship that exists between social media marketing and luxury brand loyalty, this research found out that these two variables are moderately correlated at 0.01 significant level, with the correlation coefficient of 0.491. Furthermore, after conducting the trend analysis on the relationship between social media marketing and female consumers luxury brand loyalty, the research found out that social media marketing and luxury brand loyalty are linearly and positively correlated, while their relationship can be intuitively reflected in the equation Y= 0.5425X + 1.8304, indicating that each increase or decrease in social media marketing efforts can produce 0.5423 unit of increase or decrease in luxury brand loyalty.
This research thus summarises that social media marketing efforts of luxury brands could have a great influence on Chinese female consumers brand loyalty. Ideally, the social media marketing efforts of the luxury brands such as providing free benefits to female customers such as providing solutions to their product issues make them become loyal to the brand and they might consider engaging with the luxury brand in future. This is due to the fact that female customers believe that the organisation cares for them and is interested in solving their product issues. Moreover, social media marketing enhances communication aspects of participation and involvement with female customers which draws their interest and attention towards the brand. Therefore, social media marketing efforts and luxury brand loyalty of female customers are positively correlated. These findings conforms to the opinion of Zhue and Chan (2015) that marketing through social media through giving customers an opportunity to access exclusive contents and deals towards an organisation’s products enables customers to remain loyal to an organisation’s products. Besides, providing consumers with update and relevant information impacts positively on consumer loyalty since their needs can be satisfied as quickly as possible (Lim et al., 2015).
5.3 Suggestions for Coach Company to improve social media marketing efforts to improve customer loyalty
Coach Company should take the following measures to improve on its social media marketing efforts to increase female customer loyalty;
(1) Update messages regularly in social media. Coach Company should update messages once a day in the popular social media platforms like Sina Weibo and Wechat to enable consumers know more about the new products launched by the company and promotion activities in a timely manner. Besides, the company should ensure the varieties of the messages, for example, in addition to disclose the information of the new products and product promotions, it should pay close attention to some interesting and social hotspots and update them timely to let followers know. This could help attract consumers’ attention. Besides, regular update of messages in social media will enable the organisation to gain valuable customer insights, increase the frequency of engagement and experience a steady growth of the brand.
(2) Release interesting activities in its social media platforms. Coach should consider releasing some interesting activities in its social media platforms to capture the attention of the audience and make the brand to become memorable in their minds. Additionally, releasing interesting activities in social media such as sharing funny videos, pictures or music helps in eliciting emotional response from customers and makes them feel connected to the brand which increases customer loyalty.
(3) Actively interact with customers in the social media platform, for instance by through live chatting and messaging. Active interaction with customers through live chatting end messaging will enable Coach to interact with customers concerning issues surrounding their products and services as well as responding to their requests and complaints in a timely manner. Additionally, the responses should be kept short and precise during live chatting and messaging to ensure active and healthy interaction which in turn improves customer loyalty.
5.4 Limitations encountered and further recommendations
This research exhibits some limitations. Firstly, concerning data collection, the research has used questionnaire surveys only. This limits the respondents and hinders the researcher from getting in depth understanding and insights as well as opinions of the respondents. This might lead to inconclusive research results. As such, it is recommended that future research should consider combining questionnaires and interviews to generate more accurate data through obtaining an in-depth views and opinions of the respondents. Secondly, in terms of sampling, this research utilised convenience sampling. This method of sampling is unable to guarantee the sample representativeness which might lead to inaccurate research results. In this regard, it is advised that future studies can consider adopting other sampling techniques such as random sampling to ensure the sample representativeness leading to more accurate results.
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Silas Nyamweya (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on June 29, 2021:
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