Chapter 1: Introduction
In the present dynamic business world, it is very challenging for marketers to track and/or understand customer purchasing behavior. Most importantly is challenging for the car/motor industry including Toyota Motors. This is because the customer buying behavior is changing very frequently with rapid changes of technologies used in the business activities, customer purchasing process, buying decision, and after-sale services. On the other hand, the use of social media as a marketing tool is providing huge opportunities for marketers to interact with their customers and to understand and track their buying behaviors. This new and innovative marketing tool is being widely used in the current digital business world, which is being popular day by day. This is because billions of people nowadays are engaging within social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.
However, many organizations, the most important companies in the motor/car industry, are facing difficulties in using this digital tool as an effective marketing tool to understand their customer buying behaviors. Thus, it has been an issue for the motor industry including Toyota Motors to conduct a study on how it uses social media as an effective marketing tool to track customer buying behavior.
This chapter gives an overview of the undertaking research, where the research background is discussed in the first section following the research problems as well as research rationale. Then, the importance of the research is discussed which is followed by research aims, objectives and research questions. Finally, the structure and what are the next chapters are disclosed.
1.1 Research Background
In this current digital world, technology has been playing a vital role in the way of gaining business organizational goals and objectives. On the other hand, people are being more dependent on technologies than ever before. People nowadays do not like to spend a single minute without technology. Thus, the rapid development and changes in technological development are influencing the customer buying behavior frequently. Therefore, marketers are being dependent nowadays on the technologies used in business activities most importantly in marketing and promotional purposes. According to Czinkota, Kotabe and Mercer (2014), businesses are successful that are using technologies in their business effectively and efficiently. Lumis (2015) states that technology can play a significant role in the tracking of customer buying behavior. This is because technology can use effectively for interactive communications, where the customer demand and expectations can be disclosed clearly, which cannot be possible in the traditional way. However, customer buying behavior can be different in different regions, cultures and communities. Therefore, social media can be used as a marketing tool to track the varied customer buying behavior in different regions, communities and cultures.
Mangold and Smith (2015) state that in the current world billion of people are using social media where this number is increasing day by day. A report published by Social Media Examiner (2015), only Facebook has more than 1.25 billion users, where a billion videos are uploaded to YouTube every year. This trend indicates that marketers in the car/motor industry including Toyota Motors have a huge opportunity to use social media as a marketing channel in this business, mainly to track their target and potential customers purchasing behavior. However, many car/motor companies including Toyota are facing difficulties in the use of social media as a marketing tool in tracking their customer buying behavior. Toyota, which is the leading Japanese car company and operating in global markets including the UK, is facing great challenges in understating the customer changing needs and expectations.
On the other hand, the competitive marketplaces and different alternative choices are giving opportunities to the consumers to think of alternative brands (Toyota Motors Annual Report, 2016). Thus, Toyota is nowadays facing difficulties to gain a sustainable competitive advantage in the market. As a result, it has come under deep consideration of car/motor companies including Toyota to understand the customer changing buying behaviors using social media marketing tool. Hence, this study evaluates the impact of social media as a marketing tool on customer buying behavior from the perspective of Toyota’s business.
1.2 Research problems
Tracking and understanding customer changing purchasing behavior is one of the hot topics in the current business world, most importantly in the motor/car industry including Toyota Motors. This is because, as Moore (2014) notes, if marketers can perfectly understand the customer buying behavior, it is easier for the businesses to take effective initiatives to motivate the customers and meet their needs and expectations. Johnson et al. (2015) state that it is easier for marketers to understand the customer buying behavior through interactive marketing communication channels, rather than traditional marketing channels. As Social Media Examiner (2015) reports, social networks are being used more widely to track and understand customer expectations and buying behavior than ever before. However, organizations including Toyota Motors are facing difficulties in getting expected outcomes from the social media marketing campaigns (Toyota Annual Report, 2014).
This is because social media marketing campaigns have significant negative effects along with positive impacts. For example, a single negative comment through social media (such as Facebook) may spread out among millions of people within a minute, which can significantly impact the company’s brand image, even on the revenue and profit. On the other hand, it is difficult to classify the customer segment through social media marketing. A study conducted by Padgett et al. (2013) shows that online buyers and technology fans are more sensitive than traditional buyers. Thus, the automobile industry including Toyota has been suffering from this issue because of its unawareness towards the use of digital marketing channels including social media marketing. In addition, the aggressive competitors are giving hard time to Toyota in gaining sustainable competitive advantages including improved revenue and profit. Therefore, it has been a challenging factor for Toyota to understand its customer purchasing behavior through effective use of social media as a marketing tool.
1.3 Research Rationales
Kotler et al. (2014) state tracing and understanding customer buying behavior is widely recognized as the key issue for the success of a business. This is because customer demand and expectations are changing very frequently. In addition, rapid technological development influences customer buying behavior significantly (Lee and Carter, 2015). Thus, the digital marketing communication channels, most importantly social media marketing channels are getting more popularly than ever before to understand customer changing needs and their buying behavior. Marketing based on the internet has been reported to have a major influence on customer purchasing behavior such as their opinions and ideas, buying decisions, information gathering etc (Leon and Joseph, 2016). Hence, social media allows marketers to have a deep understanding of how the power of conversation can affect their marketing strategy.
Shelly and Frydenberg (2015) highlight that, marketers can assess the shared customer’s views and opinions on social media to improve their marketing strategy, campaigns and meeting customer expectations. Recent research shows that about 97% of all marketers in modern companies use social media as part of their marketing strategy (Social Media Examiner, 2014). Therefore, an organization including Toyota is giving more concern to the use of social media as a marketing channel to motivate the target and potential customers towards their products. However, marketing including Toyota is facing challenges in understanding its customer buying behavior through its social media marketing channels. Thus, this study has been significant for Toyota to improve its social media marketing campaigns to influence the potential and target customers through their buying process.
1.4 Significance of the study
The outcome of this study is recognized as significant for both the automobile company including Toyota and the researcher. The automobile company is facing challenges in using social media as the marketing tool to recognize the customer buying behavior and to influence the customer through their business. This study finds out the factors which influence the customer in their buying process towards the brand. Then, the study finds the impact of social media marketing on customer buying behavior. Next, the study defines the weaknesses of the social media marketing campaigns used by Toyota to understand customer buying behavior. Finally, the study recommends the Toyota for improving its social media marketing techniques and to motivate the customers towards the brand. These mean the out of this study has sorted out the problems faced by automobile company and guide the automobile industry including Toyota to understand the purchasing behavior of their target customers and to influence them for buying.
On the contrary, the research is advantaged in several ways from this study. The research did not have enough experience before conducting this research work. However, now the researcher is very confident about how to conduct research work for a business successfully. These experiences will help the researcher in near future to get a good job in the research industry. Secondly, this research work has developed the researcher’s interpersonal skills. Before conducting this work, the researcher had weaknesses in communication (mainly written communication), problem identifying and solving, decision making and time management. Now the researcher has learned how to deal with these issues. In a word, the research is now very optimistic that the learning through the study will help him in the achievement of better career………..
Total word: 8637