To what extent do social media influence consumers’ purchase- A Case of Morrisons
Table of contents
In this research study discussions regarding the extent up to which social media can impact consumers’ purchase will be carried out in a detailed manner. Morrisons, a famous name in the UK retail sector, will be considered as the organization under study with respect to the research topic. Special emphasis will be given on how the purchasing process of the consumers gets influenced by the possible use of various aspects of the social media.
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Social media has turned out to be an effective phenomenon during the recent times. Over the past few years proliferation of user-friendly technologies like various social media platforms, social networks, etc. has been observed. With the advent of these technologies, opportunities like global communities, publishing of user generated contents, consumer opinions, etc. have come into the picture. Such technologies dominate every activity these days and have resulted in the popularization of social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and so on (Lim et al., 2017). Social media has resulted in the creation of new ways of obtaining information about the products or services that the consumers are thinking of purchasing. Social media has provided the consumers with a platform where they can discuss about the brands and compare the viewpoints with one another (Schivinski and Dabrowski, 2016).
Morrisons or Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc has grabbed the fourth position in the list of the largest supermarket chains operating in UK. It has headquarters at Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. It was founded in the year 1899 by William Morrison. Presently the retailer is operating with 498 stores across Wales, Scotland and England. Morrisons is a public sector company and presently has employee strength of 132,000. The net income of this supermarket amounts to GB£305 million. The annual revenue of the retailer has reached to GB£16,317 million. Morrisons does business considering products like clothing, books, foods, drinks, magazines, etc. The retailer is already maintaining a prominent online presence which has helped its customers to have a better idea of the stocks maintained. The retailer basically uses social media for building better relationships with its customers. For better understanding the scope of this research, in what ways the use of social media has affected Morrisons’ consumer purchasing behavior will be evaluated.
The way people do shopping has changed over the past few decades. Previously consumers used to visit physical stores for buying the commodities. However, in the recent times with the assistance of communication technologies and information gathered with the help of the modern technologies the consumers have been able to full fill their needs and demands via various social websites. Now-a-days social media plays a significant role in the lives of the people (Hajli, 2014). Social media has proved to be quite effective in carrying out the operations with respect to different business sectors like advertising, marketing, retail, hospitality, etc. With the help of social media, businesses and the buyers have been able to interact directly with one another. Consumers are slowly getting acquainted with the proper utilization of the technologies of social media. According to the utilization rate of social media by the people it can be evaluated that social media has become an effective shopping tool for the consumers. In other words, it can be inferred that the process of implementing social media is an electronic process which has enabled the consumers directly communicate with the business people and fulfill their requirements (Srinivasan et al., 2016.). The influence of social media on the consumer purchasing intention can be observed from the phenomenon of consumers getting converted into potential buyers with the help of such electronic technology. The inclination of the consumers towards the use of social media is because of the fact that social media has allowed the consumers to share and promote their purchase experiences with others. With the help of this research it can be understood why the consumers are inclining towards social media for purchasing, which group of consumers are more inclined towards social media and which group still emphasis on visiting physical stores for purchasing goods (Kumar et al., 2016).
The aim of this research study is to focus on the extent up to which social media has influenced consumers’ purchase intention in the present-day scenario.
1.3 Research Objectives
The research objectives that are to be achieved through this research study are,
- To conduct a detailed research on the purchasing behavior of the consumers with respect to retail sector.
- To evaluate the effect of various aspects of social media on the purchasing intention of the consumers.
- To investigate the influence of social media on consumer purchase by considering the scenario of retailers like Morrisons.
- To analyze how the influence of social media on consumers’ purchase is to be implemented by retailers like Morrisons for enhancing their business profitability and development.
- What are the perceptions perceived by the consumers while purchasing commodities with respect to the retail sector?
- In what ways retailers like Morrisons is implementing social media for influencing the purchasing intentions of the consumers?
- What is the extent of impact of social media on the consumers’ purchase in the present times?
- How the influence of social media on consumers’ can be utilized by the retailers like Morrisons for enhancing their business?
Recent researches carried out in the various business sectors have pointed towards the fact that social media is revolutionizing the overall aspect of conducting business. It is not only impacting the operations carried out by the businesses but is also creating a certain impact on the purchasing behavior of the customers. These days life without social media is a fact completely out of the scenario. Analysis of sectors like retail, hospitality, telecommunications, etc. has provided evidence that social media to a great extent has modified the operational scenario for their businesses (Cheung et al., 2014). Consumers have received a reliable platform via social media which they are implementing in collecting and sharing information about different aspects. As social media has become an important aspect of conducting businesses therefore it is necessary to understand the extent of influence that has been created by social media on the consumers who are most important stakeholders of the business sectors. On the basis of this understanding business players will be able to determine effective strategies of using social media for improving their business processes. The main objective of the retail sector is to maintain an effective relationship with the consumers (Pookulangara et al., 2018). This study is necessary to evaluate the impact of advancing technologies on the purchasing perspectives of the consumers as social media is now considered to be a crucial aspect of conducting businesses.
This chapter provides a proper introduction of the research topic that has been considered in this scenario. The background with respect to the research content has been elaborated in a derailed manner. The chapter also provides an explanation about the rationale of the proposed research work. This reflects about the scope that will be provided by the carrying out of this research work. This chapter also discusses about the aim, objectives and questions that will be given importance by this research study. The research rationale provided in this section is supported by the research objectives formulated by the researcher. From this chapter a brief idea about the subject on which the proposed research work is going to be carried out can be obtained in ann effective manner.
Consumers’ purchasing intentions are considered as an important fact as it helps the companies in increasing their sale of those products or services that can result in maximizing the profits for the companies. Purchasing intentions assist in denoting the impressions associated with customer retention. There are certain factors that affect the purchasing intentions of the consumers. It is important to understand these factors as it will help the businesses in improving their services and products (Kizgin et al., 2018). Purchasing intentions are directly related with the patterns of buying behaviors. Proper understanding of the consumers’ purchasing intentions assists the businesses in forecasting the sales of any existing or new products or services. With respect to the retail sector the analysis of this particular aspect makes it becomes possible for the managers to decide upon their marketing strategies, promotional strategies and other aspects like market segmentation (Voramontri and Klieb, 2018). Purchasing intention of the consumers is the main driving factor that compels the consumers to go for a particular product or service. Various models exist which can be used for understanding purchasing intention. The five-stage decision making model is appropriate in understanding the purchasing intention associated with buying behavior of the consumers (Solomon et al., 2014).
The first stage of the model is the recognition of the need for the purchases. The consumer at this stage realizes the difference between their current and desired state. From this realization the consumers recognize the reason behind the need for the purchasing of the commodity. After understanding their needs, the consumers enter the second stage that is the information collection stage (Ioanăs and Stoica, 2014). Often it happens that internal knowledge possessed by the consumers is not enough to match their intention. Therefore, they consider carrying out external search regarding the products or services the consumers are deciding to purchase. The search goes on until relevant and reliable information are obtained which coincides with the purchase intention of the consumers (Balakrishnan et al., 2014). This is the stage where social media mostly comes into the picture. Social media helps in adding new elements to the search processes considered by the consumers. When enough information gets collected then the consumers tally the data with their purchasing intentions. Alternatives are evaluated and the best among all the available options are selected by the consumers (Dessart et al2015). This particular stage leads to the next stage of making the purchase decision. Purchase decision reflects the final choice made by the consumers. At this stage the decision taken matches the various aspects of the consumers’ purchasing intentions. After carrying out the purchasing process next comes the post purchase evaluation. At this stage the consumers evaluate whether the purchased products or services have tallied with their intentions for purchasing. On the basis of the evaluation they decide whether they are going to buy that same product or service again in the future or not (Zhang and Benyoucef, 2016).
In the context of the present days the consumers play an important role within the marketplace. They are the main players who are involved with the purchase and consumption of the services or products either offline or online. Demographic variables have been recognized as the influencer that impacts the purchases of the consumers (Stephen, 2016). From previous researches it has been identified that the consumers who are greatly influenced by social media are segmented into two groups, namely online insiders and social clickers.
Online insiders are mostly active users of internet and are highly influenced by social media for conducting buying and selling of commodities (Ngai et al., 2015). The purchase intentions and choices of the consumers are considerable affected by online brands. In fact, information from other consumers can also prove to be effective in modifying the purchasing intentions. Consumers are greatly relying on social media as they are able to collate more amount of information from the social media platforms than any other existing sources. Online insiders mainly include people who are better educated, computer literate, wealthier, younger and are likely to spend more time surfing internet (Dijkmans et al., 2015).
Social clickers have the tendency of visiting social websites on a daily basis for purposes like sharing information, conducting researches, communicating with others, etc. This particular group of consumers is heavy social media users. They are mostly young and mot that much affluent (Bianchi and Andrews, 2018). They may not have any purchasing intention but there is possibility that they become influential consumers in the future.
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The most important aspect behind the utility of the visiting websites is to assist the consumers in communicating with others for accomplishing their purposes like fulfilling their purchasing intentions. Interactions with other communities or purchasers can impact the buying behavior of the consumers (Hassan, 2018). Certain factors have been recognized which are considered to be associated with the influence on consumers’ purchase created by social media. The factors are,
Psychological factors: Psychological factors affect the attitude of the consumers with respect to online purchasing. Like when a consumer builds his or her trust on a social website then he or she will be willing to visit and use that website repeatedly (Sanni et al., 2018).
Design factors: The designing characteristic of a particular web page often affects the consumers. Properly designed and updated websites attract consumers who are inclined towards utilizing social websites for making online purchases (Lim et al., 2017). The design factors are further impacted by the detailed contents of the web pages.
Information factors: Presence of enough information about a variety of services and products impacts the consumers to become more interested in carrying out online purchases (Schivinski and Dabrowski, 2016). Warranties, guarantees and offers along with products bearing detailed information motivate consumers to go for online purchasing.
Cultural factors: Different cultures affect to an extent the decision-making process of the consumers regarding the purchase of particular products or services. Cultural factors also play an important role in influencing the lifestyle of the consumers (Srinivasan et al., 2016). It does impact the communication and interaction of the consumers with new and advanced technologies.
The most widely used social media platforms by the consumers for various purposes are Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. From previously conducted researches it has been observed that approximately 11 million consumers make use of nearly 70% of the social media websites for collecting reliable information about the products or services, for purchasing the products or services and to share experiences with other communities (Kumar et al., 2016). Facebook is said to have more than 6 million users who register themselves to make online purchases and share respective experiences. From the studies it has been identified that 64% users of Twitter prefer purchasing various products from the online shopping centers. Research studies have also shown that 79% of the users of Twitter feel it more reliable to share recommendations with family members and peers on platforms of social media (Voramontri and Klieb, 2018). Instagram is also an emerging social media platform that is being recognized by the consumers for carrying out online purchases by considering the choices that are advertised on these platforms.
It is necessary to select a suitable methodology for conducting a particular research work in an effective manner. In this chapter the methodological aspects needed for this research work will be discussed thoroughly. Points like research philosophy, approach, design, data collection technique, etc. will be focused upon. Explanation of each of these points will be accompanied by proper justification.
A proper research philosophy assists in giving a proper direction to the research process. Generally, three types of research philosophies are consulted for conducting a research study. The research philosophies are realistic, positivist and interpretive (Mackey and Gass, 2015). For this research work positivist research philosophy will be considered. This type of research philosophy will help the researcher in meeting the objectives of the study. Relevant scientific approaches are taken under consideration for fulfilling the aspect of this philosophical approach. With the help of this philosophy an objective outlook of the project variables can be obtained by the researcher.
Research approach is meant to provide a suitable direction to a proposed research. Basically, to types of research approaches are taken up by research studies, deductive and inductive. In this research deductive research approach will be taken into account. This approach will help the researcher in determining the relevant theories that can be applied to this work (Silverman, 2016). Also, this approach will assist the researcher in conducting the work in a smooth and reliable manner. Deductive research approach will help in determining reliable information that can be implemented for fulfilling of the project objectives (Flick, 2015). The approach will provide a better understanding of the theories that will shed light on the influences created by social media on consumers’ purchase.
The research designs that are implemented by researches are categorized as explanatory, descriptive and exploratory. The descriptive research design has been considered for this research study. In this work both quantitative as well as qualitative research assessments will be carried out by the researcher (Panneerselvam, 2014). The specific design will result in the thorough evaluation of the responses obtained from the respondents of the research. From the evaluation of the real-time data appropriate and reliable research outcomes can be obtained. The descriptive research design is considerable time saving in comparison to the other two designs.
The research work will undertake primary research method that will carry out assessment of both quantitative data as well as qualitative data. The data will be evaluated in accordance with the content of the research work (Mackey and Gass, 2015).
For the collection of the quantitative research data survey method will be implemented by the researcher. For the survey the valuable customers of Morrisons will be selected. Offline survey will be conducted with the help of questionnaires containing 10 close ended questions. For obtaining the qualitative research data interview will be carried out. The interview is to be conducted by the researcher by considering the hierarchy of the organization of interest as the selected interviewees.
Survey and interview will provide real-time data that can be utilized to reflect about the extent of impact of social media on the purchasing behaviors and intentions of the consumers (Panneerselvam, 2014).
After the collection of qualitative and quantitative it is essential to carry out their appropriate analysis. In order to analyze the quantitative data methods or tools like statistical method considering mean, median and mode, SPSS tool or data triangulation method are generally used by the researchers (Silverman, 2016). For this research SPSS tool will be considered for the analysis of the quantitative data. The qualitative data will be tallied with literary review constructed by the researcher for better evaluation of the research outcomes.
It is important to consider suitable sample size in order to ensure the validity and reliability of the research quotient associated with the proposed work (Mackey and Gass, 2015). For this research study 50 valuable customers of Morrisons will be chosen for the conduction of the survey. For the collection of the qualitative research data three managers of the important operating departments of the organization of interest will be taken into account for the carrying out of the interview process by the researcher.
With respect to this particular research work the researcher will be considering probability sampling technique.
Every research work has to follow some norms and ethics which are necessary for supervising the research activities. This proposed research work is going to involve participation of direct samples in order to carry out the primary research for the sake of the attainment of the research questions. Therefore, consent from the participants has to be considered before recording their responses. The samples for the qualitative and quantitative research can be collected after the attainment of the permission of the organization under study (Flick, 2015). The identities of the consumers as well as the organizational members who will be considered for the survey and the interview have to be kept confidential. A permission letter or consent letter will be formulated by the researcher and will be submitted to the organization of interest in order to obtain permission for conducting the research. With respect to this research work Data Protection act 1998 will be maintained for safeguarding the information obtained from the select sample population of this research work (Panneerselvam, 2014). The researcher will provide assurance that the information collected during the research process will be solely used for the study purpose.
Selecting the research topic
Researching on various relevant for reviewing existing literature on the topic
Carrying out the research methods
Analyzing the obtained research data
Assessment of the research findings
Developing conclusion and recommendation
Submitting the final research work
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