Effectiveness of Social Media as a Branding Tool in the UK Automobile Industry: A Case Study Of BMW

Abstract:

The purpose of this study is to analyse the effectiveness of social media in brand building exercise in UK automobile industry. Analysing the impact of social media is a crucial agenda as it is a proven fact that social media has a significant role in the process of brand building exercise. The purpose of the study is to establish necessary justifications on the impact of social media in the brand building exercise of UK automobile industry.

The overall research is divided into few chapters. First chapter describes the overall background of the study. Also research aim and objectives are described in this chapter. The concept of social media and impact of the same on branding has been described in second chapter.

The significant part of the research is methodology which has been described in chapter 3.  A positivism research philosophy has been chosen by the researcher whereas the research approach is deductive in nature. However, the researcher has chosen descriptive research design to justify the effectiveness of social media in enhancing the brand image. Primary and secondary two types of data collection method have been used while conducting the research. Primary data collection is divided into quantitative and qualitative data analysis that has been conducted to justify the findings with the objective of the research. Also, MS Excel has been used by the researcher to attain an errorless result of the quantitative study.

The findings and analysis of the research has been described in chapter 4. The findings showed that social media is effective enough to create and increase the brand image and loyalty of an organisation. The brand value of BMW has been increased by effective utilisation of social media. Finally, some recommendations such as focusing more on content marketing, finding the right time to communicate with the customers has been made to improve the brand image of the UK automobile industry.

 

Acknowledgement:

The present research has helped a lot in enhancing my knowledge about the impact of social media in maintaining the brand image in organisations. The study was focused on BMW, UK and the research has created lot of knowledge regarding the effectiveness of the same for building increased growth and revenue. However, I would like to thank my senior for helping me in completing the research. My academic guide has also helped a lot in completing the research. I would like to thank the present customers of BMW who agreed to become a part of the research and given the valuable time and response on the topic. Furthermore, I would like to thank the middle line managers of BMW for giving the valuable opinions. Finally, I would like to offer my gratitude to my friends for giving me support at the time of collecting data from the sources. After getting all these support from all people, I could successfully complete the project.

Thanking You,

Yours Sincerely,

 

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.0 Introduction:

In the present business environment, enhancing the brand image has become a significant factor in creating a wider customer base in UK retail industry. Social media helps to create the awareness among the customers by drawing the attention about the feature of the product and the services being offered by the organisations. The researcher would attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of social media on enhancing the brand image and brand value of the organisations and BMW has been chosen in this context. This study would focus on analysing whether social media is impacting positively on the brand image of BMW and the way of attaining the brand value of UK automobile sector.

1.1 Background of the study:

In today’s business scenario, the marketing environment is changing significantly and the traditional way of marketing is going to become obsolete very soon. As stated by Angella and Eunju (2013), usage of social media could stand at very crucial point in the success of  maintaining good inter personal relations and inter organisational relations. On the contrary, Dabholkar (2004) argued that organisational success depends not only on managing the relations, but also taking into consideration a bigger reference group. Considering the fact, Day (2009) stated that social media could be termed as the web based representation which could turn the communications into bilateral conversations that could further be considered as major transformations.

The operational area of BMW is niche market segment where it focuses mostly on the luxurious market and on the perfection driven quality. Hence, to every automobile manufacturer, sustaining a competitive advantage for capturing a greater market share has become the most important challenge in present business scenario. In this context, Dekimpe et al. (2007) identified that the consistent performance driven quality complements the pricing at the premium level. In automobile sector, the perceived user value is very high, therefore maintaining the high branding standard becomes very difficult to the automobile industry (Keller and Lehmann, 2003). However, for marketing organisations, social media has emerged as one of the most favourite platforms which acts as a powerful way of connecting to particular target market in an intellectual manner (Kim and Ko, 2010).

According to the opinion of Kozinets et al. (2010), organisations need to focus mostly on social media including the PR communication for establishing the connectivity to the customers. According to the past researches, more than 93% of the B2B marketer uses one of the forms of social media for creating a concrete interaction with the customer base. It has been observed that proper usage of social media could create the loyalty within the consumers and it can improve the performance of dealers of automobile industry (Naveed, 2012).

By using social media, automobile industry can build its brand value to the customers. Shukla (2011) opined that social media helps an organisation to decide what position an organisation is looking for and what the organisation want to convey about the facts and proposals to the customers. In fact, with great content and giving effort consistently, social media can build a brand identity and build a reputation around by means of consistent effort and great content.

Social media enhances the number of follower resulting in higher growth of the firm. A substantial social media audience could create a snowball effect which can attract new customers, joint ventures, media interviews and all other kind of opportunities (Smith et al. 2012). Apart from this, social media could be used as a powerful tool to establish the authority in the field by sharing great content, serving audience, answering questions resulting in building loyal fans for the organisations.

Considering the case of BMW, it entertains the fans by providing daily updates about the featuring images of the cars. It uses face book where more than 14 millions likes can be found with over 144000 people talking about the same (www.bmw.com, 2014). Not only this, BMW owns and maintains 54 separate face book pages that are related to its geographic areas, the products and the business segments. Furthermore, BMW is running far more than Audi or even Ferrari in the context of post averages around 60000 likes, 600 comments and 2000 shares. The strategy followed by BMW has increased the number of fans of BMW on the face book page by 14%. Furthermore, the awareness of BMW’s sponsorship of London 2012 has helped it to reach over 25 million consumers by the campaign (www.bmw.com, 2014).

The effective promotion in social media has helped BMW in achieving good brand image in UK automobile industry. However, a comparatively lesser growth has been observed in other automobile companies of the UK. Hence, employing a structured social media communication can help the UK automobile industry in achieving a ggod brand image like BMW.

1.2 Research Rationale:

What is the research issue?

From last few years social media has been evolved as the new media and the best way to reach the target audience. Arrival of Web 2.0 technology allows the organisation to interact directly with the consumer segment. Considering the fact, Shukla (2011) stated that negative “Electronic Word of Mouthing” could create a disastrous effect on the organisational brand image and value. Hence, large organisations such as BMW need to ensure that the branding activities are monitored properly to protect the brand image ensuring the enhanced perceived user value.

Why it is considered as an issue?

Small, medium or large all types of organisations use social media for ensuring the growth of the firm thereby projecting appositive brand image in the market place. So, it is very important to understand the actually derived benefit from these types of activities for determining the evidence about the magnitude of contributing the growth towards the organisation.

What is the reason of keeping social media as an important issue presently?

Automobile industry has witnessed a huge growth after the recession period. As a result, an increased demand in the marketplace has been observed in a significant way. Increased competitive environment has led the organisations searching for new strategies for reaching the target segment most effectively. Furthermore, social media could be used as a most suited promotional tool to pinpoint the specific market segment in the competitive business environment.

1.3 Research Aim:

The main aim of the research is to analyse the effectiveness of social media as a branding tool in UK automobile industry considering the case study of BMW.

1.4 Research Objectives:

The research objectives are mentioned below:

  • To understand the present branding strategy that helps in building the brand image of BMW.
  • To evaluate the impact of social media practices on marketing and branding for BMW
  • To find out the way of using social media practices effectively in building brand image exercise for the organisation.

1.5 Research Questions:

The main research question for the research is going to be “What is the significance of social media in improving the brand image of BMW?” However, some questions needs to be answered to answer on the main research question

RQ1: How much social media stands effective as compared to the conventional media?

RQ2: What is the present branding strategy of BMW?

RQ3: How intensely does BMW involve in social marketing media?

RQ4: What are the responses gained from the target audience?

RQ5: What are the benefits of social media marketing?

1.6 Purpose of the research:

The main purpose of the study is to analyse the impact of social media marketing as a branding tool in UK automobile industry. The study has been undertaken for justifying the importance of advertisement in gaining a good brand value and brand image in the international business scenario. Furthermore, this study also highlights the changes in consumer buying behaviour with the concept of social media marketing. Apart from this, present study is being focused on the various branding strategy and the evaluation of the significance of social media practices on marketing and the brand for the organisation. However, the study has been conducted to develop the knowledge among the readers about the effectiveness of social media as a branding tool in automobile industry, UK.

1.7 Dissertation Structure:

To complete the research successfully, the researcher has compiled the below mentioned structure:

                              

Introduction

 

Literature Review

 

Methodology

 

Findings and Analysis

 

Conclusion

 

 

Figure 1: Structure of the dissertation

(Source: Created by author)

Chapter 2: Literature Review:

All theories and models used in the past researches have been stated in this chapter. The need and the importance of social media advertising have also been described in this study.

Chapter 3: Methodology:

Methodology explains the methods and approaches adopted for conducting the whole study. This chapter gives information about the data collection process followed by the sampling process and method followed by the researcher.

Chapter 4: Findings and Analysis:

In this chapter, the outcomes and the analysis of the study have been presented in the form of graphs and charts. Quantitative and qualitative measures have been taken to get the accurate results.

Chapter 5: Conclusion:

An inference is drawn in this chapter according to the total study. Research objectives are linked with the inference for justifying it with the objectives of the research. Apart from this, some suggestions have been made on the same for establishing the rigidity of the topic.

 

Chapter 2

Literature Review

2.0 Introduction:

In today’s business scenario, social media has become an important media of extending the business of the retailers to a wider range of consumers. As stated by Na Woon et al. (2003), social media acts as a connection between the consumer and the brand of an organisation. Social media could become a helpful means for the organisations who are striving to gain a competitive advantage in the present business environment. This chapter gives the description about the social media and the relationship exists between social media and branding followed by advantage and disadvantages of social media impacting on organisational brand image and the value.

2.1 Social media:

Social media has raised its importance in the modern era by moving away the existence of traditional marketing theories in gaining the brand image and value of the organisation. As stated by Geierhos (2011), social media is a group of internet based applications which allows the creating and exchanging the content that is generated by the user and needs to be changed as per the requirement. Basically, all retailer needs to understand each and every aspect of social media and its effectiveness as a marketing tool (Packer, 2011). Social media allows the direct interaction among the user and the organisation which helps the firm in identifying the actual need of the customers. However, it has been observed that around 64% of the total UK population wants to solve the problems about a product via online media. The basic utility of social media is to serve the customers as and when required in a cost effective way.

The site needs to contain profile of the users, contents and the process which permits the users to connect with each other and posting many comments related to the common interests such as politics, sports or fashion (Yin, 2009). Contrary to this, Schembri et al. (2010) argued that consumers’ perception about the social media stands for an important factor and the same depends on the factor termed as Consumers’ Sentiment toward Marketing. It is related to the general feelings of the consumer about the market place and the marketing status (Gommans et al. 2004). The main factor that could create the positive perception of consumption activities is creating the awareness of the consumer group about the technological advancement. As stated by Fornell and Wernerfelt (2007), the advancement of consumer technology readiness is very important factor to judge the pulse of the target customer whether the customer are aware of the social media or not. If any consumer group perceives social media negatively, it will become a complete mess up for an organisation to implement social media as a marketing tool and it will become unrewarding (Laroche, 2013). Hence, analysing technology readiness could determine the marketing strategy through interactive advertising could become good for the retailers in the target market.

2.2 Social media and marketing:

Social media has become an important phenomenon which has an important aspect in marketing mix. Considering the fact, Mangold (2009) stated that social media has created a revolution in the process of interacting with the customers and needs to be changed time to time depending on the choices of the consumers. As compared to the traditional marketing, social media stands more effective in the context of brand management perspective and the changing consumer behaviour (Davis, 2009).

In present business scenario, many companies are turning down the profits only due to its huge investments in advertising strategy. On the contrary, Reichheld and Schefter (2005) argued, since the popularity of social media has increased rapidly, other media channels are also facing the down turn in the business resulting in lowering profit levels. In has been found that, the organisations have tightened the allocated advertising budget and concentrated more on online advertising mediums. Similar statement has been stated by Walden (2007) that organisations are shifting advertising priorities to align in a better way with recent buyers who are much technology savvy and addicted to social media.

However, the company can share its ideas, offerings, facilities related to the product with its customer base easily (James, 2006). Marketing objectives could be realised by using social media by means of face book, twitter etc. In this context, Wang and Emurian (2005) opined that good marketing objectives enable the organisation to acquire new customers and retain it easily in the long run. Therefore it is very important to find out the suitable marketing platforms for gaining a wider customer base and enhancing its brand value.

Although the online marketing system through social media stands as an effective tool in enhancing the brand image of an organisation, still it has got some disadvantages. Williams and Cothrell (2004) stated that cultural and language differences could create some major difficulties while gathering information across national boundaries. Another major problem is to give guarantee of making understand the consumer group about the actual thoughts of the marketers towards analysing the need of the customers. However, a good marketing objective could enable the marketer to gain new customers and retaining the pool in a long run.

2.3 Relationship of Social media and branding:

Brands could be considered as an important asset of an organisation. According to the opinion of Williams and Williams (2008), social media could be utilised as a brand enhancement factor by the implication of word of mouth factor. Word of mouth can impact significantly on the brand image of an organisation and it can be treated as an informal way of passing advice to the consumers related to the products or services offered by the firm (Sherry, 2003).

Social media communication channel allows the integration of customer relationship management (CRM) within its core process which helps the firm in creating brand loyalty of the organisations. The integrated process has become a vital agenda as the integrated process helps the organisation to understand the need of the customer and serving the customers accordingly. On the other hand, social media and CRM analyses the perception of the customers by sharing through web conversations. This approach creates new prospective customers to the organisation.

2.4 Effective social media factors enhancing brand loyalty:

Social media helps the firm by several ways to improve the brand image of the firm:

Increasing brand awareness:

Social media enhances the brand awareness of the customers by extensive engagement via online communication. The features and services offered by the firm are posted in social media along with the servicing facility thereby increasing the brand awareness among the users.

Increasing accessibility:

Social media communication has become a convenient medium to express the thoughts and queries of the organisation and the customers respectively. Increased accessibility of social media has helped the organisation to improve the service quality of the firm which can enhance the long term customer satisfaction which eventually increases the brand loyalty. As stated by Srinivasan et al. (2005), customer satisfaction depends on more accessibility with the organisation.

Engaging more customers:

Social media allows the firm to communicate with millions of customers by using social media within a little time span (Steenkamp and Geyskens, 2006). Organisations sometimes utilises ‘Hashtag’ campaign via ‘Twitter’ which effectively creates positive perception among the users. This process reach millions of customers in a little time period and the same can effectively enhance the brand image of the firm.

Rewarding fans via online media:

Many of the UK automobile organisations reward the fans over online media. The rewards are given in the context of any purchase, any good comments or for giving good suggestions to the firm. Szmigin and Reppel (2001) stated that rewarding fans frequently over social media can enhance the degree of customer engagement which can enhance the brand image of the firm.

2.5 Factors affecting the social media effectiveness in the context of brand building exercise in UK automobile sector:

Social media always cannot create positivity among the users. It has been found that a negative perception posted in social media channels can suddenly reduce the brand value of the firm. UK automobile sector is increasing rapidly and the competitions among the rivals are getting increased. As stated by Steenkamp and Geyskens (2006), negative brand image could lead to the switching to another brand by the consumers. Hence, the firm needs to be very specific while communicating via social media.

Security issue also may arise while purchasing via online media. Automobile sector holds larger price value of the products as compared to the retail sector. Most of the organisations post the link of purchase and other details in Facebook or in Twitter. Any monetary transaction failure can create a negative impact over the consumer mind.

Hence, the firm needs to be aware about the factors before communicating via social media to the customers. However, the information published from a firm through social media channel stands more credible than the messages controlled by the company (Szmigin and Reppel, 2001).

Most of the UK population goes through the comments made by the customers before purchasing a product and communicates via social media to the company directly. Hence, social media communication can directly impact on maintaining the brand image of the automobile sector. Huge monetary involvement is found while purchasing the product in automobile industry. A positive word of mouth about a specific brand can easily create millions of likings over social media which could be beneficial for the firm in building the brand image of the UK automobile industry.

 

2.6 Relationship between the brand and credibility:

A two way relationship is being observed between the brand and credibility. Corporate credibility fundamentally results from the reputation of the company. On the other hand, message credibility influences positively the attitude towards the brand of the organisation. As opined by Turkle (2006), brand value of a firm increases if consumers get more actively involved with it and the same is being characterised by the density of the psychological bonding of the customers with the brand and it finally enforces the brand equity.

Considering the fact, Steenkamp and Geyskens (2006) stated that managing a brand has become an important factor for retaining a loyal customer base in long run. Social media not only displays the original message written by the author, but also allows the comments from various visitors. Social media and its impact can manage a brand by focusing on innovating new things according to the requirement and demands of consumer received from the social networking sites (Srinivasan et al. 2005).The same could promote in attracting new customer base by creating new business segments by including both maintenance of the brand and securing the future brand also.

2.7 Impact of social media on maintaining the brand value of an organisation:

Mostly all business ventures are expecting a big return on investment by adopting new business strategy focusing on the social media. Organisations are adopting social media as advertising strategy by considering that new customers can come into the droves resulting in huge revenue generation. Considering the fact, Steenkamp and Geyskens (2006) proposed that the same fact could not be fruitful in all cases, as it takes a time to build the momentum with the media and the economic benefit depends on the likings of the viewers. Contrary to this, Srinivasan et al. (2005) argued that although social media works in a slow way in building the brand value of an organisation, it can effectively build and maintain the brand value of organisations. The impact of social media in maintaining brand value of organisation is given below:

Enhancing brand recognition:

Social media acts as one of the most powerful tool in brand building. By the help of social media, organisation can decide how to position the organisations to the customers and what the organisation wants people to know about the organisations and the new launches of the product (Srinivasan et al. 2005). By giving consistent effort, organisations can build a reputation along with increased company value, benefits and advantages.

Enhancing brand image by creating community:

Maintaining brand image and brand reputation is dependent on cultivating a community. In this context, Steenkamp and Geyskens (2006) stated that there exists no comparison of social media with other advertising strategy for building a positive community. When the followers become a part of the community, instant access is being gained at that time. Social media can find out the challenges faced by the followers and the likings and disliking of the offerings of the specified brand (Srinivasan et al. 2005).

If the followers are satisfied with the brand, the brand image of the firm increases by the networking and a million of customers can be touched within few minutes. Contrary to this, the negative impact of social media comes to this point as it can hamper the brand value of the organisation within little time by allowing the followers to comment on the negativity of the brand.

Building competitive advantage:

Some big organisations are also not aware about the impact of social media in increasing the brand value of the firm. Considering the fact, Keller (2008) stated that most of the competitors may not like to do good job with social media and that could create a chance of standing out. At this scenario, any small medium enterprise can gain a brand value within the marketplace.

Creating authority at the marketplace:

Social media can act as a powerful tool for establishing the authority within the marketplace. A group of satisfied consumers can refer to others and this approach can build a number of followers within a shorter time span by building its brand image effectively (Ko et al. 2005).By using social media, the organisation can help the target customers in every aspect which could make a loyal customer base resulting in increased brand loyalty and brand reputation among the consumers within the global industry.

2.8 Impact of social media on maintaining the performance of an organisation:

Social media can benefit the performance of any organisation by means of increased employee attachment, learning and development program, product development or innovation and other factors.

Improved performance by innovating new things:

Organisations performance can be improved by employing a number of workers into survey process so as to realise the need of doing something new for getting a loyal customer base (Mangold and Faulds, 2009). Social media allows collaboration on a wider range. It can be stated that social media allows the occurrence of crowd sourcing through which different group of people may be external or internal can understand the problem and possible solutions can be provided by the members (www.academia.edu, 2014). Furthermore, Okazaki (2009) stated that brainstorming can be done by using social media which is one of the key parameter in enhancing the innovativeness and creating better buying decision of the customers. In this context, Muniz and O’Guinn (2001) stated that social media allows the organisation to conduct brainstorming on continuous basis instead of allowing for a planned session. Hence, by creating the innovativeness organisation can improve its performance by providing new features and technologies to the customer in the marketplace.

Increased authenticity:

Social media allows the criticism about the product or services offered by an organisation compared to other firm. As stated by Reid et al. (2005), the integrated composition also can be criticised by anyone and that could create a negative impact on the reputation of an organisation. To avoid the same, organisations are becoming aware about the features and the composition of a product and thereby the authenticity is getting increased.

Increased employee attachment and productivity:

Social media has made the revolution of communicating with each other in a cost effective way within a shorter span of time. According to the statement of Riegner (2007) social media allows the employees to communicate with each other by making the process of communication more attractive and customised. Internal social network stimulates the conversation by engaging the conversation from executive board level to the front line employees. Considering the fact, Zeng et al. (2005) opined that continuous attachment among the top management and the workers could create a sense of attachment that may enhance the productivity of individual thereby enhancing the productivity of the firm as a whole.

However, social media platform could create transparent leadership by allowing the regular session of quality analysis by online means or it can allow the leaders to comment on the different statuses of the employees (Mangold and Faulds, 2009).

Learning and development:

According to the opinion of author, social media can contribute to the effectiveness of employee learning and development. Delivering and sharing some training material through social channels such as videos and blogs could efficiently enhance the learning conversion ratio within an organisation (Okazaki, 2009). With the help of increased learning the performance of individual enhances and it act as a catalyst of enhancing the overall performance of the organisation.

Improving performance by giving rewards and recognition:

It has been proved that enhanced motivation level of the workers can effectively enhance the commitment towards the organisation that could result in increased individual performance as well as the organisational performance. Motivation among the employees can be created by giving proper rewards and recognition (Mangold and Faulds, 2009). In this context, Riegner (2007) stated that rewards and recognition can be given to the employee internally within the organisation, but giving rewards and recognition through social media acts as a booster of motivating the staff.  Uploading the information about the nomination and the selection for the reward ceremony makes the employees feel valued and it acts as the reason of enhancing employee commitment toward the organisation that could result in improved organisational performance.

2.9 Advantages and disadvantages of social media:

Advantages of social media in maintaining brand loyalty:

Social media acts as a catalyst for managing the brand loyalty effectively by means of:

Managing the reputation of the firm:

The reputation of a firm can be made or diminished by using social media. It is important for an organisation to observe strictly the criticism shown by the customers. Considering the fact, Okazaki (2009) stated that organisation can take fast actions on the negative feedback given by the people. So, social media can make an organisation ready to manage the reputation in a broader way. Once the reputation becomes good, the company can become able to get a wider base of loyal customers.

Analysing the nature of competitors:

For achieving sustainable competitive advantage, organisations need to understand the advertising strategy of other firm within the same industry. According to the Riegner (2007), analysing the nature and the technical features of the competitor helps in identifying the advantageous and disadvantageous strategy adopted by organisation that could prevent the firm from doing similar mistakes and that can be done by adopting social media.

Increased exposure and experiencing better customer relationship:

Social media acts as a search engine for accessing maximum possible consumers in a short time span (Mangold and Faulds, 2009). By using face book, twitter and other applications, an organisation can get a million of target customers within a little time span. Okazaki (2009) proposed that increased exposure experiences a better customer relationship by engaging the customers in query process where the consumer can ask about anything related to the benefits of the products and services of a new arrival by the firm. The employees of the organisation or the management can directly touch the customers and a perfect communication can be established between the organisation and the global mass.

Disadvantages of social media in maintaining brand loyalty:

Creating negative perception among the users:

User may perceive a negative feeling about the product of the company if any remarkable criticism is being observed in the social networking sites. As stated by Riegner (2007), a psychological factor stands at an important point of controlling the buying behaviour of consumer and getting a base of loyal consumer. If, due to any reason a positive perception among the consumer breaks about an organisation it becomes very difficult to create it again in the same ratio (Mangold and Faulds, 2009).

Losing confidentiality:

Any confidential information of the firm may be leaked due to transferring information about the product or services or any events organised by the firm (Okazaki, 2009). Social networking allows all the competitors to go through the recent strategies and policies adopted by the firm and break the confidentiality. Sometimes, the employees and the managers of the firm may share some events with the friends through which any competitor may come to know about the secrets of the firm. The secret fundamentals can be implanted by other organisation thereby losing importance in the market share.

2.10 Present branding strategies followed at BMW:

BMW is one of the most popular automobile companies on UK. BMW is following a number of strategies as the branding strategy:

BMW website:

The website of BMW provides the information regarding the products and services offered by the firm. As stated by Berthon et al. (2008), website is such a thing which can attract and retain a large group of customer in building brand loyalty of a firm. On the contrary, Riegner (2007) argued that website needs to be made in such a way that the consumers can get newsletters, brochures or online magazine to get the updated news about the products or services. Considering the fact, BMW has created a sound website through which the consumers can become able to get all the information about the firm. Statistical data showed that BMW international website is worth about dollar 167755 with page views 76811 daily and it has daily ad revenue of about dollar 230.

Online Television:

BMW has adopted online television as to promote its brand values and invested a large amount on it. As proposed by Berthon et al. (2008), online television channel can promote the core brand value of an organisation by doing coverage of rich information. The same fact has been covered by BMW where all official advertisements, launching programs and the videos are being updated that has made the BMW to create the awareness among the users about the product and services offered by the firm (www.bmw.tv, 2014). However, BMW also broadcast its product videos to online TV parties such as Bravo, NBC and MSNBC. According to the data, these viewers constitutes almost 20.50% of the income bracket target of BMW

Online advertisements and online public relation:

Online public relation activity could become a significant factor in creating and enhancing the brand awareness of an organisation (Clemons and Spitler, 2006). Same fact has been adopted by BMW, which creates the awareness within the public by its online global PressClub portal which can webcast its brand value to many people in two ways either live or by demand from the user end. On the other hand, Berthon et al. (2008) argued that online advertisement can encourage displaying interactive advertisements in many ways. Considering the fact, BMW has engaged with the online partner such as WCRS for encouraging the recall, purchase intent and creating brand awareness among the users. Online advertisements such as banners, skyscrapers, pop ups etc can deliver the ads to the relevant customers. Online advertisement is a flexible way to reach its target audience within a very shorter time period (Berthon et al. 2008).

Social networks:

BMW has incorporated face book, twitter, you tube as a potential means of creating the brand value of the organisation. It had helped it in reaching a wider base of loyal customers in today’s market place.

Radio:

BMW has adopted radio as the branding media. In this context, Gangadharbatla (2008) proposed that radio has become an important medium of advertising of new arrivals of the firm and maintaining brand value especially in the market segment of UK. Considering the fact, the management of BMW has adopted radio as a media of advertisement in the year 2002 and it has been used for national advertising. Contrary to this, Berthon et al. (2008) stated that it could be used regionally and it does not tend to be used at a national level.

Print:

According to the statement of Fisher (2009), printing media can be an effective means of branding and promotional strategy. It has been observed that time magazine ranges from dollar 250000 for a full page black and white to dollar 360000 for a full page colour advertisement. BMW has adopted a strong printing strategy which describes that the audience belong to this group is twice of the age of BMW and half the incomes of the target market of BMW. At this market scenario, time magazines can be defined as one of the premier periodicals on the market segment.

2.11 Impact of advertising through social media on the business of BMW:

Usage of social media can allow the customers to get the benefit of different substitute arrivals (Fisher, 2009). BMW provides the usage of You Tube that allows the interaction among the users and the user can ask questions and discuss about the videos posted by the firm. As stated by Berthon et al. (2008), social media sites can create the awareness among users about the new arrival of the products and can clear all the doubts generated in consumer mind within a very shorter time period. As per the statistical data, BMW is being treated as the most successful marketer in the previous year as compared to its competitors (www.bmw.com, 2014). Hence, having a greater number of viewers shows that the branding strategy of BMW is far better than its competitor Audi, Ford and Toyota which can improve the sales of the firm in its operational platform.

However, Face book and Twitter are also being used as a brand creating tool by BMW. Social media allows communicating with the consumers at relatively low cost (Calder et al. 2009). BMW uses the social media platform form the customers for recommending the products to other people and also as a way for conducting the conversation and brand blogging. Brand building can be done by using blogging feature (Berthon et al. 2008). On the contrary, Riegner (2007) argued that online voting can also become a part of brand building exercise in UK automobile industry. According to the official sites of face book, 13,396,064 likes are being observed and almost more than 100 thousand followers can be observed on twitter.

According to the data, BMW has increased its sales for 11.5% in June, 2014 at USA (www.bmw.com, 2014). As per the report gained on Tuesday, the sale of luxury car brand BMW has increased 7.3% in June to 164,214 autos that is powered by the demand raised in China and United States (www.bmwblog.com, 2014). Using social networking site has made BMW to increase its reputation due to which it has delivered 886,347 cars in last six months and it was about almost 10.2% which stands higher as compared to its competitor Audi and Mercedes-Benz (www.reuters.com, 2014).

Table 1: BMW sales for year 2013-2014.

  June 2014 June 2013
BMW Brand 30,201 27,074
BMW Passenger Cars 23,557 20,396
BMW Light Tricks 6,644 6,678
Mini Brand 5,376 6,571
Total Group 35,577 33,645

 

2.12 Conclusion:

The success behind BMW is due to its online and offline marketing communication strategies which has helped to assist in identifying, acquiring and satisfying its customer base that has retained a wider base of loyal customers. Usage of social media can act as an important parameter in brand building of an organisation as it has been observed in the case of BMW. However, in today’s globalised business important it is very important to run as per the technology and adopting technological changes can become an important part of doing a profitable and satisfactory business. Hence, incorporating social networking sites as an effective media can prove to be a greater part of marketing strategy in upcoming business unit worldwide.

2.13 Conceptual framework:

conceptual_framework

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2: Conceptual Framework

(Source: created by author)

 

 

Chapter 3

Research Methodology

3.0 Introduction:

This chapter mainly focused on the paradigm that needs to be employed for conducting the present study. The paradigms are being selected for identifying the effectiveness of social media as brand enhancement tool in UK automobile industry. However, a proper justification about the choice of paradigms can increase the chance of getting assurance about how much the same can meet and fulfil the research objectives.

3.1 Method outline:

The researchers have chosen positivism philosophy, deductive research approach and descriptive research design to justify the effectiveness of social media as brand enhancement tool. Simple random probability sampling has been used to collect primary data of the research. Secondary data has been gathered from the help of various books, journals and websites made by BMW. Quantitative survey questionnaires have been given to 55 consumers of BMW and 5 HR managers have been taken for conducting qualitative survey. Convenient sampling method is also been used by the researcher for conducting the qualitative measure. However, ethical considerations are been maintained in the research to conduct the study in a fair manner.

3.2 Research philosophy: Positivism

Research philosophy is used to develop the knowledge and the nature of the enhanced knowledge (VanderStoep and Johnson, 2009). As stated by Morgan (2007), three common forms of research philosophies are used named as positivism, realism and interpretivism. Among three research philosophies, the researcher has opted for positivism research philosophy. According to the opinion of Morse (2007), positivism philosophy is scientific in nature and it is associated with objectivism. The conclusion drawn from the interpretation might not be effective for the study, whereas positivism philosophy could assist in collection of secondary data on the impact of using social media in enhancing the brand image of the organisation (Hair and Money, 2011). Apart from this, primary data is being gathered from the chosen sample and the data gathering is done on the basis of the reply of the respondents. However, choosing positivism philosophy could help in relating primary and secondary data for arriving at a strong and authentic inference about the whole study (Saunders et al. 2009).

3.3 Research approach:

Two types of research approaches are being conducted generally that are deductive and inductive (Saunders et al. 2009). Among these two research approach, the researcher has chosen deductive research approach for conducting the study suitably. As mentioned by Brannen (2009), deductive research approach starts with mentioning theories followed by narrowing down to the hypothesis and final testing of the hypothesis. On the contrary, Cameron (2009) argued that inductive approach is totally concerned with the development of theory whereas, deductive approach justifies the extent with which the current theory is satisfied.

Many researches has been conducted in past on the impact and significance of social media on enhancing the brand image of organisation. The current measure of the significance of social in brand image enhancement at BMW has been gathered through the primary data. However, Corner (2002) opined that deductive approach basically establishes the firmness of utilising the present theory with regard to its transparency. Hence, the application of deductive research approach could help the researcher in accumulating and analysing critically all the facts for inferring on the effect and the need of advertising through social media in enhancing and maintaining brand value at BMW (Brannen, 2009).

3.4 Research Design: descriptive

In this present study, descriptive research design has been chosen among various types of research approach. Descriptive research design helps to reach the suitability point of the study (Freshwater, 2007).Considering the fact, Johnson (2007) stated that descriptive research design can interpret and describe some particular conditions of the present circumstances. It has been observed that descriptive research design is concerned with some real factors and its differences that are going on originally (Cameron, 2009). According to Miles and Huberman (2006), the structure, relationship and practices associated with the factors can be understood by understanding the nature of descriptive research design. Getting necessary design could become tough without following descriptive research approach and the study could face huge trouble. As stated by Brannen (2009), although many research have been conducted in past, still the need of doing further research on the evaluation of the need of incorporating social media as advertising tool in UK automobile industry has become necessary. Hence, by applying descriptive research approach, the researcher can become able to gather all the facts about the significance of social media for enhancing the brand image of BMW with respect to the feedback gained from the existing customers and managers of BMW.

3.5 Data type:

Among different types of data, a specific data type is required for conducting the study and the selection depends on the objective and the nature of the research to be fulfilled (Morse, 2007). In general, data can be divided into two segments one is primary and another is secondary. In the present research, the researcher has chosen both types of data for conducting the study at BMW UK regarding the impact of social media on enhancing the brand image of the same. According to the opinion of Morse (2007), primary data are original in nature and these are collected by the response gained by the existing customers of the firm for identifying the actual responses of the customers. Apart from this, Brannen (2009) stated that secondary data has been collected from various books, journals and company reports, magazines published by firm.

3.6 Data collection process:

Data collection process needs to be chosen according to the objectives to be achieved by deriving particular outcomes gained from analysing data Miles and Huberman (2006). The researcher has undergone quantitative, qualitative type of data collection for gathering primary data. Furthermore, existing branding strategy and the current situation of the organisation has been collected from secondary resources. In this study, the researcher has gathered primary data by selecting 55 respondents for identifying the need of the customers and the opinion about the branding strategy followed at BMW, UK. However, the researcher has conducted face to face interview of the managers for acquiring the qualitative responses from the managers’ end.

Questionnaire Method:

In the present research, survey questionnaires have been distributed among the respondents for gathering the opinion about the present scenario. As opined by Brannen (2009), survey questionnaires are given to the customers to go through the questions and respond accordingly. The set of questions are made focusing on the unbiasness and faster data collection process. In this survey process, there may be a chance of getting some unanswered questions, but the researcher can gain a number of considerable data regarding the impact and the need of social media in enhancing the brand value of UK automobile industry.

Face-to-face interview:

Face-to-face interview is being done for gathering the qualitative data from the managers of then firm. In this phase, middle line managers are normally considered as the respondents for collecting the qualitative data.

3.7 Data Analysis method:

Data analysis is done within the stipulated time frame and the analysis allows accumulating accurate details about the need of the research study Miles and Huberman (2006). Quantitative data analysis can be called as structured data collection instrument through which a diversified opinion can be categorised into a specific domain of response (Cameron, 2009). The quantitative data analysis at BMW is done by giving the questionnaires to the customers of BMW and the data analysis is done via Microsoft Excel. The presentation of the responses could be done by employing the percentage and the graphs along with the tables are being analysed on the basis of the given percentage. The same fact could draw an inference about the topic on an easy manner.

However, qualitative data analysis is conducted by the given responses of the HR manager of the firm. All managers are requested to response in the interview session. The answers gathered from the HR managers are normally descriptive in nature. The descriptive answers are being narrated by the researcher in a descriptive way to get the detailed analysis about the existing scenario of social media application in BMW and its impact on maintaining the brand value and image of the firm.

3.8 Sampling method:

As stated by Miles and Huberman (2006), incorporating a suitable sampling process becomes very urgent as it chooses a homogeneous group from a wider population of heterogeneous groups. A suitable sampling method needs to be employed for dictating the success or the failure of the study by influencing the data analysis process. In this study, the researcher has chosen simple random sampling for acquiring the response of each respondent in an equal and well distributed manner. Non probability sampling method can also collect the qualitative data from the managers, but probability sampling has been chosen for giving equal opportunities to the managers.

Sample size:

As per the opinion of Cameron (2009), proper sampling size could help a firm in getting the appropriate data for conducting the whole research. Sample size below 35 could raise ethical issue with data collection from the respondents. Hence, for avoiding inappropriate data collection, the researcher has attempted to collect responses from 55 existing customers of BMW. A face-to-face interview has been conducted to 6 middle line managers to get the qualitative response according to the perception of the middle line managers.

3.9 Ethical Consideration:

As stated by Miles and Huberman (2006), ethical considerations are very essential for ensuring the conduction of a transparent and free activity during the research process. In the present research, data privacy, integrity and honesty has been maintained by the researcher at the time of conducting the survey. No respondents were being pressurised from the end of the researcher. Validity of the collected data has been done by the researcher and no data alteration has been made. As per the ethical consideration, no primary data has been made public and the collection of secondary data has also been conducted from a reliable source for avoiding any duplicity.

3.10 Limitations:

Number of respondents chosen was 55. Time frame was fixed and the number of respondents chosen was higher. If number of respondents were chosen 50 it could have given more appropriate result in this research. Furthermore, due to time constrains only 5 middle line managers were considered for the qualitative response which have impacted slightly in obtaining accurate information from the managers.

3.11 Time Horizon:

Main activities 1st week 2nd week 3rd week 4th+5th week 6th week 7th week
Selection of the topic            
Literature Review            
Methodology Chapter            
Collecting primary and secondary data            
Analysing and interpreting the data            
Findings            
Conclusion and Recommendation            
Final submission of the study            

 

 

 

Chapter 4

Findings and analysis

4.0 Introduction:

Present chapter has described primary data collected from the existing customers for arriving the final inference on the topic. Quantitative responses have been explained in the form of graphs and charts, whereas qualitative responses have been depicted in descriptive manner. This chapter is mainly focused on deriving the final conclusion about the impact of social media in maintaining and building brand of BMW, UK. For justifying the authenticity, each question is being linked to the theories that are analysed in Chapter 2.

4.1 Quantitative questions:

Q1 Would you agree that effective brand can make you becoming loyal to the brand?

Table 2: Importance of effective brand in building brand loyalty

 

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 26 55 47
Agree 16 55 29
Neutral 3 55 5
Disagree 6 55 11
Strongly disagree 4 55 8

 

Figure 3: Importance of effective brand in building brand loyalty

Findings and analysis:

The above finding shows that almost 76% of the total respondents think that an effective brand can build the brand loyalty. Only 19% customers disagree with the fact and rest 5% are neutral on this matter.

As per the findings above it is clear that effective brand can build a strong brand loyalty among the customers in automobile sector UK. As stated by Ko et al. (2005), a group of satisfied customers can become the loyal customer if any organisation can make its brand by using social media (refer to section 2.4, Chapter 2).  Furthermore, few groups of customers are opining that effective brand cannot build brand loyalty always.  However, from the above analysis, it can be inferred that effective brand can impact positively on the brand loyalty as a reputed brand can build competitive advantage at the marketplace.

Q2 Do you think social media can create awareness about the new arrivals among customers ?

Table 3: Creating awareness through social media about new arrivals

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 23 55 42
Agree 19 55 35
Neutral 3 55 5
Disagree 5 55 9
Strongly disagree 5 55 9

 

Figure 4: Creating awareness through social media about new arrivals

Findings and analysis:

As per the findings above, 42% of the total respondents strongly believed that social media can create awareness about the arrival of newly made product at the market place.

In the context of above findings, it can be analysed that maximum customers of BMW gets the information about the product of BMW through social media and the customers are satisfied with that. Similar proposition has been mentioned by Berthon et al. (2008) that social media sites can create the awareness among the users about new arrivals of the product and can clear all the doubts generated in consumer mind (refer to section 2.8, Chapter 2). Furthermore, Calder et al. (2009) stated that social media can communicate and reach a wider customer base within a very shorter time period at relatively low cost (as stated in section 2.8, Chapter 2). However, it can be stated that product awareness can be created among the users by using social media broadly and the same is true for BMW.

Q3 Do you agree that social media help you in evaluating the benefits and features of different substitute arrival ?

Table 4: Evaluating the benefits of different substitute arrival by using social media

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 23 55 42
Agree 20 55 36
Neutral 7 55 13
Disagree 3 55 5
Strongly disagree 2 55 4

 

Figure 5: Evaluating the benefits of different substitute arrival by using social media

Findings and analysis:

According to the above graph, 78% of the total customer of BMW believes that benefits and attributes of different substitute can be evaluated by using social media.

Above findings showed that social media can give organisation the accessibility of sharing the benefit and attributes of substitute arrival with existing consumers as well as newly attracted consumers. In this context, Fisher (2009) proposed that social media can benefit the consumers by providing necessary information about different substitute arrival (refer to section 2.8, Chapter 2). Similarly, Okazaki (2009) stated that increased exposure can be achieved by using social media where the customers can get the clear picture about the different substitute products ( as mentioned in section 2.6, Chapter 2).So, from the analysis it can be concluded that BMW is successful in transferring the benefits of different substitute arrivals by utilising social media.

Q4 Do you think social media is important for perceiving better buying decisions?

Table 5: Impact of social media for perceiving better buying decisions

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 19 55 35
Agree 24 55 44
Neutral 5 55 9
Disagree 5 55 9
Strongly disagree 2 55 3

 

Figure 6: Impact of social media for perceiving better buying decisions

Findings and Analysis:

Above result shows that majority of the respondents think that social media can impact on buying decisions of the customers, whereas only 12% of the total respondents disagree with the same.

According to above findings, it can be said that most of the customers of BMW is being influenced by the application of social media in the context of buying behaviour. As proposed by Okazaki (2009), social media is the road map for innovating new things as per the demand of the consumers and can effectively impact on consumer buying behaviour (refer to section 2.5, Chapter 2). Hence, the discussion about BMW proposes that social media can influence consumer better buying behaviour at the marketplace.

Q5 Are you agree with the fact that social media is a strong tool for brand building at BMW?

Table 6: Social media as a tool for brand building at BMW

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 19 55 35
Agree 23 55 42
Neutral 5 55 9
Disagree 3 55 5
Strongly disagree 5 55 9

 

Figure 7: Social media as a tool for brand building at BMW

Findings and Analysis:

The result above implies that maximum respondents think that BMW has incorporated social media as a brand building exercise in its organisational structure. Only 14% of the respondents disagree with the fact.

Above findings suggests that in UK automobile industry social media can act as a tool for brand building as it is observed in the case of BMW. Similar fact has been stated by Calder et al. (2009) that social media allows communicating with the consumers at very low cost and it can build a strong brand value among the consumers (refer to section 2.8, Chapter 2). Furthermore, it has been observed in section 2.8, Chapter 2 that BMW has increased its sales 11.5% in June 2014 at USA by utilising social networking sites such as You Tube, Facebook etc (www.bmw.com, 2014). However, it can be conclude that social media can be used as a brand building tool in UK automobile industry as observed in the case of BMW.

Q6 Do you agree that social media stands informative considering the case of BMW?

Table 7: Analysing social media as informative considering the case of BMW

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 17 55 31
Agree 21 55 38
Neutral 7 55 13
Disagree 5 55 9
Strongly disagree 5 55 9

 

Figure 8: Analysing social media as informative considering the case of BMW

Findings and Analysis:

Above finding shows that 69% of the total respondents are getting information about the features of BMW through social media and only 13% customers are neutral in this scenario.

From the findings above, it is clear that social media can provide true pictures about the services or products offered by the organisation. As mentioned by Berthon et al. (2008), social media can provide all necessary information regarding the price, features and all other information (refer to section 2.8, Chapter 2). However, BMW is very informative than its competition such as Toyota, Audi and Ford where it uses You Tube, blogging and video sharing, it provides all information to the consumers and the same could be found in section 2.8, Chapter 2 (www.bmwblog.com, 2014). So, it can be concluded that social media can act as informative tool to the consumers in UK automobile industry.

Q7 Which tool is scoring the highest priority as a promotional tool at BMW?

Table 8: Evaluating the highest priority promotional tool used at BMW

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Radio 19 55 35
Social Media 25 55 45
TV 6 55 11
Online advertisements and PR 5 55 9

 

      Figure 9: Evaluating the highest priority promotional tool used at BMW

Findings and Analysis:

According to the maximum number of respondents, social media gets the highest priority promotional tool used by BMW followed by radio, TV and online advertisements along with PR.

The findings above describe that social media stands at highest priority promotional tool used by BMW. As stated in section 2.8, Chapter 2, You Tube has been used exclusively by BMW and it has been observed that BMW gets the highest number of You Tube viewers among the competitors (www.bmw.com, 2014). Apart from this, it has adopted radio as a promotional tool in the market segment of UK. Contrary to this, Berthon et al. (2008) argued that radio can be locally used for promotion not for national or international level (refer to section 2.7, Chapter 2). However, it can be inferred that social media acts as the most effective promotional tool for BMW and the same could be true for other automobile industry at UK.

Q8 Which social media is used most significantly by BMW  ?

Table 9: Evaluating the mostly used social media at BMW in brand building exercise

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Facebook 20 55 36
You tube 22 55 40
Twitter 8 55 15
Blogg 5 55 9

 

Figure 10: Evaluating the mostly used social media at BMW in brand building exercise

Findings and Analysis:

As per the graph above, it is clear that most of the customers (40%) believe BMW uses mostly You Tube as brand building tool. Furthermore, only 36% customers think that it uses Face book as brand building tool followed by Twitter and Blogs.

From the above finding, it can be stated that You Tube stands most effectively used social media by BMW. As stated in section 2.8 Chapter 2, BMW provides the usage of You Tube for discussing thoroughly about the videos posted by the firm due to which it has been treated as the most successful marketer in previous year among the competitors (www.bmw.com, 2014). Apart from this, 13,396,064 likes are being observed in Face book of BMW which describes that face book is also extensively used by BMW as a brand building tool (refer to section 2.8, Chapter 2). Hence, it can be concluded that You tube is being used by BMW most extensively as a brand building exercise and it could be good exercise for UK automobile industry.

Q9 Would you think social media can enable customers to compare and contrast similar products in automobile industry?

Table 10: Impact of social media in enabling the consumers to reach a comparative study in automobile industry

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 16 55 29
Agree 22 55 40
Neutral 7 55 13
Disagree 5 55 9
Strongly disagree 5 55 9

 

Figure 11: Impact of social media in enabling the consumers to reach a comparative study in automobile industry

Findings and Analysis:

It can be observed that majority of the customers of BMW believe that social media can enable its customers in reaching a comparative study in automobile industry. The disagreeability among the customers is very less in this matter.

The above findings suggest that social media can draw a true comparative picture in automobile industry UK for BMW. In this context, Riegner (2007) proposed that analysing a comparative study could make a firm better analyst in gaining competitive advantage and that can be gained by using social media(refer to section 2.6, Chapter 2). Finally, it can be stated that social media can stand effective in getting the competitive analysis of the competitor in UK automobile industry.

Q10 Would you agree that online blogging can be treated as brand building exercise for organisation?

Table 11: Evaluating blogging as a brand building exercise

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 13 55 24
Agree 17 55 31
Neutral 10 55 17
Disagree 8 55 15
Strongly disagree 7 55 13

 

Figure 12: Evaluating blogging as a brand building exercise

Findings and Analysis:

Most of the respondents believe that blogging can be treated as a brand building exercise in UK automobile industry. A significant number of respondents oppose the same.

The above findings indicate that Blogging can be considered as brand building exercise for BMW. As opined by William and Williams (2008), social media can be utilised as brand enhancement factor by the implication of word of mouth factor and blogging can be one of them (refer to section 2.3, Chapter 2). Blogging provides the user freedom of giving opinion about an organisation and its products along with the features. As opined by Srinivasan et al. (2005) a positive word of mouth can enhance the brand value whereas negative word of mouth can create negative brand value and it can be done by using blogging (refer to section 2.3, Chapter 2). Hence, it can be concluded that blogging can be used as a tool of improving brand building exercise and the same is true for BMW.

Q11 Would you think that online voting can be treated as the brand building exercise?

Table 12: Using online voting as brand building exercise

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Yes 38 55 69
No 10 55 18
Not Sure 7 55 13

 

Figure 13: Using online voting as brand building exercise

Findings and Analysis:

Above graph shows, majority of the respondents think that online voting can be useful in brand building exercise. Only 18% of the respondents disagree with the fact and 13% customers are not sure about the same.

The findings above states that online voting could become effective in conducting brand building exercise. The same fact has been stated by Riegner (2007) that online voting can become a part of brand building exercise since it gives the comparative study between different firms exists within the same industry (refer to section 2.8, Chapter 2). Contrary to this, Calder et al. (2009) argued that social media can be an effective tool for building brand exercise and the same could be the reason of not supporting the same fact of few of the respondents of BMW. However, it can be concluded that incorporating online voting system could act as an effective tool for conducting brand building exercise.

Q12 Do you think that feedback evaluation stands effective as brand building exercise?

Table 13: Analysing the effectiveness of feedback evaluation as brand building exercise

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 11 55 20
Agree 19 55 35
Neutral 7 55 12
Disagree 10 55 18
Strongly disagree 8 55 15

 

Figure 14: Analysing the effectiveness of feedback evaluation as brand building exercise

Findings and Analysis:

The findings above indicates that majority of the customers (55%) believe that feedback evaluation could be treated as an effective tool for brand building exercise.

According to the findings above, feedback evaluation can be used as brand building tool for BMW. As mentioned by Okazaki (2009), organisations can take fast initiatives according to the negative feedback given by the customers as well as can repeat the same in future after getting positive feedback about the same (refer to section 2.6, Chapter 2). Although a certain percentage of people does not agree with the fact, still it can be concluded that feedback evaluation can be treated as brand building exercise in UK automobile industry.

4.2 Qualitative questions

Q1. What are the present branding strategies followed by BMW?

Among six managers, three are opining that You Tube and other social media is used at BMW as major branding strategy. As stated by Berthon et al. (2008) in Chapter 2, social media could create strong awareness among the customers about the upcoming arrivals of the products (as stated in section 2.8). On the other hand, one manager said that BMW website is also used to attract and retain wider customer base by building strong brand image of the firm. The same fact has been stated by Reigner (2007) that websites needs to be made in a right way to get the updates about the updated news of the products or services offered by the firm (refer to section 2.7, Chapter 2). Furthermore, another manager stated that online advertisements, online PR is being extensively used by BMW for enhancing its brand image. Fulfilling the demand of the consumers and making customers known about the product is being done by online PR and advertisements by collaboration with online partner such as WCRS. The same fact has been opined by Clemons and Spitler (2006) in section 2.7 that online PR activity can be a factor for enhancing the brand awareness among the consumers. The last manager said that radio and print media is being extensively used by BMW as the branding strategy. However, majority of the managers opining that mostly social media is used by BMW as the branding strategy and has an impact on maintaining its brand image.

 

Q2. Do you think these branding strategies are effective enough in building a good brand image for the organisation?

Two managers among six opined that the reputation of BMW is being maintained by following branding strategies by means of positive word of mouth of the people. Considering the fact, Okazaki (2009) stated that organisation can reach the disliking of the people and rectify it easily very soon and can positively manage the reputation of the firm (refer to section 2.6, Chapter 2). Once the reputation becomes good, the image of the organisations becomes sound to the consumers. On the other hand, two managers said that online branding strategies and social media is helping BMW is experiencing better customer relationship thereby enhancing the brand image of the organisation. As stated by Mangold and Faulds (2009), social media acts like a search engine for accessing and creating good relationship with the customers within a shorter time span (refer to section 2.6, Chapter 2). However, Reid et al. (2005) opined that integrated media can allow the criticism which could make the firm in taking positive steps to rectify the same by making it public by the usage of social media (refer to section 2.5, Chapter 2). This positive nature can create positive brand image of the firm. Similar fact has been stated by rest of the managers that branding through social media can increase the authenticity of the organisation thereby enhancing the brand image and brand loyalty of the firm in long run.

Q3. How do you think social media impacts on the organisational brand image?

According to the opinion of one manager, brand can be considered as an asset of a firm. Social media can impact on increasing the brand image as well as decreasing the brand image of the firm by the implication of the positive and negative word of mouth. As opined by Sherry (2003) word of mouth can be treated as the informal way of giving advice to the customers about the services and products offered by the firm (refer to section 2.3, Chapter 2). On the other hand, two managers opined that social media can create positive word of mouth that   can create more loyal customer base that could be the reason of meeting organisational objectives. The same fact has been stated by Steenkamp and Geyskens (2006) that retaining loyal customer base has become an important factor i building a good brand image of the firm (refer to section 2.3, Chapter 2). Furthermore, another manager said that social media could create the authority at the marketplace which can create a loyal customer base that could enhance the brand reputation and brand loyalty of the firm. However, rest of the managers opined that social media helps an organisation to innovate new things as per the demand of the customer and this could be one of the important reasons of building strong brand image in the long run. Hence, it can be stated that social media has a significant impact on the organisational brand image.

 

Q4. Are the common social media channels likely to contribute positively on BMW’s brand image in future?

All the six managers think that social media channels could positively impact on the brand image of BMW in future. According to the managers, BMW has reached at the top most position among its competitors in the marketplace due to the usage of social media. One manager said that BMW provides usage of You Tube which allows the interaction within the users and the user can ask and discuss about the posted video of the firm. In this context, Calder et al. (2009) opined that social media allows communicating with its customers at very low cost (refer to section 2.8, Chapter 2). However, other three managers opined that usage of Face book and Twitter has made the BMW to gain the highest number of viewers rather than its competitors and the amount of You Tube viewer is 4,666,413 (as mentioned in section 2.8, Chapter 2. Lastly, the rest of the managers said that BMW has achieved the increased sales volume as compared to its previous year record due to the implementation of social media in advertising and branding strategy (as mentioned in section 2.8, Chapter 2). From the above discussion, it can be concluded that in today’s business scenario and considering the time factor, Face book, Twitter and You Tube can contribute positively on maintaining the brand image of BMW in future and that could be more than now what it is contributing today.

Q5. Are the existing social media branding strategies need alterations? If so why

Considering the above question, majority of the managers opined that no alteration is required in the existing social media branding strategies followed at BMW. According to the past data, increased sales volume and increased You Tube viewer, it is clear that the customers are satisfied with the branding strategies of BMW and are becoming loyal customers day by day. As stated by Gommans et al. (2004), branding through social media stands an as important factor on the context of consumer sentiment toward the choice and marketing (refer to section 2.1, Chapter 2).On the contrary, very few managers are opining that the strategy needs to be changed according to the advancement in technology and the changes in consumer readiness. Due to technological changes, some additional features need to be implemented to retain the customer in a consistent way. Considering the fact, Geierhos (2011) stated that social media is a group of internet based applications that allows exchanging the content and information among the user and it needs to be altered as and when required (as mentioned in section 2.1, Chapter 2). Hence, it can be stated that although majority of the managers does not feel to alter the existing branding strategy followed at BMW, still some amount of alteration will be needed as per the changing environment and the need and awareness of the consumers.

Q6. How do you think social media branding strategy concerning BMW could be improved?

Although most of the managers do not feel major necessity of changes within its social media branding, still the managers think that some additional input needs to be incorporated within the system. Two managers think that online blogging can be incorporated additionally as a brand building exercise. As mentioned by Srinivasan et al. (2005) that blogging can act as the way of increasing the brand value by means of positive word of mouth (as mentioned in section 2.3, Chapter 2. On the contrary, three managers feel that online voting through social media can act as a strong medium of enhancing the brand value of the firm. According to the opinion of Reigner (2007) online voting can become a part of brand building exercise by reaching a comparative study of the competitors publicly (as mentioned in section 2.8, Chapter 2). However, last respondent feels that feedback evaluation could stand as an effective parameter as brand building exercise as the negative and positive both types of feedback is given by the consumers publicly. The same could enhance the brand image of a firm by getting positive feedback about the organisation and could decrease the brand image also by giving negative feedback. Hence, it is clear that incorporating these extra features could improve the brand building exercise strongly and could create a sound brand image of the organisation in the competitive environment.

 

 

Chapter 5

Conclusion and Recommendation

5.0 Introduction:

Analysing the possible effectiveness and the necessity of social media, inference has been drawn on the same and the recommendations has been given in this chapter. The inferences have been drawn by linking objectives with the outcome of the research. Research objectives are linked with the response gained from the quantitative and qualitative responses gained from the survey questionnaires and face-to-face interview. The inference would become helpful in arriving at the conclusion on the need of social media and its impact for enhancing the brand loyalty and brand image of BMW UK.

5.1 Linking with objectives:

Objective 1: To understand the present branding strategy that helps in building the brand image of BMW

Objective 1 describes the significance of present branding strategy followed at BMW for enhancing the brand value and image. The present objective can be addressed by analysing the inference drawn from question 5, question 4 , question 7 and question 8 of quantitative measure followed by question 1, question 2 from qualitative measure. From question 7 it can be stated that social media, radio, TV and other online advertising has been followed by BMW out of which social media is extensively used. Question 8 describes that You Tube and facebook is the highest priority social media used at BMW. As stated by Berthon et al. (2008), social media could provide all necessary information about the price along with the features and services offered by the firm (refer to section 2.8, Chapter 2). However, question 4 describes that social media has impacted broadly in consumer buying behaviour at BMW. Considering the same fact, Okazaki (2009) stated that social media could help in innovating new things as per the demand of the consumer and that could impact on consumer buying behaviour (as stated in section 2.5). Question 5 describes that BMW has achieved improved sales volume as compared to last year with an effective engagement of social media as marketing channel.

Furthermore, question 1 and question 2 of qualitative measure gives the inference on the same. Majority of the managers also think that You Tube and other social media is extensively used by BMW and is very helpful in building the brand image of BMW and the brand value and brand image can be maintained by using positive word of mouth. As stated by Mangold and Faulds (2009), social media could be termed as a search engine for establishing good relation and brand image of the firm (as stated in section 2.6). Hence, it can be inferred that present branding strategy followed at BMW could help in building the brand image and reputation of BMW in the long run.

Objective 2: To evaluate the impact of social media practices on marketing and branding for BMW

Objective 2 can be justified by analysing the conclusion drawn from question 2, question 3 and question 6 of quantitative analysis followed by question 3 and question 4 of qualitative measure.  According to the question 2 of quantitative analysis it can be said that product and brand awareness can be made to the customers by using social media practices and the same has been observed for BMW. Similar fact has been stated by Berthon et al. (2008) that social media can create awareness among the users about the new arrivals of the products and the doubts can be made clear by the same. Not only this, the substitute arrival of any products along with its comparative features can also be made available with the use of social media and the same can be derived from question 3 of quantitative analysis. Fisher (2009) stated that new arrivals can be made available to the customers by means You Tube videos in a cost effective way (as stated in section 2.8).

However, question 3 of qualitative measure describes that majority of the managers think that positive word of mouth cam effect significantly on the buying behaviour of the consumers and it directly creates a wider base of loyal customer. As opined by Sherry (2003) that word of mouth could be taken as the informal way of getting new customers in long run and it can enhance the brand image of the organisation in the competitive market (as mentioned in section 2.3). On the other hand, question 4 describes that majority of the managers think that Face book and You Tube could create a higher number of customer base within a shorter time length and BMW has gained maximum number of You Tube viewer as compared to its competitor that has made the brand value of BMW in the marketplace.

Objective 3: To find out the way of using social media practices effectively in building brand image exercise for the organisation

Objective 3 can be addressed by analysing question 10, question 11 and question 12 of quantitative measure followed by question 5 and question 6 of qualitative analysis. According to question 10, 11 and 12 (quantitative section) it can be analysed that blogging, online voting and feedback evaluation can be treated as an effective tool for establishing the brand image of the firm. Online blogging can be used as a brand building exercise where each customer get freedom of giving opinion about the products or services offered by the firm (derived from question 10). Similarly, Riegner (2007) stated that online voting can become an effective tool for building the brand since it gives the comparison between varied range of products (mentioned in section 2.8) and the same fact could be derived from question 11 of quantitative measure. However, majority of the customers think that feedback evaluation can also be used as the brand building exercise in the long run as it gives the total feedback of the consumers about the likings and disliking (derived from question 12).

Furthermore, question 6 (qualitative analysis) describes that manager of BMW thinks online voting can be treated as the brand building exercise by reaching a comparative study and online blogging could also be used for enhancing the brand image of the firm by employing positive word of mouth of the consumers. On the contrary, few managers argued that some ways are also required to change due to the technological advancement and the globalised environment. The same fact has been derived from question 5 (qualitative section). Considering the fact, Geierhos (2011) argued that alteration is requires as and when depending on the changing perception of the customers and the areas of living followed by rapid technological changes (as stated in section 2.1, Chapter 2). Hence, it can be concluded that by implementing some new initiatives in the application of social media and adopting technological changes could be a key parameter of maintaining an effective brand image of BMW UK.

5.2 Recommendations:

Proper implementation of social media could impact positively on the consumer buying behaviour and that could improve the brand image of the firm. Some key factors need to be taken care for arriving brand loyalty:

Incorporate some new applications in social media:

Although, Face book is very large platform it is not much effective as compared to other means in the context of converting to sales. As per the data of Shop.org or Partnering Group, 68% of the customers use You Tube to browse and research products and 70 percent consumers click on a retail blog to the website of the firm. From Shop.org, it has been found that 6.90% of the average retailers are being followed on facebook and 8.50% of retailers are being followed on twitter, whereas 9.30% of retailers followed by using Pinterest. In this context, organisation can have a mobile strategy to ensure that consumers can access the website of BMW from any location whether the consumers are using mobile, smart phones or computers.

Find out right timings of coordinating with consumers:

A lot of time can be wasted at the time of sending tweets to the consumers and fans during engaged time period. All followers cannot be online at the same time but the average online time can be found according to which the consumers can be contacted. When the majority of the consumers stay online, the content needs to be posted right then and the same could be effective for the organisation. Using SocialBro organisation can analyse and identify the timing of being online of the twitter followers. As a result, more followers can be contacted within a more optimal timing. Apart from this, SocialBro also does the integration with BufferApp so that once the organisation identify the right times, it can automatically set that times up with Buffer.

Focusing more on content marketing:

Developing useful and necessary content within the advertisement could create positivity in the buying behaviour of the customers. Content marketing influences sales a lot. It basically helps to answer questions made by the consumer, by showing the process of using products and providing customer reviews. All the features, product information needs to show one after another depending on the priority. Highest sales volume can be achieved by establishing consumer loyalty and brand value. It has been observed that deals or coupons can impact on total sales up to 51% whereas product information can lead sales up to 45% and comments can lead the sales up to 38% followed by event related information that can make impact on 34% of the total sales. These techniques can impact heavily on consumer buying behaviour that can make the brand loyalty in the long run thereby making a strong brand name within the marketplace.

Increasing the frequency of communication with consumers:

The increased frequency of communication with the consumer can improve the brand value of an organisation. Frequent communication shows the discipline and the caring nature of the organisations to the consumers. Any query, doubt, usage procedure of the consumer can be solved and a closure customer connect can be arrived. However, any suggestions or further improvement can also be gained from the consumer side by increasing the frequency of communication. The closeness of the customers with the firm can build mutual trust and the loyalty to the organisation.

Managing comments using Enagag.io:

All the comments and suggestions made to the consumers can be easily trapped by using Enagag.io which brings conversations and comments into one location. However, apart from blog comments conversation on other popular social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn etc can also be traced from which the uncovered conversations can also be traced to further involve within the conversation.

5.3 Limitations of the research:

In this study 55 respondents were selected for conducting quantitative analysis. It has become difficult to conduct the study within stipulated time frame having a large number of respondents. For conducting the study properly, number of respondents 50 would be much authentic. However, in qualitative analysis 5 middle line managers were chosen for conducting face to face interview for getting the actual scenario of social media practices followed at BMW. Employing more number of managers could have given more accurate opinion about the implications of social media on BMW. Finally, a greater time space could have given accurate result in this research study.

5.4 Future scope of the research:

This study was focused on the impact of social media in UK automobile industry in enhancing the brand image and brand loyalty of the organisation and BMW has been chosen for the particular segment. The study could gain a bigger aspect if a comparative study would have been conducted with respect to other organisation. However, the study can be conducted for other industry also and it could create a broader aspect on marketing strategy and customer loyalty in the context of international business environment.

 

 

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Appendix:

Quantitative questions:

Q1 Would you agree that effective brand can make you becoming loyal to the brand?

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

 

Q2 Do you think social media can create awareness about the new arrivals among customers ?

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

Q3 Do you agree that social media help you in evaluating the benefits and features of different substitute arrivals?

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

 

Q4 Do you think social media is important for perceiving better buying decisions?

 

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

 

Q5 Are you agree with the fact that social media is a strong tool for brand building at BMW?

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

 

Q6 Do you agree that social media stands informative considering the case of BMW?

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

Q7 Which tool is scoring the highest priority as a promotional tool at BMW?

  • Radio
  • Social media
  • TV
  • Online advertisements and PR

Q8  Which social media is used most significantly  by BMW  ?

  • Facebook
  • You Tube
  • Twitter
  • Blogg

Q9 Would you think social media can enable customers to compare and contrast similar products in automobile industry?

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

Q10 Would you agree that online blogging can be treated as brand building exercise for organisation?

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

Q11 Would you think that online voting can be treated as the brand building exercise?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Q12 Do you think that feedback evaluation stands effective as brand building exercise?

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

 

Qualitative questions

Q1. What are the present branding strategies followed by BMW?

Q2. Do you think these branding strategies are effective enough in building a good brand image for the organisation?

Q3. How do you think social media impacts on the organisational brand image?

Q4. Are the common social media channels likely to contribute positively on BMW’s brand image in future?

Q5. Are the existing social media branding strategies need alterations? If so why?

Q6. How do you think social media branding strategy concerning BMW could be improved?

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