I would like to acknowledge the contribution of my honorable parents (both mother and father) for their great contribution to my career life. I would also thank my honorable supervisor at London Southbank University who supported me a lot through effective feedback, guidance and suggestions. The supervisor was very cordial, friendly and helpful. Then, I would say many thanks to all the participants (mainly in the survey, interview, and focused group) who helped me a lot by taking part in this study and sharing their valuable opinions. I appreciate all of the participants in the survey for their valuable information and for spending their valuable time with me. Most importantly, many thanks to the customers who joined in the interview and focused group and given their times and opinions. Finally, I would like to appreciate to the publishers of data sources (including books, journals, and websites) used in this study. The librarians at London Southbank University were very friendly and helpful and supported me a lot in the completion of this study.
The aim of the research is to critically analyze the effectiveness of social media as a marketing tool in increasing brand awareness among the target and potential customers in UK retail sector. The objectives of the research are: 1. evaluate academic marketing and communication models used to build up a relationship with customers; 2. analyze the importance of brand awareness in the UK retail sector; 3. analyze the importance of social media marketing in UK retail sector; 4. evaluate the impact of social media as marketing tools on brand awareness in the perspective of customer view in UK retail sector; 5. provide recommendations for marketers in UK retail sector (including ASDA) on how social media as a marketing tool can more effectively be used to create and increase brand awareness.
The research methodology followed pragmatism philosophy. To design the research descriptive and explanatory research design were used. To gather the secondary data literature review was performed. To gather primary data a survey, an interview and focus groups were done. In the survey, 16 questions were there of which 15 questions were open-ended and one was close-ended. The sample size was 100, who were the customers of ASDA of different age groups including both male and female. In the interview, 10 participants were asked 8 questions about the brand awareness and social media marketing of ASDA. In the focus group, 5 customers took participation where 2 were male and 3 were female. 2 female were housewives and the rest of the participants were students. To analyze the primary data, the SPSS method and thematic methods were used.
The survey, interview and focus group reveal that in creating brand awareness social media marketing plays an important role. According to the participants of the survey, interview and focus group, most customers are attracted by the social media activities of the company and they are mainly motivated by the positive reviews of other customers given on social media. To improve the social media marketing and increase brand awareness, the participants also recommended some points. They recommended improving the visuals, improving the security, increasing the information, etc. to increase the brand awareness more of a brand like ASDA.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Increasing brand awareness among the target customers is now a significant issue for businesses. This is because marketers are now facing great challenges to understand the changing needs and expectations of their customers (Jhonson et al., 2015). Thus, marketers are nowadays using several marketing channels to increase brand awareness among the target and potential customers (Kotler et al., 2014). Most importantly, social media as a marketing tool is now playing a significant role to create and increase brand awareness among the target customers. However, social media marketing sometimes negatively affects brand image and awareness. Therefore, marketers are now giving more concentration on the impact of social media marketing on brand awareness than ever before (Social Media Examiner, 2017).
Brand awareness is the recognition of customers about a brand and its products and services. In competitive markets, creating a strong brand image and brand awareness among target customers are now under the deep concern of marketers (Palmer, 2016). Kokemuller (2015) stated that creating strong brand awareness among the target customers is the first initiative of marketers to promote products and services. Johnson et al. (2015) brand awareness initiatives make a favorable impression among target and potential consumers and create a buzz in the marketplaces. Kotler et al. (2014) said, increasing brand awareness is now a challenging issue for the markets due to the rapid development in this digital era. Thus, marketers are using different digital marketing tools to increasing their brand awareness, where social media is playing significant roles.
Gillin (2015) defined the term ‘social media as the collective online communication channels (like Google) and social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Boies (2013) said social media help marketers in creating brand advocates, managing brand reputation, and humanizing brand rand. Petrescu and Davie (2014) stated that social media marketing creates advocacy, exposure of the brand, and increase the visibility of brands. However, social media bring negative outcomes sometimes on brand awareness because of viral among millions of people within a moment (Burns, 2014). Therefore, marketers need to aware of using social media as a marketing tool to increase their brand awareness.
ASDA is one of the leading retailers in the UK with 16.9% of the market share. It is using several social network sites to increase its brand awareness. ASDA’s Facebook page has attracted over 850,000 likes, whereas the Twitter of ASDA boasts about 110,000. Campaigns with branded tweets have driven ASDA sales among 330,000 followers. ASDA has also established a presence on LinkedIn (Silverbean, 2013). ASDA has been able to attract more than 2 million customers via several social media marketing campaigns.
ASDA has done a successful partnership with a number of YouTube vloggers (including Zoella, Hannah Maggs, Alfie Deyes, and Tanya) and Mum’s Eye View channel in the UK to engage and inspire viewers towards its brand. ASDA has also partnered with Gleam Future aiming to attract a new audience of customers. These YouTube vloggers have millions of dedicated followers. For example, only Mum’s Eye View has attracted more than 10 million viewers within one and half years. Using Facebook ASDA posts content to fans’ feeds has reached about 1.5 million fans. (Asda Social Media Partnership, 2018). Although ASDA is attracting millions of people towards its brand using several social media marketing techniques, it intends to increase its effectiveness to create more awareness among the target and potential customers.
1.2 Research rationale
Aldi and Lidl (successful discounters in the UK) and Tesco, Morison and Sainsbury’s are giving great challenges to ASDA. Thus, like-for-like sales ASDA fell by 5.8% in 2015 (ASDA Annual Report, 2016). This is because low price initiatives taken by Sainsbury’s and Waitrose and Tesco have significantly affected the brand image and revenue of ASDA. Thus, ASDA’s brand has also declined along with its sales revenue. A study by YouGov BrandIndex disclosed that ASDA’s ‘Index’ score declined by 2.8 points to 13.7 putting behind three primary rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Morrison. ASDA’s ‘Buzz’ ranking and ‘Value’ have also declined by 4.2 points and 4.7 points respectively (Vizard, 2016). Thus, reposition the brand among customer minds is now a big challenge for ASDA in a competitive marketplace. ASDA is now using several marketing channels to attract its target and potential customers, where social media marketing is mainly used to increase its brand awareness amongst the target customers (Stone, 2013).
However, ASDA is facing challenges in maintaining its brand reputation through its social media marketing. This is because severe competitive rivalry is severely beating brand image and awareness of SSDA in competitive marketplaces (Gooderham, 2017). Therefore, the key reason for this study is to critically analyze the impact of social media marketing on brand awareness from the perspective of the ASDA business. John (2017) stated that social media can be effectively used to increase brand awareness among the target and potential customers. Fitzpatrick (2015) said social media is now a highly traceable marketing channel for improving brand awareness.
However, Melissa and Kristina (2016) argued that marketers need to be strategic in using social media as a marketing tool because irrelevant marketing messages or negative comments through social media have a significant negative impact on brand image and brand awareness. As Rebecca (2014) notes, messages through social media marketing channels can spread out among millions of people within a minute affecting a brand significantly. For example, a negative comment for DiGiorno Pizza was the cause of 46,000 tweets within 24 hours that significantly affected the brand image and brand awareness (Burt, 2015). Hlavac (2016) said as a brand cannot be hidden behind the walls, customers always evaluate the brand with the competitors. Therefore, this study critically analyzes and evaluates the customer perceptions regarding social media as marketing tools and their impact on brand awareness.
1.3 Research Aims and Objectives
This study aims to critically analyze the effectiveness of social media as a marketing tool in increasing brand awareness among the target and potential customers in UK retail sector. Based on the finding, then, the study provides recommendations for ASDA so that it can improve its social media marketing activities to increase brand awareness………..