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Impact of Social Media Marketing on Chinese Customers’ Intention to Watch a Movie-a Case of Maleficent 2

Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics


Section 1: Overview and research question (s)

Internet users in China are also quite active on social media. Go-Globe (2019) notes that over 91% of Chinese online users own a social media account. Furthermore, most of these users employ social media in making researches on brands and products prior to making a purchase. They also make comments regarding their purchase experience through and on social media while also sharing their brand and product experiences with their social networks. The report further went on to establish that while around 87% of Chinese users have at least employed social media to do research pertaining to a particular company, 86% of them have at one time or another bought products via social media platform. Strikingly, about 93% of online shoppers in China have at least left a comment on their respective shopping experience through social media. Furthermore, about 40% of young Chinese who live in urban centers regard social media as their main source of information. This makes sense for any business, whether local or international to take seriously the role of social media in their marketing endeavors. Today more than ever, social media is becoming a forceful way of offering interactive platform where brands are able to forge a positive relationship with their existing as well as potential customers (Bank, 2014). Although China’s social media platforms is different with those of the Western countries, they still follow the basic regulations of digital marketing. Olivier (2016) finds that several local and international businesses in China have been able to employ social media in marketing their products with much effect and success. The Consultancy report also found out that approximately 71% of businesses have a plan to invest money into digital marketing currently and in the near future. On the other hand, only 20% of business wants to focus on traditional marketing (MarketingtoChina, 2019).

Movies are a means of portraying culture, propaganda, leisure, education and culture through influencing the thinking and feeling of viewers (Hoeckner et al, 2011). The power of films is actually manifested through their influence of a nation’s outlook and wealth (Seamon, 2015). According to Zacks (2015), films can benefit the economy and improve people’s mental health. However, it is not possible for people to know the existence of a particular movie if there is no marketing for these movies. Marich (2013) reveals that film promotion and marketing endeavors are so crucial in creating awareness to people concerning existing and upcoming films. This study’s core aim is to offer relevant information to movie studios pertaining the marketing of existing and new movies through the use of social media.

Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil is fantasy adventure movie written by Linda Woolverton, directed by Ronning Joachim and produced by Walt Disney. The movie which was only released recently in 2019 is a sequel to the Maleficent 2014 where the lead actor Angelina Jolie returns to continue with the title role. Since the film’s release on October 18, 2019, it has managed to gross over $490 million worldwide (Jolie, 2019). As of December 10, 2019, the film has grossed over $112.4 million in Canada and the United States as well as $372.5 million in other regions leading to a total of $485.5 million worldwide. However, in order to break-even it is estimated that the movie requires to gross $400–475 million globally and around $500 million if has to generate profit. This requires intensive marketing endeavors to enable it increase viewership (The numbers, 2019).

The main aim of this research is the impact of social media marketing on Chinese intention to watch a movie?” Specific objectives are as indicated below;

1. To evaluate the advantages of social media marketing comparing with traditional marketing;

2. To analyze how the wechat marketing (for example, information quality, opinion leaders’ comment, and online interaction) affect Chinese customers’ intention to watch the Maleficent 2;

3. To recommend which areas can be improved in the social media marketing to attract more Chinese customers;

Research question

What is the impact of Social media marketing on Chinese customers’ intention to watch a movie-taking Maleficent 2 as the case?

With the advent of social media and its utilization by marketers, it is prudent to establish its implication in marketing endeavors as compared to the conventional forms of marketing (Sakas, et al, 2015). Indeed, many businesses have benefited from social media marketing and a number of studies have been done concerning the same. However, there is a research gap pertaining to how the movie industry has benefited from social media marketing (Bank, 2014). It is noted that approximately 97% of marketers are using social media to reach their audiences with positive results (Smith, 2019). One of the major reasons for this trend owes to more customers who are now spending time on social media channels (Kumar et al, 2016). Despite these immense benefits, research has yet to make it clear on how movie makers and marketers have exploited the use of social media to attract the audience. This includes the implication of this new digital platform in movie marketing (Bennett, 2014). Therefore, this research will aim to bridge the existing gap in literature.

Section 2: Literature searches

The search for current 2014-2019 peer reviewed research articles will be done through the online databases, search engines, and physical libraries. These databases include Academic Search Premier, Emerald, Ebscohost, Proquest, Sage Journals, Google search engine and Academic search complete. Other databases include Emerald, Academic OneFile, JSTOR, and Gale. Most of the online databases are scholarly in nature and with a diversity of literature including books, academic articles, journals, magazines that relates to the research area. The reason for relying on these online databases is due to their high credibility. Notably, authors needing to publish their journals online have to meet specific standards and verify the source of their information through citations and links (Žukauskas, Vveinhardt and Andriukaitienė, 2018). This means that baseless personal opinions that lack facts and proper backup are not acceptable. As such, academic journals from recognized online databases are not only credible but also authoritative as it is possible to verify the given facts from original sources. This credibility will influence the overall quality of the proposed study. Journals from online databases also offer clarity as they acknowledge various contrasting opinions (Panda and Gupta, 2014). This will help this research to offer critical discussions. Online databases to be used will also save time and offer searching advantages through various search commands such as word searching and searching limiting.

Furthermore, with the vast volume of information that is available in the online databases, it is quite challenging to get the relevant information (Groh, 2018). As such, this research will utilise search engines in which keywords will be typed in order to filter the results. The search terms that will be employed include Social media marketing, impact of social media in marketing, wechat marketing, advantages of social media marketing, Maleficent 2 watching, enhancing social media marketing. It is anticipated that through the use of these terms, the researcher will be able to retrieve the information that duly addresses the research objectives. Variations of these terms were employed so as to make sure that the search results were exhaustive in nature. The search engine of choice for this research is Google. This is because Google search engine offers personalized user experience and easy interface as well as its popularity across the globe. To ensure that the study was current, only peer reviewed articles from 2014 to 2019 will be used. In addition, articles that were more relevant to China will be more preferred compared to those from other contexts. This is to ensure that the information has more relation to China, which is the context of this study.

Section 3: The overall research strategy

Research methods

A research method is basically an approach which is employed in implementing a particular plan. Research method is closely related with research design. This owes to the fact a good research design ensures that the data and information received is able to meet the research objectives in an effective manner (Soeters, et al, 2014). Nonetheless, the type of research methods to be adopted largely depends on the research objectives. Furthermore, the subject to be studied is also a great determinant of the method to be adopted (Howell, 2013). Common research methods include surveys, interviews, observation, focus groups, experiments, secondary data analysis and mixed methods (which includes combining some the mentioned ones). In most cases, surveys are mostly employed in when short answers are required from the subjects instead of the extensive responses anticipated in qualitative interviews. However, although a survey could help the author in collecting data in a shorter-time frame, it does not have extensive details (Franklin, 2012).

This study anticipates employing a quantitative research method to address the objectives. This owes to the fact that this approach makes it possible to restructure and reduce a complex problem to a limited number of variables. Furthermore, the approach is recognized to be objective and most reliable (Corbetta, 2011). Therefore, it is hoped that through this method, the researcher will be able to answer the objectives in the most effective way.

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Research philosophy

Research philosophy could be referred as the development of a study assumption, its nature and knowledge. An assumption is considered to be a preliminary declaration of reasoning, but which rests on philosophizing people’s insights and knowledge which are essentially an outcome of intellectual activity. Research philosophy is a technique which when implemented enables the researcher to turn ideas into insights within the context of the study (Žukauskas, et al, 2018).

In academic studies, two main research paradigms are applied, positivism and interpretivism. Positivism method is mainly based on a scientific approach to investigation. This approach relies on observation, experimentation, and reason that are based on reason. According to Robertson et al (2017), the best approach to comprehend human behavior is that based on reason, observation and experimentation. Furthermore, positivism is employed in searching for cause and effect relationship within nature. Researchers choosing positivism approach are those wishing to interpret observations in terms of measurable entities or facts. Additionally, research that is based on this paradigm largely depends on deductive logic, creating hypothesis, evaluating these hypothesis, providing operational definitions, mathematical calculations, equations, undertaking extrapolations and expressions so as to arrive the conclusions. The aim of this system is to explain a phenomena as well as making predictions which is based on measurable outcomes.

The interpretivism research also known as constructive research paradigm focuses on understanding the subjective world of human and social experience. The system emphasizes on getting into the center of the subjects under investigations so as to speak, comprehend and interpret the thoughts of the subjects as well as how the subject deduces the meaning from their contexts (Ponelis, 2015). All efforts are made to understanding the subject’s viewpoint instead of the observer’s/researcher’s viewpoint. The main tenet of interpretivism paradigm is its principle of socially constructed reality. This explains why this paradigm is also referred as constructivist paradigm. For this research approach, theory formulated is grounded on the data obtained by the researcher’s actions (Robertson et al, 2017).

This research intends to employ positivism research paradigm to enable the researchers understand the impact of social media marketing on Chinese customers’ intention to watch a movie. The researcher can only be able to obtain the thoughts and perceptions of movie watchers/audience in China by asking them questions related to their experience in social media. With this approach, the researcher will be in a position to understand the subject’s viewpoint regarding how social media has influenced their movie viewership. Considering that positivist research is specific to context, the data will be collected through surveys where questions will be designed based on contextual factors in Chinese social media marketing.

Accordingly, quantitative research approach will be utilized in data collection. Quantitative research is basically about numbers. It entails conducting a surveying the subjects through a structured questionnaire. The findings are usually expressed numerically (Eyis, 2016). This approach was relied upon to enable the researchers in measuring the perceptions, behavioral intentions, attitudes, and knowledge of the subjects in relation to the research questions. This method was also deemed best in answering the question of the “impact” of social media in movie watching and hence; provides recommendations on how businesses can improve their use of social media marketing. Generally, the results obtained from the quantitative research will be good for estimating the impact of social media in movie marketing. Since quantitative research is numerical, there will be clarity of the outcome which also makes it easier to interpret. It is also easy to repeat the survey as well as make it possible to track changes over time. However, one of the demerits of this system is that it limits the answers the respondents are required to give. This is because the questions are structured and hence; the respondents will not have the opportunity to express their own sentiments. This means that the researcher must ask the right questions, the right way and the right options for answering the questions. Furthermore, to provide reliable results, a larger sample is needed (Groh, 2018).

Research strategy

A research strategy is specifically a description of how the research will be conducted. Existing research strategies include case studies, survey, experiment, phenomenology, action research, grounded theory and ethnography (Denscombe, 2014).

In the current study, the author preferred surveys owing to their ability to collect data from a larger sample. In addition, they are less costly and can be done online and through mobile devices. Surveys are also important in describing the characteristics of a larger population. There is no other research approach that harbor this capability; making it possible to ensure accurate sample to obtain targeted outcome where conclusions and recommendations can be drawn (Ponto, 2015). Other benefits of surveys is the possibility of administering them in different modes including social media surveys, email surveys and online surveys, paper surveys, telephone surveys, mobile surveys and face to face surveys. In this case, the author will use online based survey. It is also important to consider that the anonymity nature of surveys allows the subjects to provide valid and candid answers. Anonymous surveys have a capability of providing unambiguous and honest responses compared to other form of research methodologies.

Section 4: Research design features

Research instruments

Research instruments refer to tools of measurements that are designed for the purpose of collecting data on a research subject. Some of the research instruments include questionnaires, interview guide, achievement tests, observation tools/guides and focus group guides (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2012). However, this research will employ questionnaires to gather data from respondents who will be potential and existing movie watchers. Among the reasons for using questionnaire instrument is that it can be placed on the company’s website or social media account and be accessed by potential participants. Furthermore, the cost of designing and administering questionnaires will be minimal compared to other data collections forms. What is more, questionnaires are a practical way of gathering data from a targeted group, in this case, movie watchers. The researcher will find it easier to choose and pick questions to ask the respondents, whether multiple choices, closed ended or open ended questions (Bryman, 2012).

The specific questionnaire will have three core parts. The first part will be a welcome note where participants will be welcomed and informed on the purpose of the study, with a right to agree or decline the invite. The second part is the respondent’s demographics/background information while the third part measures the impact of social media marketing on movie watching. Among the questions in the questionnaires will be on whether the participants had seen their favorite movie being promoted via social media, other forms of media that had been used to market the video, how the viewers were influenced to watch the movie.

Section 5: Sampling

The target of this survey is customers who had watched or intended to watch the movie Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil. The survey questionnaire will be sent to respondents through wenjuanxing website, which is a well-known site offering online questionnaire design. Unlike traditional way of conducting survey questionnaire, the use of wenjuanxing website offers convenience and facilitation, while ensuring low or no cost. In this case, snowball sampling will be used. According to Bryman (2012), snowball sampling is a non-probability technique through which identified research subjects can provide referrals to get more research subjects. The aim is to only get respondents who have watched or interested in watching the movie Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil. Snowball sampling also known as chain-referral method will involve those who have watched the film to nominate other people they know who have watched it. The sampling will continue until enough sample size is attained. Snowballing has some advantages to this research. Firstly, it is quick to obtain samples as referrals can work very fast to get many participants (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2012). It is also cost effective because referrals are from the primary data source. However, snowball sampling has some limitations in that it introduces bias as participants may refer only those people with similar traits. Furthermore, people referred may lack cooperation and refuse to participate which may lead to low turnout and hence low representativeness of the findings (Ragin, 2014).

The online survey was designed according to the specifications of wenjuanxing website which is the platform through which questionnaire will be distributed and retrieved from the research participants. In order to reach more customers of Maleficent 2, the researcher will send the link to friends in wechat and then ask them to refer some of their friends who they know have watched Maleficent 2 movie. The link will redirect the willing participants to the wenjuanxing website when the questionnaire can be downloaded and filled, and then uploaded to the site. In this way, the research will easily retrieve all the uploaded questionnaires to prepare them for the analysis. Through this online questionnaire survey, the research targets about 120 valid questionnaires. A period of one week will be given in order to allow enough time to get a good sample size and increase the chance of getting many valid questionnaires. After attaining the targeted number, the researcher will save all filled questionnaire in the laptop ready for the analysis.

Data analysis will be done through Statistical Package for Social Sciences SPSS. Through this method, the analysis will be through frequency, descriptive and trend analyses. The frequency analysis will help to evaluate the data regarding general questions and demographic information of the participants. Furthermore, descriptive analysis will be conducted to describe the advantages of social media marketing comparing with traditional marketing, as well as the information quality, opinion leaders’ comment, and online interaction of wechat marketing. Finally, trend analysis will be used to analyze how the wechat marketing (for example, information quality, opinion leaders’ comment, and online interaction) affects Chinese customers’ intention to watch the Maleficent 2;

Section 6: Limitations

The first limitation of this study is that it relies on questionnaires for data collection. Accordingly, questionnaires deny participants the chance to give detailed information as the responses are controlled within the scope of the questions. This means that rich data and information cannot be obtained and hence the research cannot get better insights that enrich the research findings. These coupled with snowball sampling creates a possibility of respondents giving dishonest answers. This can occur especially to respondents who are wishing to protect their privacy or those with social desirability. There is also a possibility of some questions being left unanswered as well as problems in analyzing some questions on the part of the respondents (Corbetta, 2011). Additionally, it is not possible to get the feelings and emotions of the respondents in their responses since they are not given that opportunity nor is the researcher interacting with them. Furthermore, this research is mainly a case study, implying that it may be hard to generalize or replicate the findings to other industries (Emmel, 2014). This research is also subject to a researcher bias taking into concern that the participants will give referrals of other people within their circles, and hence their traits are almost the same. In this respect, future researchers should consider incorporating mixed method of research, where the authors will be able to get both qualitative and quantitative data so as to get the respondents sentiments and emotions. Furthermore, it would also be prudent if the researchers could use other methods of sampling such as probability sampling techniques so as to avoid the bias common with non-probability sampling methods (Smyth, and Bond, 2004). Moreover, taking into concern that most participants will be drawn from the wechat account, there is also likelihood that most of these fans may have a group think. In this respect, the researcher will urge the respondents to give honest responses in line with their real situations and avoid hearsay and the opinion of others.

Section 7: Data management, ethics and safety

According to Smyth, and Bond (2004), researchers have a responsibility to ensuring that data and information from research participants is duly protected and kept safe. Files generated from electronic questionnaires and containing identifiable and personal data such as names will be password protected and encrypted. The storage will be done on desktop and laptop computers, with backups on flash-discs and memory cards. The author will ensure that no third party will access the collected information. Particular care will be taken into concern when sharing computer files with such people as research assistants or when transferring data to other places. The safety of the data and information obtained from data collection will be taken seriously.

Informed consent is also a critical aspect that researchers need to take into consideration when undertaking research. This means that participants have to engage in the questionnaire survey in a voluntarily, knowingly, intelligently and willingly manner (Corbetta, 2011). In this regard, the author will make sure that the participants are duly informed the intent of the research and informed of their rights for voluntary participation. In addition, they will be informed that they are free to disengage themselves from the study or avoid answering specific questions which they think are not relevant to their contexts. This means that their full consent will be sought when requesting for their participation in the research.

Bryman and Bell (2007) also adds that should not exaggerate or deceive the participants concerning the aims and objectives of the study. Accordingly, the researcher will endeavor to be as truthful as possible and work to ensure that no point or information is exaggerated to participants whatsoever. Moreover, the researcher does not harbor any conflict of interest other than using if for academic purposes and nothing else. Against, all communications related to the research will be undertaken in the line of transparency and honesty. This will be the same case with the respondent’s privacy which will be protected in all ways possible.


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Silas Nyamweya (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on December 25, 2020:

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