Social Media and Consumer Decision Making

Social Media Influence In Consumer Decision Making

Abstract

The impact reference groups or social connections have in an online marketing environment, on the product purchase decisions of consumers is analyzed in this article. The influence of social media in the decision making process of consumers is investigated, and the influence of the strength of social ties on the final decision are discussed. The article discusses theories and concepts related to social relations, social media, and consumer purchase decision making process. To understand the impact social media has on consumer purchase decision, interview is conducted with micro and macro business owners using Facebook business pages, and having over 50 fans for their fan page. To analyze the data statistical analysis, and descriptive analysis methods are used. The research concludes that a strong tie in social relations serves to influence the purchase decision making process of consumers positively. To create a successful business by adopting an online marketing strategy, building strong social relations is important.

Research Overview

Social scientists have for a long duration highlighted the importance of group membership when it comes to determining individual or group behavior. The fact that individuals act according to a reference frame produced by groups to which they have widely been accepted has been perceived as a sound premise for some time. Marketers have widely accepted the construct of a reference group as critical in at least some forms of consumer decision-making. With the growth of the internet, and online marketing, social media is becoming an indispensable part in everyday lives of people. People are social beings, and at present, consumers are participating in activities like sharing experiences, knowledge, and opinions online. They also take part in online discussions to share their experiences with a product or a service.

The speed with which information transfers has increased with the electronic word of mouth growing more rapidly. Positive recommendations and discussions online have the potential to bring in increased business volume for firms in a short time. There is also the probability of a negative complaint online that can cause mistrust in a service or a product. A new form of social communication has been made possible by online media. Groups or individuals who might never meet in person are able to influence consumer behavior and their purchase decisions. The increasing use of social media is evident from the growth in online population using social network sites. Facebook the leading social media website has observed 23% growth in its user population during 2013, with 1.1 billion users making use of the site each month.

Social Media Decision Making
Social Media Decision Making

This study investigates the influence of reference groups online brand and product purchase decisions by looking at the interrelations between forms of product use conspicuousness and forms of influence from reference groups in social media. Consumers have a wide access to different types of social media, tools, and platforms. Social media significantly impacts the process of information sharing amongst individuals in the online shopping environment. Through this research, the role played by social media reference groups in forming strong or weak relationships with consumers that can influence the consumer decision making process are investigated.

Problem Statement

The study proposes to investigate the relationship between the social media influence of online users, the behavior intentions of consumers, and the role of social media influence in consumer decision making process. The strategy of information search online is adopted by consumers to reduce the risks involved in a purchase decision. Increasing technological advancements lead to ease of information access. Consumers can easily obtain information about services or products through social media before making a purchase. This research is focused on making both practical and academic contributions. Academically, it serves to bridge the gap between consumer decision making and the influence of social media reference groups in forming weak or strong relationship with consumers. Practically, social media marketers benefit from the research results. They can gain a deeper understanding of an online shopping consumer’s decision making process.

Research Questions

Research questions to be explored to investigate the social media phenomenon in online shopping are;

  1. What are the characteristics of social and online influence groups and references?
  2. Personal and demographic factors like gender, age, education, and profession have an influence on information shared through social media. Their experience and prior knowledge influences their level of social influence.
  3. What are the ways through which information and ideas travel through such a reference group or an online community?
  4. The credibility of the source depends on the reference group and the way in which information is conveyed. An understanding of how information or ideas travel through the reference community helps in identifying factors that have a high level of influence on consumer decision making.
  5. What are some forms of ties or connections do consumers have to other consumers in the communities?
  6. Consumers form ties in the online community, resulting in the establishment of a reference group or community. By investigating in what ways and how such communities are formed, social media marketers can leverage their online advertising campaigns.
  7. How is consumer decision making influenced by social media reference groups and communities.
  8. Social media reference groups, and communities alike, are proposed hypothesized to play a major role in the purchase decision of consumers.

Research Aims and Objectives

The research aims to investigate the ways in which social media influences consumer decision making during an online purchase. The various ways in which a social media group or community is used as a reference, the ways through which such groups or communities are accessed, and ways in which information is accessed from these groups by consumers are investigated. Main objectives of research are;

  • To identify the ways in which social media has established a source of power and leveled the playing field for consumers?
  • To investigate in what ways leaders of these reference groups or opinion leaders develop in online communities or any other reference group.
  • To analyze what some of the roles of social capital play when it comes to value of the social communities created on social media?
  • To offer recommendations to social media marketers on how reference groups and communities can be leveraged to their firm’s advantage.

Rationale for Research

The results obtained from this research could offer considerable evidence on the influence social media has on online marketing. The overall process of consumer decision making while making an online purchase decision, combined with the influence of social media helps managers reduce risks involved in social media marketing, at the same time offering recommendations on the ways in which they can increase their online credibility. Research on social media marketing is relatively new in marketing research. Negligible research exists on interrelating social media marketing and its influence in the consumer decision making process. This research focuses mainly on online shopping, social media, and reference group influence on consumer decision making. So, the theoretical contribution of this research helps fill in the gap in previous literature.

Research Methodology

Business pages created on Facebook are the central tool and the key research methodology is action research. Action research involves making systematic observations, and collection of data, that can be used to solve problems, and improve professional business practices. Micro and small businesses are focused. Data is gathered through interview and by using questionnaire. Facebook pages created by small entrepreneurs are used to create a fan base for their small enterprises. As the page continuous to grow and increase in size when it comes to the fan base of about 50 to 60 users data is to be conducted, mainly by carrying out semi- structured interviews.

The research design is action, qualitative research oriented with the conviction that reality is virtual created by factors of socio- economy. Primary data is gathered through semi- structured and open interviews. Data regarding the experiences of the entrepreneur while using and adopting social media like Facebook is focused upon. Secondary data is generated by the recording transcripts from the weekly training and interaction with the participants to understand their requirements and experiences. Tertiary collection of data is carried out through virtual ethnography by carrying out internet-based interviews through Google talk, chat, Skype and blogs.

Structure of Article

To ensure research meets its aims and objectives, clear research questions and research focus are developed first. Analysis of theories and concepts is done in the literature review part. Here theories and concepts relevant to social media as a marketing tool, and consumer decision making process are explored. Research methodology is developed based on literature review, and research aims. This gives a detailed outline of the research methodology to be employed for data collection. The research approach, philosophy, choices, ethical issues and methodologies are explained. Analyzed data gathered from semi – structured interview, and research findings are presented in based on which, conclusion discusses the research concisely, using which suitable recommendations are offered.

Conclusion

The way in which consumers make purchase decision has changed with the advent of social media. Rather than waiting for messages or advertisements giving information about a service or a product from companies, consumers are now seeking information on social media directly. Online community has the greatest amount of influence, especially on online shoppers. Research proposes to investigate the characteristics of online communities and reference groups involved in social media. The ways in which such groups influence the consumer decision making process is explored. For data collection, semi – structured interviews are conducted with online micro and small business entrepreneurs making use of social media tools like Facebook and blogs.

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Ryanair Business Environment

An Internal and External Business Environment Analysis of Ryanair

The objective of this research paper is to conduct an analysis of internal and external business environment of a service company. For this purpose airline global industry has been chosen as a case study because of its importance in the current economic and political scenario. International investment, world trade and economic growth are some important factors deriving this industry (Porter, 1986). The present paper will undergo strategic analysis of internal and external environment of Ryanair in relation to its performance in the global Airline industry. It will allow identification of factors that affect the profitability and popularity of a company. In the end recommendations will be suggested accordingly. Lets look at the Ryanair business environment.

Company Background – Ryanair Business Environment

Ryaniar has a long standing reputation amongst low cost airlines in Europe. Ryaniar Ltd was founded by the Ryan family in 1985 and within ten years of its establishment the company gained immense popularity because of its image as a low rent airlines. The company provides scheduled services between the UK and Ireland through its 297 Boeing aircrafts. The company still manages to maintain its image as popular airline of the world. The Ryaniar Company focuses on budget conscious leisure and business travelers for its services. People who choose other transport services to reduce the expanses of their travelling remain to but the primary target of the company. The company also aims to expand and improve its services in low fare market. The mission of Ryaniar Ltd is to become the most profitable and attractive low fare airline in Europe low cost carriage sector by brining continuous improvements in its services.

Market Description

Currently the growth and development of low cost airline is being favored in the European Airline industry and it remains the main determining factor for the evolution of an airline company. Almost 18 percent of the transport supply is being done by low cost airlines and the seats are mostly limited to medium and short haul flights. These low cost carriages are also deemed important for the passengers who want to find seat for point to point moves.

Belobaba et al. (2009) writes that global airline industry has grown by 12 percent in 2010 and the major player in this context remains to be the United States of America. The market growth is further expected to increase in years to come. It is believed that by 2015 the growth will reach to $714 billion and the number of passengers will also grow to 3 billion. Domestic market shows the leading market segment in the global airline industry and America holds about 45% value of the industry. A number of challenges are also being faced by the global airline industry after global financial crisis. By 2010 many consumers started to cut back their leisure spending and relapsed air travel by train or other cheaper means of transport. This fall in revenue is mainly fueled by increased unemployment rate and economic uncertainty (Belobaba et al., 2009).

Some negative events have also declined the business of airline industry and amongst them rising fuel prices increasing the cost of operations are most common in the history. Several times they have put a dent on the industry’s operations. Along with that, other negative players are also there amongst them increased security threat, political unrest, uncertain and exchange rates are at the top of the list.

According to a report Published in the Telegraph UK the low cost sector has increased its growth by 12 pc in the last decade. However, even the low cost airlines are not free of the negative market affects that undermines overall activity of the industry but still they are making more business that the high cost European airlines (The telegraph, 2014).

Competition

After its establishment Ryaniar faced a great deal of competition. European Union deregulation in 1990 resulted in some substantial changes on the British industry. The most important of which is the focus of people on budget airlines offering comparatively shorter routes. These airlines provided a great deal of competition and grew on expense of traditional British airlines. Later increase in fuel prices after 2008 economic crisis also resulted in further decline of luxury airlines. Competition is also not very strong as the industry is not in a healthier state to support the business of expensive airlines and a number of airlines are under the threat of disappearance because of bankruptcy. European Union promotes low wage, low cost and low income flag carriers.

Ryanir Business Environment
Ryanir Business Environment

Challenges Faced By Ryaniar

Operating environment of the airline industry is being affected by a number of challenges that range from safety issues to consumer preferences, spending patterns, political instability, weather, security and natural disasters. All these factors affect the operating environment of Ryaniar Ltd also and most of them are beyond the control of the management of any airline. The expenses of flight cannot be controlled regardless of the number of passengers travelling in the plane. In addition to this, when shrinkage in airline industry happens, the remaining cost of operations remains the same that presents immense challenges to the management. Dobruszkes (2006) adds that operating environment of some low cost airlines has become favorable because they have adopted some cost reduction strategies that mainly include the management of the marketing cost, fleet reducing services, airport maintenance, route alteration and recharge policies. Appropriate techniques for maintenance of Engines, maintenance cost of hangers, management of staff cost and marketing cost to increase productivity are also adopted. In this scenario, companies that focus on small operating basis and start internet ticketing generate more revenues (Dobruszkes, 2006).

In the European market variation related to differences in the geography and scope of the airline persist. Most of the short and middle haul airlines focus on Western Europe and the distance for flight is 1.4 hours during this time an area of 634 kilo meters is covered. The total area covered by Ryaniar and most of the other low cost airlines is less than 1000 kilometers and in most of the cases international connections are not present. In addition to this, most of the low cost airlines influencing Easy Jet and Ryaniar are poorly penetrated in central and Eastern Europe markets. Some networks are also designed for tourists to take them to their desired destinations. These airlines do not focus on the capital city but they also maintain their attention to small cities and towns where low cost flights are easier to be managed (Mason, 2001).

Services Provided By Airline Industry

The services delivered by the airline can be divided into three main categories mainly including freight services, logistics and rail passenger’s airbus. Superior services are usually delivered to the clients that are willing to pay more. Product scope of Ryaniar Ltd is large as it promotes many services. It offers a range of destination around in Europe. In addition to this, hospitality, carriage, aircraft control system and assistance in booking rest houses is also provided. Like all other airports, services at the Ryanair airports are also available that include flat beds lounges and fast track security system.

Intangibility of Services

Ryanair business environment services are intangible and cannot be smelled, touched and tasted. It cannot be processed physically possessed.

Inseparability of Production and Consumption

Inseparability of production and consumption means the production of a service cannot be separated from its consumption by customers happen simultaneously. Customers buy specific type of product and take it home but services cannot be taken home, instead they are provided in a specific manner.

Perishability

Perishability is another characteristic of the service that means once services are produced they cannot be stored because of which supply demand gap arises.

Heterogeneity

Heterogeneity means that variation in the quality of services because of which standardization cannot be maintained. This makes the maintained of quality of service delivery a difficult task for service providers.

Challenges

Customer safety and quality issues are at the heart of any service sector and same is true for the airline industry. Here the quality of services acquires central place for the organizations. Quality of services is assured by the notion of truth that primarily reflects the importance company gives to handle each and every customer. Therefore, for service industries it becomes extremely important to design and manage activities in a way that can assure good quality services to the passengers (Janawade, 2013).

According to Janawade (2013) service quality management is still the subject of debate for the management of airline companies. The diversity of the airline services makes it harder for the administration to maintain good standard of services at each front. The quality of flight meals clean and airy airports, luxurious waiting areas, hygienic environment of washrooms, customer care and maintenance of airplanes are some areas of quality that remain the focus attention of the administration. Sometimes it becomes harder for the company to maintain superior quality services when budget is low and economic uncertainty prevails in the market. This is the reason for which some airlines fail to maintain good quality in-flight environment. The issue of measuring service quality has always been raised by the customers who pay a huge amount to travel across the world. Business class customers are often more cautious about the way they are treated at the airport and also in the airplane. Some other areas are also there that create major issues for the management and they include mishandling of baggage, late flights and misinformation (Janawade, 2013).

Along with the quality of services the rate of accidents and incidence also becomes the prime concerns for passengers who opt to travel in an airline. Total rate of incidents, rate of accidents, mid air collision and pilot’s deviations are some of the events that affect the safety of airline operations. The overall safety ratio of the global airline industry has declined in the past decade. Many technological issues arise because of poor maintenance of the aircraft. Moreover, the entire industry is under the threat of customer safety issues mainly generated by political unrest and legal bindings of the company. Airline industry remains the center of attention of the government and public as far as the passenger’s safety issues are concerned and many times these issues have resulted in serious debates that presented the industry with a number of challenges (Janawade, 2013).

There are a number of regulatory issues as well that affect the service delivery in the airline industry. Airline industry remains the center of attention of the government of a country and hence is mostly subjected to extensive regulations of the government. Many legal compliance and regulatory requirements are there for the industry. In the US airline industry FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations matter greatly, which change from time to time and put airline industry under scrutiny. Same is true for other areas including Europe, Australia and Asia. Other acts such as transport security act result in federalization of some security procedures. Government of the UK keeps proposing increase in taxes that directly affect the revenue generation of the industry. In addition to all this, other regulatory changes are also expected that may range from security concerns to fuel emission and environment safety issues. All these factors may further affect the business deleteriously.

Success of Organization in the Management of Challenges

As stated above a number of challenges are being faced by the airline industry and they are regulated by the key players in the industry. Key players in the airline industry are those that have direct or indirect affect over the business and amongst them airline manufacturers, air navigation service providers and air-port construction teams are important, along with them, political atmosphere of a country and fuel price are also some intangible factors that affect the business of the airline industry. Policies and procedures of the ‘department of the trade and industry’ can positively or negatively affect then business (Mason, 2001). Along with this, employee’s turnover rate has become a major problem for the companies that tend to develop and make progress. A good human resource management system can aid companies to reduce turnover rate by keeping employees satisfied with the job. Companies with a high rate of employee’s turnover often face a great deal of pressure in terms of the management and training of their employees (Richard et al. 2001). The global airline industry has managed its growth by maintaining its operations in suitable limits of economy. Dobruszkes (2006) explains that European airline industry is the one that prefers evolution of low cost airline networks. Because of the demands and competition trend in the market this concept became famous after 1995. The European low cost airline scope has actually met by Ryaniar and Easy Jet that have felicitated customers who previously chose other transport system because of high rent of the airlines. Ryaniar airline alone has carried 70 million passengers in the year 2012 and is expected to increase its size.

Bamber et al. (2013) writes that though turnover rate of employees in an industry vary greatly with time and many factors play their part in this context. Sometimes nature of the job and low wage becomes the cause of a high turnover rate in case of some industry such as fast food and call centers. When compared to the other sectors the rate of employee’s turnover in airline industry is comparatively low (Bamber et al., 2013).

Richard et al. (2001) also say that airline industry show low turnover rate compared to any other industry of the world. Overall turnover rate of the industry is 9 percent that shows employees are not replaced very quickly over a particular time period. However, increased fuel prices and deregulation act in the late 1980s have made the industry less attractive. Operating cost has increased to a considerable extent and worker’s pay has reduced. Many other airline companies in the world including that of American and Asia have also decided a wage cut off to reduce the cost of operation within the system. In addition to this, 100,000 employees of only American airline industry were laid off after deregulation act. This has given rise to an uncertain working culture and some of the employees opt to find jobs in another industry that is less uncertain than the airline sector (Richard et al. 2001). Bamber et al. (2013) conclude in their research paper that airline industry needs to maintain its attractiveness in order to keep employees happy and contented with their jobs.

Forces Deriving the Airline Industry

A number of forces derive the airlines industry that range from customer satisfaction issues, strategic planning, point to point roots, terminal and aircraft facility, online booking services, reduced lines at the ticket corner and economy of scale. Along with customer safety other factors are also there that create management challenges for the airline companies. Staff safety at the airport is also one of the major concerns of the administration that results in poor working morale of the staff members.

References

Bamber, G. J., Gittell, J. H., Kochan, T. A., & Von Nordenflycht, A. (2013). Up in the air: How airlines can improve performance by engaging their employees. Cornell University Press.

Belobaba, P., Odoni, A., & Barnhart, C. (Eds.). (2009). The global airline industry (Vol. 23). John Wiley & Sons.

Dobruszkes, F. (2006). An analysis of European low-cost airlines and their networks. Journal of Transport Geography14(4), 249-264.

Hanlon, J. P. (2007). Global airlines: competition in a transnational industry. Routledge.

Janawade Z., 2013, customer perception quality of complex services, France, Paul Cezanne University, p. 2-14.

Mason, K. J. (2001). Marketing low-cost airline services to business travellers.Journal of Air Transport Management7(2), 103-109.

Porter, M. E. (Ed.). (1986). Competition in global industries. Harvard Business Press.

Richard, O. C., & Johnson, N. B. (2001). Strategic human resource management effectiveness and firm performance. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 12(2), 299-310.

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Advertising Dissertation Topics

Outstanding Advertising Dissertation Topics

Advertising Dissertation Topics – Advertising is an interesting and an interactive area of study that is closely associated to the field of marketing. Each year, brands spend vast amounts of money on research and development to find out the characteristic of their target audience and then trying to capitalize on that using cutting edge advertising techniques in order to beat the competition. With this in mind, when you have chosen your advertising dissertation topic you will begin to learn much more about products, consumers, marketing strategy and a wide variety of advertising media. There are other advertising and marketing concepts that may influence the design and content of your advertising dissertation topic. Try to do as much investigative work at the beginning of your dissertation, don’t change your advertising dissertation topic part way through your dissertation as this will prove problematic, you have time constraints when writing your dissertation and this will set you back.

Advertising has evolved so much and it has not stood still. It is safe to say that many advertising strategies used decades ago would not suit today’s fast moving ecommerce driven environments. Modern advertising requirements have seen the introduction of graphic design and media design agencies.

Be mindful that advertising has a wide range of research fields that touches all walks of life around the world. An advantage of writing your own advertising dissertation topic is that you have to follow the conventional rules of advertisement and this will unearth many questions. Why have adverts and advertising techniques changed so much over the past three decades? Why are advertising campaigns from previous eras not as effective as current advertising techniques? Today’s advertising world has been influenced by social changes, globalization, technology, political and cultural developments, it may be worthwhile incorporating these questions into your own advertising dissertation topic.

What is required from an outstanding advertising dissertation topic? Your dissertation needs to be refreshing, on topic, fluid and needs to engage the reader. Don’t deviate away from your chosen advertising dissertation topic. Keep on track, be concise when needed and ensure you adopted the correct structure for your advertising dissertation. What areas can you assess when writing your advertising dissertation topic?

Online Marketing and Advertising on the Internet

Online marketing and the internet is an interesting area to look into. The internet has transformed advertising and it is an important and wide-reaching tool that has become an effective marketing tool for companies around the world. Basing your advertising dissertation topic in this field does have its advantages as there will be copious amounts of research available to you. There is every chance that the available research is up to date and current.

Advertising Dissertation Topics
Advertising Dissertation Topics

It is safe to say that the internet has become the foremost selling tool for businesses, regardless of business size, industry and location. Advertising on the internet is a task that can have a profound impact on a business if deployed correctly and on the other hand advertising can be costly if not performed correctly. There are many examples of failed advertising campaigns for you to investigate along with success stories. The effectiveness of advertising strategy would make an ideal advertising dissertation topic to investigate.

There are many areas of internet advertising you may wish to consider:

  • The rise of online video marketing
  • Subliminal advertising using imagery
  • Comparisons between current online advertising and conventional advertising strategies
  • Implications of Web 2.0 interactive advertising

If you decide to investigate this field it is advisable to examine the aspects of online advertising in depth in order to form a robust advertising dissertation topic. There will be existing advertising dissertation topics for you to critique and this will give you a valuable insight into what is needed to write an outstanding advertising dissertation. Take inspiration from advertising dissertations written by successful university students this is a fundamental principle of our website.

Use of Social Media in Advertising

Social media is used heavily in the modern advertising world. It is rare for any business to launch an advertising campaign without the use of social media. Social media is used as an interactive toolset to communicate with an audience. You may wish to base your advertising dissertation topic on this field of study. Examining how social media interactive tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and blog comments contribute to the outcome of an advertising campaign. Social signals are an important factor of online advertising strategy.

Print Media

Is print media still relevant? Graphic designers who specialise in physical and print media advertising state that these techniques are still relevant to modern advertising. There is still demand for magazines, novelty items, vehicle design and billboards. Even though the internet has affected the print media industry there is still a demand for this advertising medium. It may be worth basing your advertising dissertation topic on this subject area. Explore why print media advertising campaigns resemble internet advert design – is this to offer an internet-like visual experience? I’m sure writing an advertising dissertation topic in this area will prove divisive and engaging for the reader.

Advertising Advertising Dissertation Topics and Ideas

Below is a list of advertising dissertation topics for you to assess. I do hope you take inspiration from these advertising dissertation topics in an attempt to kick start your own dissertation. Please be mindful that the below advertising dissertation topics have been submitted to universities and are offered as a guide for reference purposes.

Dissertation – The Influence of Advertising on Consumer Behaviour

Dissertation – Advertising and Semiotics as Meaningful Signs

Dissertation – Effects of Advertising and Its Impact on the Consumption of Alcohol by Young People

Dissertation – Creative Advertising versus Direct Marketing

I do hope you found this article helpful and you are now in a position to write your own outstanding advertising dissertation topic. Please feel free to leave a comment below and I will endeavor to respond to any questions you have.

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Marketing Concepts Research Dissertations