Customer loyalty is pursued by companies to keep up with the growing competition. The market presents the customers with many alternatives and is such challenging the loyalty of the customers in many ways. The goal with this paper is to find out how the loyalty of The Body Shop customers in Denmark can be strengthened through the use of social media. Loyalty is an attitudinal as well as a behavioral construct which is impacted by different factors. In this paper I focus on the attitudinal construct with the use of relationship marketing. The goal of relationship marketing is to retain customers in long-term relationships with the company through value creation. Customers engage with brands with the purpose of extracting value from the relationship that has a place of meaning in their lives. For the relationship to be valuable and long-term, I have identified trust and engagement as factors that are affecting the relationship. Trust forms the basis of the relationship. There is a need for the customer to engage with a credible and trustworthy partner. Emotional engagement is apparent when the customer identifies with the brand through shares values and is committed to the brand. With the inclusion of social media the paper discusses the development of web 2.0 and how the technologies have influenced consumer behavior, where consumers share knowledge in an even greater extent. Electronic word-of-mouth is presented to demonstrate how traditional word-of- mouth has expanded with the development of social media. With electronic word-of-mouth consumers have greater possibilities to communicate and share knowledge in a way that is much faster and more reachable than traditional word-of-mouth, which is why it can impact more people. The power of the electronic word-of-mouth lies in the information sharing between customers, where they are able to support each other and create more value from the use of the products. However for companies the electronic word-of-mouth presents a greater threat to the brand since negative comments may have a greater. In order to take advantage of the possibilities of the threats and advantages from the social media the company may listen to its customer’s needs and comments as well as create a dialogue that provides the customers with the opportunity to voice their opinions directly to the company or give feedbacks where the company in turn reacts on this by making changes. This exchange creates greater value for both parties in the relationship. Due to the great importance of the electronic word-of-mouth the company may also see advantages by energizing its customers to share positive word-of-mouth in social media. However this comes highly from loyal customers, which shows the importance of trust and engagement in the brand. Through a qualitative research I have tried to uncover which factors impact the loyalty and relationship with The Body Shop brand from interviews with five of the brand’s Danish female customers. From the data I found that the customers made a preference for the brand on the basis of results and satisfaction from products they consumed. The lack of more engagement in the brand was a result of poor knowledge of the brand values. The trust in the brand was high and was not easily affected. However, the respondents agreed on social media having an impact on their preferences and trust on both product and brand level. The respondents request information on the values, stories, guidance, inspiration and advice for product use and more engagement of the customers motivated by the The Body Shop. Nevertheless, some showed suspicion to information stemming from the brand itself compared to information from other users since brand information was often regarded as marketing and sales-based. I could therefore conclude that in order for The Body Shop to be able to strengthen the loyalty of their customers with the use of social media, the focus needs to be on creating value for the customer to strengthen the commitment to the brand. With social media The Body Shop has the possibility of listening to the needs and requests of their customers and respond to these to create greater value of the relationship. Through dialogue the brand has the opportunity to gain knowledge of what importance the brand has in the customers’ lives and which values the customers want to learn more about. Also by supporting and energizing its customers to share electronic word-of-mouth the brand can generate strength from information sharing between customers. The customers gain greater value from supporting and sharing knowledge between each other. By engaging its customers in sharing information The Body Shop has the possibility of engaging its customers in the brand and create valuable relationships for both parties.
|Educations||MA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis|
|Number of pages||101|