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Does social media have an impact on consumer-brand relationships? An investigation into trust, commitment, brand personality and the engagement in social media

David Nichols, BSc

This work is the result of my research carried out during the period July 2010 to December 2010 tutored by Ed Little at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Where reference has been made to the work of others, this is given full acknowledgement in the text. The dissertation is submitted in part fulfilment of the degree

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of Masters of Science in Marketing Communications at the University of the West of England, Bristol in 2010.

The dissertation may be made freely available immediately for academic purposes

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Abstract Components of consumer-brand relationships such as trust, commitment and brand personality have been extensively researched within previous literature. However this research has not encompassed the impact that social media platforms like facebook and twitter have on those relationships. There are no existing models that fit into this research. This research aimed to identify the relationships between the engagement in social media with trust, commitment and brand personality. Results showed significant positive correlations between several variables illustrating that social media does have an impact into the way consumers interact with brands, how they trust and remain committed to them and maintain their relationships with them. Questionnaires and in-depth interviews were used as a means of gathering data.

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4 Chapters 1. Introduction 2. Literature Review 3. Methodology 4. Results 5. Discussion 6. References 7. Appendices

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5 Chapter 1 Introduction Relationship marketing and the rising social media are two areas of research within the marketing industry that have previously been investigated separately. There has been extensive theorising of relationship marketing in the years prior to this current research, with testing of models and marketing practitioners utilising the many tools suggested by relationship marketing. Relationship marketing aims to build lasting relational interactions between an organisation and its consumer. It has been suggested that organisations must go further than to simply satisfy the customer on the grounds of price, speed of delivery of service and customer service. Morgan (1996) explained the difference between marketing and relationship marketing. Marketing is the efforts to acquire new customers, while relationship marketing is retaining your customers. Market research must play a key role in the marketing mix with regards to relationship marketing because organisations need to recognise who their customers are and learn more about them. Therefore database management is crucial. For example Tesco, a UK supermarket launched a loyalty programme which enabled Tesco to not only reward its customers for their custom, but to gain invaluable data to gain an insight into each customer. One could argue that a customer is satisfied after purchasing an excellent product, combined with excellent service and value for money. Arguments have been made that repeat purchases lead to brand loyalty. Yet in the now competitive market where consumers are empowered to make executive decisions with their purchases, this is arguably becoming more an over reaching statement. Organisations are being required to do more to offer their customers more value, in other words more reason to remain a customer rather than deferring to a competitor. This further value could be given by creating a dialogue between organisation and customer; creating a relationship that would prove difficult for the consumer to stray. Social media could fulfil this role, with its interactive, intimate approach to building brand relationships. The growth of the use of social media to interact with peers quickly developed in the mid 2000’s, but increasingly, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are being utilised by organisations to create dialogue and ultimately on-going relationships with customers and all stakeholders.

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6 Social media has largely impacts several areas of marketing research. Word of mouth communications (WOM) have been researched extensively for many years, and with the growing use of the internet, the context of WOM is changing. Online communities are gathering to discuss, review and offer opinions of offerings from organisations. It is not surprising that a large amount of research has focused on electronic word of mouth (eWOM). It is clear that there are vast and arguably different accounts of the reasons for engaging in WOM. Sandraram, Mitra and Webster (1998) concluded that there are eight primary reasons for WOM. These range from being involved in the product, seeking advice and being an opinion leader. The influence of opinion formers is augmented within recent literature. Opinion formers are those which express their influential opinion throughout potential masses of listeners. According to Hughes (2009), opinion formers typically keep readers updated with a personal blog, with the ability to ‘produce high levels of positive (or negative) word of mouth’. This power is linked with the widely accepted notion that consumers trust their peers more than marketers. Trust, noted here is a much discussed and researched topic as ‘research from the Future Foundation tells us that the percentage of consumer citizens in the UK agreeing that 'most companies are fair' fell from around 60% in 1980 to 35% by 2001’ (Murphy, 2003). The influence of WOM in consumer behaviour has been greatly investigated and many have found that constituents of forums and review websites are influenced in their purchase decisions by fellow constituents (Bickart & Shindler, 2001, HennigThurau et al. 2004). The suggested reason behind this is that consumers generally trust peer consumers more than they trust marketers (Lee & Youn, 2009; Sen & Leman, 2007). Lee & Youn articulate that ‘WOM is typically independent of marketers’ selling intents and is thus considered to be more trustworthy and credible’. This is a general agreement amongst academics that peer reviews of products or services have an arguable weight to them (Bone, 1995; Bickart & Shindler, 2001; Lau & Ng, 2001). They are questionably more independent than the marketers’ contribution as consumers do not have an ulterior motive to sharing information. This is becoming the case more as eWOM becomes more prominent and more people can easily engage in dialogue to share their views on brands and organisations. WOM often expands to brand communities. A brand community consists of individuals that are enthusiastic and passionate about a brand to the point where they share their experiences and engage in dialogue with other similar members. 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

7 Preece (2001) discussed the varying relationships between members of brand communities and their differences. Strong ties in relationships ‘satisfy important needs and produce closely knit groups’. Relationships with weak ties on the other hand focuses often on ‘information exchange’ (Preece, 2001). Early research delved into consumer online communities, examining the role of brand communities in forming opinions, purchasing and consuming products or services. However, research currently is looking more into the close relationship that brand communities have with businesses i.e. the relationship between the consumer and the organisation. There appears to be a slow growing interest in research surrounding the importance of online communities to both individuals and companies (Kim et al, 2007). Kim et al note that ‘online communities accumulate member-generated content on various products offered by the company as well as competitor companies that sell similar products’. Most academics concur that a ‘customer can achieve social need satisfaction’ through building and maintaining relationships with fellow constituents and the brand; however it is not just the customers that can benefit (Stokburger-Sauer, 2010). The brand benefits in that it gains customer loyalty and advocacy of those customers. While this has been supported by many, there have not been many companies who have succeeded in turning their customers into brand advocates or ‘champions’ (Stokburger-Sauer, 2010). New media has not been researched sufficiently in the context of brand communities. This is understandable as new media is already becoming dated. Facebook for example is just one of the many platforms where users can ‘join’ a group, show their support and discuss this in a public forum. Brands are now appearing rapidly on social media platforms such as Facebook, attracting many ‘fans’ to find out new information and engage in dialogue between other members of the group and the organisation itself. It is arguably an informal situation where consumers can put forward their suggestions, share content with others and most importantly, a situation where consumers can publically share their negative experience in order for the brand to listen and take action. It has been widely accepted that consumers are more ‘active and knowledgeable’ (Lawer and Knox, 2006). Many have also commented on the growing concern about the ‘rate of increase in choice, uncertainty, confusion and complexity within markets’ (Mitchell and Papavassiliou, 1999; Mitchell, 2001; Willmott and Nelson, 2003). Pitt et al (2002) note that while online communities 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

8 and individual consumers may not be able to match the scope of advertising that organisations use, they are able to attract the same amount of attention very quickly. Consumers have access to ‘accurate, recent and unbiased information’, which could be seen as more effective than marketing campaigns (Pitt et al, 2002). The consequence of this, according to the research is that companies are increasingly attempting to engage and involve their customers, in order to build relationships. A strong consumer-organisation relationship will allow the organisation to improve customer service and eliminate problems, and ‘sense and respond to new opportunities with customers and partners’ (Lawer and Knox, 2006). Once a company understands their customers’ needs and requirements, ‘brand management can help partners to increase the context and relevance of their products to individual customers’. However, there is limited support on this notion and it is questionable as to whether building relationships with customer will result in brand advocacy. A further comment to make is based on the focus on customer transparency and trust made by Lawer and Knox (2006). Increasingly, many consumers now seek more value from a company, rather than merely satisfaction derived from a product or service. Customers are now becoming ‘co-creators of value’ (Lawer and Knox, 2006). Companies are promoting their corporate social responsibility programmes and values on social media, to demonstrate the value their customers receive.

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9 Chapter 2 Literature Review The way that consumers interact with their brands has long been of notable interest within the marketing industry and subsequently in research. Authors have investigated the how, why and what in brand-consumer relationship formation and sustainment. Theories, specifically relationship theory have been formed to create general laws of the nature of consumer-brand relationships. Relationship theory remains significant within past and present literature. The basic premises of the theory have not changed. However with the emergence of new technologies, relationship theory is developing and its utility is changing. Technology has opened new channels of communication which relationship marketing is quickly embracing. There are several factors that must be valued within relationship marketing. Morgan and Hunt (1994) identified the commitment-trust theory of relationship marketing to be a key role in conducting research into the field. Social media use has transformed the way in which consumers and brands interact with one another. This is likely to alter how consumers trust and remain committed to their chosen brands and will change the relationship indefinitely. It is also arguable that social media gives brands the opportunity to voice its’ perceived personality. The following review of literature will analyse existing research into relationship marketing including theories of trust, commitment, brand personality and the motivations towards forming a consumer-brand relationship. Motivation in brand relationships There has been a body of research into the motivations of maintaining human relationships that has transferred into research into the motivations of brand relationships. It is important to take into account the motivations behind relationship formation before deliberating the maintenance of a relationship. Theorising ‘that successful relationship marketing requires relationship commitment and trust’, Fournier (1998) wrote the seminal paper calling for further investigation into the motives behind consumers ‘seek and value ongoing relationships’. There has since been valuable contribution to this call. Eisingerich & Rubera (2010) discuss ‘self-brand connections’ which have been acknowledge by many others within the literature (Chaplin & John, 2005). Eisingerich & Rubera describe the process of self-brand connections as an

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10 ‘individual’s comparison of their own defining characteristics’. Values and preferences that individuals hold will transfer onto that of a brand. Consumers who characterise themselves as being ‘traditional’ are unlikely to become involved in innovative products. This notion would appear logical, as brand managers are recognising more the value of creating a personality closely related to the ‘self’ of the target consumer. Fournier (1998) also noted that at the time of writing, the literature had been based mostly on psychological theories of love, commitment and trust within human relationships and that research had not moved onto ‘consumer-brand interactions’. An influential concept founded by Fournier discussed equality between relationship partners. When there are two parties within a relationship, both must be acknowledged as equal. Fournier is pointing towards a partnership; consumers and brands are becoming partners within their relationships. Traditionally brands have been the dominant party within the relationship, but this is fast changing. Fournier cites support from Hinde (1979) noting that ‘partners must collectively affect, define and redefine the relationship’. ‘Anthropomorphizing inanimate objects’ can be described as attributing human behaviours to an inanimate object. Often, human characteristics are attributed to brands. Brands are seen to have a personality, created by the individuals who engage with it. Organisations make attempts to instil a personality into a brand based on its’ target audience, but ultimately it is the audience who shape the personality (Biel 2000). This is coupled with the above discussion of the ‘self’. Brands therefore serve many purposes to those who engage in it. The explanations for the ‘tendency to anthropomorphize’ are discussed in Biel’s (2000) research. Psychological reasons include filling a void in one’s social life by creating a relationship between them and a brand. Tying in the use of social media, one could posit that ‘conversations’ on social media platforms add to the anthropomorphizing of a brand. Such research that encompasses anthropomorphosis and social media is scarce. It could be argued that it is now integral in brand relationships. The use of social media in branding and relationship marketing demonstrates that organisations are no longer merely ‘selling’ a product or service. Their desire goes beyond this premise, to permanently engage their target audience to build and sustain relationships. Customers who have a relationship with a brand are less likely to defer to a competitor. For the same reason, this will consequently result in less price

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11 sensitive customers and more customers willing to engage in word of mouth communications, as discussed earlier. Brand communities were discussed briefly earlier; the tendency to be part of a community is well researched within psychological literature. This tendency translates well into brand communities. Brand advocates and those that engage in word of mouth communications are likely to congregate to discuss and review their chosen brands. Previous research has mostly described a brand community of a cluster of homogenous individuals whom have the likeness of a brand in common (McAlexander et al, 2002). This view may be a narrow minded view on the other hand, as it does not recognise the uniqueness of an individual, as suggested by Ouwersloot & Odekerken-Shroder (2008). There does not appear to be a general consensus as to the motivations consumers have in being part of a brand community. While notable contributions have been made (Ouwersloot & Odekerken-Shroder, 2008), there is a lack of investigation into the impact that social media has on brand communities. Brand communities could rapidly evolve due to social media. Social media can frighteningly quickly gather a vast number of individuals who can range from remotely interested in a brand, to brand advocates. What this research intends to investigate is how the engagement in social media impacts on brand personality, trust, commitment and ultimately consumer-brand relationships. Models of relationship marketing With varying styles of research come numerous models of testing notions such as trust and commitment towards brands. Key models will be briefly described here and compared and contrasted to retrieve the most appropriate

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12 model for use in this current research. Morgan and Hunt (1994) claim that ‘relationship commitment and trust are key constructs’, and use the use key

mediating variable (KMV) model to test their hypotheses. The KMV model is displayed in figure 1.1: The model illustrates several hypotheses. Firstly, when relationship termination costs are high, this leads to relationship commitment. This in turn reduces the propensity to leave, and increases acquiescence and cooperation. Also of notable interest is that when communication is at its’ best, levels of trust improve which decreases feelings of uncertainty and again cooperation. This model suggests that trust leads to relationship commitment, rather than working together. In an adapted model discussed later in this research, trust and commitment work simultaneously towards a brand relationship. Fournier’s (1998) working model of brand relationship quality was conceived subsequent to Morgan and Hunt’s (1994) KMV model. This model begins by demonstrating that brand behaviours and consumer behaviours are interlinked and affect brand relationship quality. Fournier (1998) identifies six poles of brand relationship quality: love/passion, self-connection, commitment, interdependence, intimacy and brand partner quality. According to this model, each of these poles consequently lead to accommodation, tolerance/forgiveness,

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13 biased partner perceptions, devaluation of alternatives and attribution biases. All of these should directly and indirectly lead to relationship stability, according to the model. The BRQ components to the model are consistent with those found with a human to human relationship. Fournier’s (1998) working model suggests that consumers build and maintain relationships with brands much like they would do with another person. In other words, there must be certain benchmarks fulfilled before a relationship can be made stable and durable. The BRQ components are feelings towards a brand, which lead to actions. The outcomes in this instance (accommodation, tolerance, biased partner perceptions, devaluation of alternatives, attribution biases) are actions that a consumer takes once levels of brand relationship quality are of a certain depth. So if a consumer feels love, commitment and intimacy with a brand for example, they are more likely to accommodate and forgive grievances by a brand and perceive others to be incomparable. Compared to Morgan and Hunt’s (1994) KMV model, Fournier’s (1998) working model has the advantage of demonstrating the flow of relationship building and maintenance. It clearly states what feelings must be achieved in a hierarchal fashion in order to move forward to act on those feelings. In other words: feelings lead to action. Once an organisation has motivated the consumer to hold onto those feelings and act on them, they are able to manage that relationship. However, what this working model does not outline, which Morgan and Hunt’s (1994) KMV model does is negative factors involved in brand relationships. The drivers to consumers deviating to a competitor are not discussed. What is not included is the scenario of a relationship fulfilling the BRQ components, but not going further to action. It would be injudicious to make the assumption that once the BRQ components are fulfilled, a consumer will act upon all outcomes. The relationship investment model (Sung & Campbell, 2009; Breivik & Thorbjorsen, 2008) is one that is ‘based on theories on close relationships found in social psychology’ (Breivik & Thorbjorsen, 2008). The relationship investment model is often employed in brand relationship research and is a derivative to interdependency theory coined by Kelley and Thibaut (1978). Independence theory puts forward that positive outcomes directly impacts on levels of dependence to a brand/product. This can be demonstrated in a satisfied customer. Satisfied customers are more likely to repeat buy and this will impact on how dependent that customer is to a brand or product. Satisfaction levels will increase if positive perceptions of the relationship partner outweigh the negative 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

14 perceptions of the relationship partner and the perception of the alternatives. The relationship investment model is an extension to independency theory as it creates a further dimension of dependence: relationship investment, with ‘commitment as a mediating construct’. Sung and Campbell (2009) state that ‘commitment is a central relationship-specific motive’. Eisingerich & Rubera (2010) discuss exchange theory in relation to drivers of brand commitment. Exchange theory is directly associated with the relationship investment model as it argues that ‘people are more likely to reciprocate when an exchange partner is perceived as having made equivalent contributions to the relationship’ (Eisingerich & Rubera, 2010). The model has four determinants of relationship permanence; first and foremost being commitment. Commitment, according to Breivik & Thorbjorsen (2008) is the ‘intent to persist in a relationship, including long term orientation toward the relationship, and feelings of psychological attachment’. This is in line with other authors about commitment as a construct. There is a consensus amongst the literature that commitment is a state where an individual is dependent on a relationship, and therefore continues to nurture, grow feelings and become attached to it (Sung & Campbell, 2009; Breivik & Thorbjorsen, 2008). Commitment in a social psychological context and a brand relationship context will be discussed further later. The latter three are satisfaction, quality of alternatives and investment size. Support for the investment model stems from both Sung & Campbell, 2009; Breivik & Thorbjorsen, 2008). The investment model would be worth pursuing in terms of methodology for this current research. However it will need to be adapted to enable social media to fit in with the different premises. The predictors of commitment (satisfaction, alternatives and investment) as stated in Sung and Campbell (2009) have not been empirically researched in a ‘single framework’, therefore empirical research which encompasses social media in parallel are also likely to be scarce. For this reason, this research aims to identify the relationships between the engagement in social media and trust, commitment, brand personality and brand relationships. Commitment Commitment is a notion well discussed within marketing and social psychology literature. It is thought to be one of the foundations of relationship building and maintenance (Berry and Parasuraman (1991). There are thought to 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

15 be varying determinants of levels of commitment, and whether these precursors initiate positive or negative outcomes. Positive outcomes are generally thought of in relationship marketing as brand relationship building and maintenance. Sung & Campbell (2009) posit that ‘strong commitment to a relationship is reliably associated with voluntary continuance in the relationship’. This is to a very large extent accurate and will almost certainly become a more prominent feature in future research and literature for many reasons. For example, the term voluntary is exceedingly relevant within relationship marketing. With more ways of seeking out reviews and information about brands and products, and with the increasing use of word of mouth communications within social media, it is very difficult for organisations to build and maintain relationships with their customers. Their customers are empowered more than they were even ten years ago, meaning that customers are more likely to seek out competitors with ease. This may impact on levels of commitment within a brand. However, it could be hypothesised that once a customer is committed to a brand, the relationship may be stronger as a brand might have behaved exceptionally compared to an alternative. As the investment model suggested earlier, commitment will more likely increase if positive experiences of a brand outweigh that of the alternatives. With regards to the investment model discussed earlier, Sung and Campbell (2009) argue that the ‘predictors of commitment’ within the investment model have not been researched extensively. Sung and Campbell investigated brand relationships using the investment model and found that their hypotheses were supported; ‘satisfaction, investments and alternatives each predicted variance in commitment’. Sung and Campbell (2009) found that customers have individual relationships with individual brands. This is not surprising, as there are many offerings from many different brands. People acquire different interests and many brands are able to meet those interests. What Sung and Campbell (2009) also recognise is the influence of parents and the social environment that surrounds a young person. It will be interesting to identify the different relationships young people have with consumers and the role that social media has on those relationships. Another note to add here are the demographics surrounding the use of social media. Commitment is also theorised as being part of a larger model to which it is the outcome of other factors. Louis & Lombart (2010) conceptualised their

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16 hypotheses into a framework; where trust in a brand impacts on attachment, which indirectly influences on commitment to the brand. Different scenarios are integrated into the framework, so it demonstrates that trust in a brand can lead to commitment without directly influencing attachment. Sung and Campbell (2009) found that the three variables they hypothesised were significant in predicting levels of commitment; they concluded that ‘greater satisfaction and investment size, and poorer alternatives resulted in higher levels of commitment to the brand’. The authors also note here that there may be several reasons for a consumer remaining committed to a particular brand. A consumer may be unaware of alternatives, or find no alternative worthy of switching for. Combine this with satisfaction; it is fair to assume the consumer will continue to purchase the product. What this current research will aim to investigate is the impact that social media has. The investigation will seek to determine what relevance social media has with regards to brand relationships. Social media could directly impact on trust, indirectly impacting commitment by its conversational and engaging nature. Carrying on with the discussion regarding commitment being a part of a larger unit, Morgan and Hunt (1994), among others put forward that trust influences relationship commitment. Relationships that are based on foundations of trust are ‘so highly valued that parties will desire to commit themselves to such relationships’ (Morgan & Hunt, 1994; Hrebiniak, 1974). Authors tend to concur that ‘trust is a major determinant of relationship commitment’ (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Trust as a key variable impacting relationship commitment will be discussed in more detail later. Within some research, commitment is described as having two types: affective commitment and continuance commitment. Affective commitment is the type of commitment that brands currently strive for in their consumer-brand relationship. Terms like shared values and trust are used to describe this component of commitment. Continuance commitment describes a consumer’s commitment to a brand when there appears to be no other alternative available. It would seem logical that brand managers would strive for affective commitment because it is based on something positive. When commitment between a consumer and a brand is positive, rewards such as brand advocacy and word of mouth communications are likely to result. Support is given to this

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17 concept by many (Fullerton, 2003, Gilliland & Bello, 2002; Anderson & Weitz, 1992). From looking at the literature, commitment towards a brand has and will likely always be voluntary. Consumers have the right and the power to decide which brands they want to remain committed to and for how long. Social media is unlikely to change this, but what social media does allow for is the ability to form and sustain relationships on a personal level. This is very much untypical of previous relationships. Trust has been placed of high importance with regards to commitment. There appears to be a general consensus that trust is a precursor of commitment, something which will be tested within this research. The role that trust plays will be discussed in more depth now. Trust Trust in relationship marketing and brand personality can be described and discussed simultaneously with trust in human relationships. The basic premises of trust remain the same within a human relationship and that of a relationship with a particular brand. There appears to be an agreement to the concept of trust within the literature. Morgan and Hunt (1994) for example define trust ‘as a willingness to rely on an exchange partner in whom one has confidence’. Amongst the literature, there seem to be a vast amount of traits associated with trust. Louis & Lombart (2010) summarise studies that have investigated those traits. Morgan and Hunt (1994) use terms such as reliance, integrity, confidence. It is interesting that independence was a trait discussed in this research, as it is heavily related to social media. It is evident that the reason why social media platforms are polluted with consumer opinion and review and why these are popular with peer consumers is because they are independent reviews and opinions. Cynicism has appeared in literature and articles rapidly over the last few years, and ties in with word of mouth communications discussed earlier. Consumers trust their peers more than they do marketers; therefore trust is a construct of much needed research. While commitment has already been discussed earlier, it is worthwhile noting that trust influences relationship commitment. There have been a number of authors supporting the importance of trust within the ‘relational exchange’ (Morgan and Hunt, 1994; Louis, D. & Lombart, C. 2010; Sung, Y. & Kim, J. 2010). 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

18 Spekman (1988) went further by positing it to be ‘the cornerstone of the strategic partnership’. Trust has been deemed as a crucially important factor because trust directly influences levels of commitment (Hrebiniak, 1974). Higher levels of trust lead to higher levels of commitment or at the very least, basic levels of commitment. Commitment to a brand, product or service is something widely discussed by practitioners as markets become much more saturated, therefore trust and commitment are seen to be harder to accomplish. Morgan and Hunt (1994) hypothesised that ‘cooperation arises directly from both relationship commitment and trust’. It is clear when reviewing the literature, trust and commitment can be discussed separately, but are always intertwined as one directly or indirectly impacts on the other. It is this author’s suggestion, with support of others that they be treated as a theory together, rather than apart. Morgan and Hunt (1994) found significant support backing their hypothesis mentioned here; from their own analysis and other findings (Deutsch, 1960; Pruitt, 1981). An interesting discussion on ‘covert marketing’ has emerged recently by Ashley & Leonard (2009). Covert marketing is the practise of marketing communication while concealing the ‘commercial nature of its source’ (Ashley & Leonard, 2009). The majority of the literature debating commitment and trust towards a brand has mostly discussed the positive consequences that result from commitment and trust. These positive consequences have been discussed above in detail, but include increased levels of brand advocacy, repeat purchase, and word of mouth communications and so on. However Ashley & Leonard (2009) have conducted some research into the possible negatives that may arise from emotional attachment to a brand. It is claimed that the attachment and subsequent relationship that companies currently strive for with their customers could be detrimental to them, should something go wrong. Aaker, Fournier and Brasel (2004) claim that when a consumer has a ‘high quality relationship with some brands, the brand is less able to recover from brand transgressions’. It is easy to see the link between this potentially fatal scenario with the impact of social media. Social media platforms have a vast reach. If a crisis occurs, severe damage could be done to the high quality relationships brands have come to enjoy. Betrayal is likely to ensue with these types of consumers and recovery could be challenging (Ashley & Leonard, 2009). This would appear to support Fournier (1998) in her claim that brand relationships are similar to human relationships. When trust and commitment levels are high, the rewards are 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

19 higher. However this ultimately results in potential crises being more damaging to consumer-brand relationships and the reputation of the brand hampered. The following example can be used to demonstrate this scenario. Earlier this year, Apple Inc came under fire shortly after releasing its latest addition to the iPhone family in July. Apple recognises that it has a vast and devoted following for its innovative products. Brand advocates and consumers emotionally attached to Apple were quick to purchase the new product, regardless of its expense (Apple Press Release, July 2010). This demonstrates that brand advocates are less price sensitive than those consumers not as involved with a brand. When there was a defect with the product, those consumers who advocate the brand quickly went to social media platforms to express their concerns and a crisis ensued. This shows that when a brand or company does something right, the rewards are endless, however once the same brand or company transgresses, problems will follow. It seems trust is a crucial component to the consumer brand relationship. Brands appear more credible when they are trustworthy. Honesty and the consideration of the consumer’s welfare is also of importance which leads to trust. From looking at the research, trust is imperative as commitment often ensues and is strengthened by trust. Trust alone cannot maintain a lasting relationship. There are also many determinants of trust and one pivotal determinant is brand personality. A consumer may place more trust in a brand simply because that brand is perceived to be similar to them. Brand personality as discussed below is of great importance as it impacts on trust, commitment and consumer-brand relationships. Dimensions of brand personality It is important to consider the different components which make up ‘brand personality’. Fournier (1998) began the discussion by discussing the personality of a brand similar to that of human relationship characteristics. Put slightly differently, Aaker (1997) described the construct of brand personality, referring to ‘human characteristics associated with a brand’. Within the consumer behaviour research and literature, a focus has been on what many psychologists call ‘the self’. Aaker notes that a brand personality enables a consumer to project his or her ‘self, ideal self or other dimensions of the self’ (Aaker, 1997). It is clear why this is an accepted notion within the literature. There appears to be a general consensus that many marketers and advertisers make attempts to 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

20 generate a type of brand that its consumers can identify with and relate to. The reasons for this are plentiful. This can be demonstrated best in the fashion industry with clothing. At a basic level, retailers will identify who their target market is. However this should not be viewed at such a basic stance. This may be a digression of the point made, however knowing who your target market is is the beginning of the creation of the brand personality. Every detail affects the personality. A retailer will design and create clothes which fit in with the needs and wants from the specific target market. A clothing retailer is unlikely to be successful if research is not done into the trends, needs and wants of the target customer. If a retailer is successful in creating a personality in their brand that their target customers can identify with, they are likely to engage in word of mouth communications as mentioned earlier. Psychologists agree that individuals will form groups based on similarities in personalities. It is important for marketers and retailers in this example retain and learn from this information. This point, while digressing slightly is made to demonstrate the move to social media in these attempts by retailers to gain an insight into their target market’s personalities, in order to form a brand personality to match. Organisations are now moving towards engaging in dialogue within social media platforms like facebook and twitter to gain this insight. While engaging in this dialogue for research purposes, there are of course several more advantages for the organisation/brand, as well as the consumer of course. This point will be demonstrated in an online clothing retailer: ASOS.com. Ten year old asos (as seen on screen) are an online only department clothing shop. Within the last two years, the retailer has engaged in several forms of online communication including newsletters, money off vouchers sent via email. More recently however, with the ever growing use of social media platforms, asos have been employing more dynamic and innovative techniques to engage their customers. On Facebook and twitter, asos asked customers to send photos into them in different outfits that described their personalities. Customers would attach a few notes on their chosen outfit. ASOS ran competitions alongside this campaign. This meant that customers could communicate with asos on a friendly, informal manner. ASOS were not necessarily seen as a retailer, but fellow advocates of fashion. Customers could identify with asos on a higher level, by sharing information with one another rather than receiving mass one way communication. Of course ASOS were able to engage in dialogue, at the same 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

21 time receiving profuse amounts of market research. ASOS appear to be keen advocates of the ‘you speak, we listen’ idea. ASOS therefore seem different within a saturated market. Many researchers in the past have concurred that if those characteristics that construct a person’s ideal or actual self are congruent with those of a brand, the ‘greater the preference of a brand’ (Aaker, 1997; Malhotra, 1981; Sirgy, 1982). Aaker points towards the similarities and differences within brand personality, by discussing the formation of the human personality traits and those of a brand personality (Aaker, 1997). Human personality traits ‘are inferred on the basis of an individual’s behaviour, physical characteristics, attitudes and beliefs’ (Aaker, 1997). The brand personality is formed by those who interact with it. In other words, those customers who interact with the brand directly associate their personality traits with the traits of the brand. After rigorous analysis to identify the five brand personality dimensions, Aaker (1997) branded sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness as those five. To summarise, sub traits were also found within each personality dimension. Sincerity for example was characterised by honesty, cheerfulness. Excitement: daring, imaginative, competence: reliable, intelligent, sophistication: upper class and finally ruggedness: outdoorsy. While this framework has been found to be ‘reliable, valid and generalizable’ (Aaker, 1997), the brand personality scale is likely to have changed in the previous 13 years. With the rise of the internet and social media use by consumers and organisations, this could impact on the manner of which consumers interact with their brands, and the traits they transfer onto them. However it could also be argued that human personality traits are unlikely to have altered significantly throughout the last 13 years and that customers continue to have high (if not higher) expectations from the quality of product and/or service. It would be an interesting to gain an insight into whether the framework still works in today’s market. Perhaps the framework could work within the changing dynamics of communication, rather than against. It could be that it could be adapted to a specific model of relationship marketing so that it encompasses the current and past nature of brand personality. Conclusion

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22 After reviewing the relevant literature on trust, commitment, brand relationships and the models measuring those variables, it is clear that there is a gap in literature with regards to the impact of social media on these variables. Social media is a new phenomenon within marketing practise and therefore scarcely investigated in using empirical testing methods. It is clear that there is not a general consensus on the treatment of trust and commitment, i.e. whether they should be treated consecutively, where one leads to the other, or whether they should be treated as one entity, where they simultaneously impact on consumer-brand relationships. It is this author’s belief that trust leads to commitment, which indirectly leads to a brand relationship. Figure 1.2 details the adapted model used for this research. Figure 1.2- Social media relationship model

The models described in this review all contain strengths and weaknesses. One of the fundamental weaknesses is the omitting of social media in the measures. This is not surprising as these models and measures of brand relationship were constructed long before social media came into existence and was acknowledged to have a profound impact on marketing practises. Thus, not one single model will be used in this research. A new model of relationship marketing will be created that encompasses the strengths of each model and social media. The adapted model contains five components: engagement with social media, brand personality, trust, commitment and brand relationship. Firstly, brand personality has been placed in a position where it can affect and influence the remaining components. The personality or perceived personality of a brand can 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

23 affect the level of engagement between the consumer and the brand. Brand personality can also affect the perceived trust from a consumer’s point of view. If a consumer identifies a brand that is similar in personality, they are likely place a degree of trust in that brand based on its personality. In the same way, brand personality influences on commitment and ultimately the brand relationship. The model suggests that there will be a direct correlation between the engagement of social media, trust and commitment. It also proposes that trust and commitment both lead to a consumer-brand relationship, but allows both components to work together and separately. There are a number of different scenarios towards the goal of a brand relationship. For example, trust may follow from social media engagement, which indirectly leads to a brand relationship. Another scenario may involve engagement in social media leading to trust, then to commitment and following on towards a brand relationship. The model allows for components to be omitted from a scenario. Perhaps consumers feel they do not need trust as well as commitment to create a long lasting brand relationship. It is important to recognise individual difference in consumer opinion with regards to the relationships they have with their chosen brands.

This investigation attempts to identify the links between engagement with social media, trust and commitment, and overall brand relationship. Objectives 1. To identify the level engagement of social media between consumers and brands. 2. To identify whether engagement in social media impacts on trust. 3. To identify whether engagement in social media impacts on commitment. 4. To identify whether trust and commitment lead to a stronger consumerbrand relationship. 5. To identify the role that brand personality has on each of the variables.

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24 Chapter 3 Methodology As mentioned in the previous chapter, several themes arose from reviewing previous literature. This investigation aimed to use the premises set in previous literature on trust, commitment and the effects these variables have on consumer-brand relationships. Null hypothesis 3 (Trust in a brand will not lead to commitment to a brand, which together will strengthen the brand relationship) as described in the previous chapter was a decision made subsequent to finding no consensus on the treatment of both trust and commitment. Rejecting the null hypothesis assumes that trust is more likely to result in commitment which will subsequently indirectly lead to a brand relationship. It does not seem as logical an argument to assume that commitment towards a brand will lead to trust, which indirectly leads to a brand relationship. It appears throughout the literature that commitment is a more long term investment behavioural trait towards a brand. While trust must be sustained to prolong commitment, it would seem logical that a relationship with a brand cannot ensue without both of the foundations in place. This hypothesis is therefore suggesting that trust and commitment must both be present in order for a brand relationship to exist. Positivism It is important to state that methodology is not a discussion of the various research methods that are suitable for this research, but a discussion of the approach to the research and the philosophy behind it. The research perspective that this research takes is Positivism. A term coined by Auguste Comte (1857) (Fisher, 2007) held that human behaviour can be subjected to scientific and rational investigation. It also maintains that ‘humans can be studied as objectively as the natural world can’ (Fisher, 2007). General laws of behaviour are created and tested according to Positivism. These laws which are formed by research are used to predict behaviour in other research to quantifiably study behaviour. One disadvantage to the Positivist route with regards to research are the ‘norms’ that are created by general laws. Once a norm is formed, tested and made a general law, positivism can only examine behaviour as an average. It rules out the possibility of seeking information about individuals and particularities. The reason this point is made here is for the reason that research cannot arguably be absolutely positivist. Researcher bias can still be influential in

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25 the decisions that are made in the research, which makes the general laws difficult to be made value-free (Fisher, 2007). Fisher (2007) states that simply having an interest in the research means the research is more subjective. Extreme positivism states that scientists and researchers should be disinterested in the outcome of their research in order for the investigation to remain as valuefree as possible. Deductive reasoning Deductive reasoning stems from the workings of French Philosopher Rene Descartes and describes the method of gaining knowledge. It holds that deductive arguments are developed by following a set of premises. A researcher for example conducting an investigation would first find similar studies already done. Testing has already been done on a particular subject, therefore a set of premises are already in place. Deductive reasoning attempts to form conclusions based on this premises. In the case of this current research, the literature review in the previous chapter has covered the relevant research that surrounds brand relationships and the factors that have an effect. The previous research confirms that there is a set of premises that can be tested. Deductive reasoning is often compared and contrasted to inductive reasoning, where researchers test something new that has never been investigated prior to that research. This current research is therefore utilising deductive reasoning to form conclusions, which will ideally lead to patterns of behaviour and identify general links between the variables mentioned earlier. There have been a vast amount of premises set within previous research. Some authors have claimed that trust in a brand leads to brand commitment which indirectly leads towards a brand relationship. Others on the other hand have held contested that trust and commitment simultaneously affect consumerbrand relationships. For the reason that there is not an absolute consensus on a testing model of brand relationships, a model will have to be created for this research that also encompasses social media. Social media has yet to be examined alongside trust and commitment towards a brand and brand relationships, so in that sense that part of the research will be inductive. But the majority of the research will come from a deductive reasoning stance. Research methods

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26 Qualitative and quantitative methods of research were employed in this investigation to gain a rich amount of data from the target population. By using both means of research methods, generalizability to the general population is increased. The range of exploration in the study becomes vaster which in turn should gather significant statistics and a deeper insight into the factors surrounding brand relationships. The research’s aims and objectives were to be met by the nature of the questions asked in the quantitative and qualitative methods. The adapted model for this research that encompassed social media into already working models of relationship marketing was to test the relationship between the engagement of social media and commitment, trust and ultimately, consumer- brand relationships. Qualitative methods Qualitative methods were used before the quantitative side of the research. This was to gauge the response of participants in order to formalise questions for the quantitative part of this research. Three in depth interviews took place at approximately thirty minutes each. The purpose for qualitative research was to gain a rich, in depth understanding into the way consumers engage with their chosen brands. By using projective techniques, it was possible to elicit a deeper response into the processes and influences into consumerbrand relationship and behaviour. Participants were asked how they felt at certain moments during accounts of experiences and how others may feel in that situation. Third party views were asked of the participant to get a different point of view that the participant may not have thought of if they were thinking of their own perspective. The advantage of using this kind of technique is gaining an open, detailed account of the participant’s weekly use of social media. It allowed participants to discuss experiences they had had with brands. Projective techniques are able to obtain an insight into the extent to one’s feelings about a brand, rather than demonstrating this on a scale. Questions such as ‘Describe your actions after seeing an update from a brand’ was particularly useful. Not only did it provide a detailed account of actions after seeing an update that interested the participant, but it provided further questions to include in the questionnaire. Questions such as ‘do you think that you need to have trust in order to be committed to a brand, or do they work together?’ was a question of value because it enabled the participant to describe and criticise their relationship and the components that are of value to them in that relationship.

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27 The decision to model trust and commitment as separate variables, but also interlinked was a decision that would be tested within the research. This will be discussed in more detail in recommended future research later. Finally, asking the participant to describe the influence that social media has had on perceptions of a brand was a question that could not be included in the quantitative questionnaire, but it was a vital variable for this research and therefore included in the qualitative part of the research. Quantitative survey methods would not have allowed for such a deep understanding of the impact of social media and the consumer-brand relationship. The in-depth interviews were recorded using a Dictaphone and then transferred onto a computer ready for transcribing. Each of the interviews was transcribed and was prepared for analysis. Using Microsoft excel, it was possible to view the interview line by line in order to form codes. Codes were given labels and administered to each line if relevant of each interview. There were almost 20 codes to begin with. The codes were then condensed further and there was a second analysis to create new codes. Those new codes were again condensed to allow for themes to be created. The third level analysis of the interviews created themes that ran through the data as a whole. Once themes had been found, relationships needed to be identified between the data and once relationships were established, it was possible to make interpretations about the data. Quantitative methods The formal side of the research will place emphasis on set questions and fixed response options. The questions are administered to a large amount of people to gain a representative sample of the target population. The quantitative research aims to identify a vast amount of data to be able to test the theories mentioned in previous chapters. The main goals of quantitative research are set out by Hair et al (2006): 1) Make accurate predictions about relationships between market factors and behaviours. 2) Gain meaningful insights into those relationships, 3) validate existing relationships and 4) test various types of hypotheses. The quantitative side of the research encompassed ‘scale measurement, questionnaire design, sampling and statistical data analyses’ (Hair et al, 2006). Online survey methods were used employed in this side of the research. Online surveys are a relatively new method, but maintain premises set in other survey 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

28 methods. An online survey is posted onto the internet where people can access the survey and answer online. Using online surveys as a means to gather quantitative data is chosen for the following reasons. Online surveys are easily administered and there is no limit on who can access it. It has been argued in the past by several research methods authors for example Hair et al (2006) that online survey methods are ‘initially passive in nature’ and that those who have an interest are the only ones to find the survey and complete it. However, social media platforms such as facebook and twitter can be used to post a link to the online survey where participants agree to participant before completing the questionnaire. While many may argue that because online surveys are posted online and therefore available to anyone, response bias may occur. However to combat this issue, eligibility questions will be set out at the start to ensure that participants are appropriate for the study. These questions will be based on age and use of social media. If participants pass the eligibility questions at the beginning and agree to take part by printing their name as signed consent, they will be taken through to the formal questionnaire. Measures of trust and commitment The dyadic trust scale was used in part to create the quantitative questionnaire administered to participants. Components from the scale were taken that could be translated to measuring trust with a brand, rather than a human relationship as investigated by Larzelere et al (1980). Four of the eight components of the dyadic trust scale were adapted, identifying the extent to which participants agree with their chosen brand’s behaviour. The dyadic trust scale asked participants to demonstrate whether their chosen brands are honest, truthful and looking out for both parties welfare. The organisational commitment scale from Allen and Meyer (1990) was adapted to create measures of affective brand commitment and continuance brand commitment (Fullterton, 2003). For example ‘I feel emotionally attached to my chosen brand’ was used to measure affective commitment and ‘my life would be disrupted if I switched away from my chosen brand’ was used to measure continuance commitment. Rusbalt’s (1983) measures of commitment were investigating human relationships, but components were adapted for this study to measure brand commitment by a consumer. For example ‘How attractive would an alternative have to be for you to switch brands?’ was used to measure brand alternatives in terms of brand commitment.

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29 Questionnaire questions The questions for the questionnaire were constructed by using various previous methods of measuring brand commitment, trust and brand personality. Thus, an adapted scale was created combining several components of different scales. This was done to encompass many aspects of previous work and to interlink the use of social media. The questionnaire began with eligibility questions to ensure that participants would be appropriate respondents of the study, for example ‘Do you use at least facebook or twitter to follow brands?’. Engagement of social media questions asked how many brands participant’s follow, what kinds of brands they were, how often participants engage in social media and the actions participants take to engage with the chosen brands. Section B asked questions concerning brand personality, identifying whether participants felt their chosen brands had a personality and the extent to which that personality matched its’ social media engagement and the extent to which it matched the participant’s personality. Section C moves on to trust. This section enquires into the degree of importance that trust is in the consumer-brand relationship. It asks a series of questions to which participants state their level of agreement on a 5 point scale (Strongly agree, strongly disagree). Measures of commitment within the questionnaire are similar, but as discussed earlier asks the extent to which brand switching behaviour would occur. Pilot testing It was important to pilot test the questionnaire to ensure that individuals understood what the questions asked of them and how they should respond appropriately. It was particularly important to pilot the first question as this asked participants whether they engaged in social media with brands. This question was difficult for some participants in the pilot study as some participants did not engage with ‘brands’. Some participants did not fully understand what it meant to be a brand, while others did not realise they were engaging in brand conversations. The question needed to be altered a few times to ensure that it included as many people as possible, but not to include everyone that it might not be relevant to which would skew the data. Ethics When conducting any kind of research, it is essential to consider ethics when gathering the data for analysis. This investigation carried out a number of

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30 actions to ensure that the research met ethical codes and guidelines. Participants firstly gave consent to their involvement of the project before any questions were asked. It was important for the participants to understand what their involvement would be and what their data would be used for. A participant information sheet was issued to all participants along with a link to the questionnaire. Participants were advised to view the information sheet first so they could ask any questions before taking part in the research. The participant information sheet was also important as it required a participant ‘signature’ and the date it was signed. In this information sheet, details about the research were included along with details of how the data would be kept confidential; for example: Any information or data this research collects from you, the participant will be kept confidential and used only for the purpose of this research. No personal information will be used in the final report. Anonymity is also important within research and participants were made aware that the ‘personal details’ spoken of above were related to their name, but not necessarily their age or sex. Testing for age and sex may be of significant importance in analysing results. It is important to recognise that there was no cause for deception in this research. While the ethical guideline for deception was considered, it is not relevant to this investigation. The in depth interviews were recorded with a Dictaphone for transcribing and analysis later. It was made clear to the participant that their interviews would be recorded, but the data would only be used for the purpose of research and kept private throughout the entire investigation. Any data stored for the purpose of the research will be destroyed once the research is complete. Sampling There are stages that researchers should take when developing and implementing a sampling plan (Hair et al, 2006). The first stage is defining the target population. The target population for this research are males and females aged between 18 and 65, who actively engage in social media to interact in various means with brands. It is important to state that whether participants’ engagement is light or heavy was not identified within the target population definition, but could be a confounding variable within the results. This will be discussed in more detail later. 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

31 The second step of the sampling plan is selecting a data collection method. As discussed earlier, in depth interviews of three participants at approximately thirty minutes each generated the qualitative data for the research. A sample size of between 50-100 was recruited for the quantitative side of the research, which were answering the questionnaire. Online survey methods were used for the quantitative side of the research, meaning that following normal guidelines and methods of recruitment are diverse. The questionnaire was uploaded via a link onto social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter for participants to ‘click through’ to the questionnaire and fill out the questions online. What transpires in this case of participant recruitment is that the questionnaire is open to anyone in a given network. Consequently, the link can be forwarded on to others and the questionnaire can potentially reach a vast number of respondents. In other words, the questionnaire can go ‘viral’. Of course, this resembles the sampling technique snowballing. Snowballing is a sampling technique where current participants recruit others themselves. On twitter for example, participants are able to post the link to the questionnaire to their individual profile, where their network will have access to it. The advantage of this technique is that potential recruits are likely to have an interest in the subject area, if current participants have forwarded the post to their network. Once participants have completed the questionnaire, the responses will be recorded ready for a formal statistical analysis procedure. This statistical analysis was done using software SPSS. Once data is inputted into SPSS, various tests can be done to identify significant statistics. Firstly, variables were computed using a function on SPSS to gather similar variables together to create a unified variable. For example measures of trust were clustered together in order to create ‘overall trust’, measures of commitment were clustered in order to create overall commitment. Bivariate correlations were conducted on the data to identify where there were relationships and how significant those relationships were. Hypotheses The null hypotheses tested in this research are as follows: H1: There will not be a positive correlation between the engagement of social media and trust of a brand.

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32 H2: There will not be a positive correlation between the engagement of social media and commitment of a brand. H3: Trust in a brand will not lead to commitment to a brand, which together will strengthen the brand relationship. H4: There will not be a relationship between brand personality with a) social media engagement, b) trust, c) commitment and d) brand relationship. Limitations There are some problems associated with this kind of research, concerning the qualitative methods and the quantitative methods. Firstly, only three participants took part in the in-depth interviews. While a lot of rich information can be gathered from these three interviewees, it does not necessarily represent the population that engages with social media and brands. With the quantitative results, a different problem can occur. When a questionnaire is posted online for participants to be directed to and complete, the researcher loses control of who has access to the questionnaire and who is answering the questionnaire. The only control that is retained is by creating a ‘skip logic’ for the first two questions to ensure the correct people were answering the questionnaire. The first question asked whether the participant used social media to engage with brands and if the participant answered no to this question, the questionnaire ended. Similarly for the second question, participants over 18 were to be included within the target sample and any participants answering no to this question were directed to the end of the questionnaire. However, it is with confidence that by posting an online survey on social media, it allows research to be more widely spread and a random sample to be taken.

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33 Chapter 4 Results This chapter will be split into two sections: qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis. The qualitative analysis will be discussed first as the analysis was conducted prior to the quantitative analysis. As previously discussed, three in-depth interviews were conducted at approximately thirty minutes each to gain a rich response to the questions asked (see appendix). It enabled the investigation to delve deeper into the behaviour and beliefs of participants with regards to the engagement in social media and trust, commitment and brand relationships. The first stage of analysis with this method of research is to code the data. Codes are not necessarily themes that run throughout the data, but more patterns throughout the three data. 19 codes were found which were then developed into three themes. The original codes can be found in the appendix. The three themes developed and identified within this data are: conversations within social media, trust and commitment. Each will be discussed in turn below. ‘Conversations’ within social media The engagement in social media theme was developed from codes such as being part of a community, sharing, social media used in a crisis, consumerbrand interaction being personal, and brands listening to consumers. It emerged from the data that consumers and brands are now engaging in a two way conversations, rather than the traditional one way mass communication from a brand. Brands begin the ‘conversation’ by posting an update which could contain information, news, articles or promotions and waits for consumers to do what they wish with that update. All three of the interviewees claimed to find updates from their chosen brands and ‘click through’ for more information. For the

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34 purpose of the reader, ‘clicking through’ is when a consumer clicks on a link posted in an update. For example as mentioned by Sarah, one of her chosen brands is a cinema where regular reviews are written and posted: ‘I follow Vue cinema because I’m a movie fan and that’s great because most of their updates are film reviews. I’ll have a read of the film review and then retweet it so my followers can see it too’. This suggests that the balance between consumer generated content and brand generated content is more even than perhaps it has been previously. Consumers are more interested in getting involved with the brands they like as a result of social media engagement. This relates to what was said in the earlier chapter about how brand personality can impact on the engagement in social media. Consumers are in control of their social ‘listening’, so if a brand is similar to the consumer, they are likely to get more attention. It also transpired that based on the data from the interviews, these particular consumers prefer brands to be more conversational in their updates. Rather than posting messages which one would identify as ‘one way communication’ for example promotional or advertising messages, updates that are more personal and ask about the consumer are better received. By analysing the data from the interviewees, it is clear that there are different uses for social media by both brands and consumers. One of these uses discussed by all interviewees is that social media is used in a crisis. This will be discussed in more detail later but one example of how brands used social media to resolve an issue in customer services emanates from Sarah. Sarah discusses an experience with an online crockery company. After purchasing a mug as a present, and waiting for two weeks for delivery with no success, Sarah got in

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35 touch via telephone to the customer services department. With no resolution, Sarah decided to turn to twitter: ‘The first thing I decided to do was to rant on twitter and directed the comment at the company so that everyone could see it. The twitter webmaster of the company got in touch straight away and he wanted to know what had happened and asked if I could explain the whole thing. The next day they sent me a free mug and a little tag apologising for the trauma, which was great’. It seems an extraordinary manner at which to resolve a customer service issue when the company seemed to have a dedicated team for these matters. It would also appear that care and consideration for this particular customer was only put into practise once the customer had decided to post her views on the social networking website. What the customer is able to do on twitter for example is send out an update to their followers with information about the experience and direct the update towards but not directly at, the company in dispute. Once a company’s reputation is in jeopardy, customer service levels seemed to proliferate. This suggests that brands and corporate entities perhaps do not understand the power of social networking websites such as facebook and twitter. Company or brand reputation cannot be harnessed by a brand as they could do prior to social media. To say whether this experience impacted on Sarah’s trust and commitment towards the brand is debatable. However, Sarah will come away from the experience knowing that the situation was resolved and can trust that should something similar happen again, it will be resolved. This is by no means a universal assumption to all brands as Sarah also noted of some brands or entities that ‘did social media very well’: ‘Waterstones have great customer service and I can’t imagine ever having any kind of problems or issues’

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36 At this point it is worth noting that Sarah felt she had ‘little relationship’ with the crockery company before the incident described above. However Sarah describes her relationship with Waterstones as: ‘Great! I feel I’m getting a good value customer experience and keeping my brand loyalty by engaging with them’. Sarah also describes having an ‘emotional attachment’ to Waterstones. Sarah also went on to say that after the incident, she was ‘completely turned off’ by the company. It would appear that the costs of switching to another brand would be very low for Sarah with regards to the crockery company, because there was no relationship to support the negative experience. While Sarah had no negative experience to speak of with regards to her relationship with Waterstones, it ponders as to whether an emotional attachment with a brand would aid the relationship if an issue were to arise. This account illustrates that rewards are plentiful for both the consumer and the brand. It was hypothesised that engagement in social media would impact on trust, commitment and lead to brand loyalty. However it is clear here that the process is not one way. Perhaps engagement in a brand comes from placing trust and remaining committed to a brand. Allen also describes a positive use of social media by a brand at a time when a problem arose at a restaurant: They had a bit of an issue with one of their restaurants and they were constantly updating the twitter feed with what the problem was and what they were doing to fix it. I thought it was really good that they were keeping their customers in the loop at all times.

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37 Allen then went onto say that this engagement with customers on social media affected his trust with the restaurant brand: ‘It made me trust them because I knew they weren’t lying about anything or hiding any element of the problem’. What this demonstrates is that when a brand or company has a problem, it is how this problem is dealt with that can impact on trust and commitment by a customer. Allen has claimed to have an emotional attachment with the restaurant brand in question, but has since commended the brand on their communication of the issue. It would appear that those customers that have an emotional attachment with a brand understand that all brands will have problems. If these problems are dealt with efficiently and effectively with full regard of the customer at all times, this problem can become a positive experience. This demonstrates the relationship between engagement in social media and trust. When this particular brand used the social media platform to communicate with its followers, levels of trust increased for that reason. Consumers want to know and understand everything about their chosen brands, whether it is positive or negative. Those brands that acknowledge the negatives about the brand and point towards changes to overcome those negatives appear to fare better, when looking at this account. The transfer of power to the consumers from brands has been well discussed within the literature and the recurrent theme emerged in this research. A brand being transparent in their business was of frequent discussion with the data as shown below by James: ‘I would love to get more of an insight into the insider trading. Brands and companies have to be much more careful than they used to be. If you have a bad experience, you can quickly tell potentially thousands of people by posting it

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38 on facebook or twitter. You don’t care whether it’s going to damage the brands reputation, you just care you’ve been mistreated’. Consumers have more than likely been keen to know the intricate details of a firm’s business running, but have up until recently, not had the opportunity to do so. Based on this account, nothing is hidden anymore. This relates to the problem that many brands face is that ‘news never dies on the internet’. This could be a positive for a brand that is being talked about for something good, but as Sarah points out in her interview, ‘how often do we remember the good stuff?’. Consumers have the power over brands by being able to quickly find information out, positive or negative and share it with their followers, who can share with their followers and so on. Allen notes also that the sharing of bad news with regards to brand behaviour spreads quickly because it can be done at ease: ‘With things like facebook, the second anything goes bad with someone, a group will be made. The issue will spread as more people join that group and companies really have to redeem themselves’. What is interesting about this comment is that not only do brands have to be concerned with the potential of negative feedback and backlash that could circulate, but redemption seems to be important to certain consumers. Allen conveys that because the scale of the damage increases with the increasing use of social media, more ‘damage control’ is needed. Social media can be viewed as an advantage to enhancing customer relations, but can equally be a hindrance. It may seem obvious that companies should strive to do everything ‘right’, however this may not always be possible. What is important and what is advised is that when something does go wrong, that it is handled effectively. This entails effective communication to all stakeholders which in itself requires regular

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39 updating to the problem, how the problem is going to be resolved and the steps taken towards the resolution of that problem. It is clear why so many companies are prioritising social media monitoring and evaluation more with the aid of Public relations. Trust, commitment and relationships From analysing the data from the interviewees, there appears to be a general consensus that trust is important to consumers at all times between consumers and chosen brands. Varying accounts were exchanged on the meaning of trust, however all participants placed trust very highly with regards to their relationships with brands. One trait that appeared to be directly linked to trust was honesty. According to this data, consumers feel that honesty is an important component in forming a trusting relationship between consumer and brand. For example James goes on: ‘I do want to be able to trust that the brands I follow are selling or offering good quality things at good prices and they’re not doing anything illegal or unethical. I want to trust that when I buy something and it says its free range for example, it’s actually free range. I like to keep faith that what they’re doing is honest. Honesty is really important. If companies or brands weren’t honest, how could I trust them?’ James’ account describes several different components to trust. The degree of trust depends on honesty; that the products or services that brands offer are of ‘good quality’ and matched by price. It is interesting when studying James’ final comment that assumes that if brands were dishonest, he could not trust the brand. This of course correlates well with schools of thought as it would seem unusual for a consumer to be able to trust a brand, if it was dishonest in its’ business. Honesty as a measure of trust was also included in the quantitative

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40 questionnaire as a result of this comment. Honesty and trust are parallel so to measure trust by identifying whether honesty is important was part of the quantitative research. Allen also places trust as very important with regards to brands and also discusses trust and use of social media: ‘I like to think I can trust them because if I didn’t trust them, I don’t think I would be following them. I think you need to have some degree of trust in the brand to give them that much attention’. Allen is claiming that if he did not trust a chosen brand, he would not engage with them on social media. This implies that by engaging in social media with a brand demonstrates a degree of advocacy on behalf of that brand. Trust is of significant importance here because if consumers are unable to trust their brands, they can simply opt out of any interaction between the brand and consumer. Once a consumer is following a brand and receiving updates, there is enormous potential for sharing of updates, retweeting, engaging in conversation and most importantly, brand advocacy. However it appears that if there is not element of trust in that relationship, that potential diminishes. Linking back to what was said earlier about engagement in social media and the direction in which the process occurs; Allen clearly states that if there was no trust within the consumer-brand relationship, he would not engage with the brand on social media. Perhaps there needs to be a minimal relationship that contains trust so that engagement in social media can occur. It has emerged from the qualitative data that trust and commitment both factor simultaneously with regards to consumer-brand relationships. There seems to be a general consensus amongst the data recorded that trust must be

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41 present in order for a consumer to be ‘committed’ to a brand, which in turn creates the foundations and maintains the relationship. Sarah begins by explaining that commitment works both ways: ‘(Herbal Essences) I like them because I feel they are committed to working on the product. I stay with them because the product works well and I trust them as brand, therefore I am committed to them’. What is interesting in this account is that Sarah believes that being committed is just as much a responsibility of the brand as well as the act of the consumer. Brands have to remain committed to the product or service and indeed its customers by listening, engaging to make the product the best it can be. Linking back to earlier discussions on how brands use social media platforms to engage with followers, it would appear that merely posting updates about promotions and news is by no means an exhaustive method of social media. Remaining committed to customers was placed of high importance. This relates to what was said earlier about how trust and commitment work together to form and maintain a relationship with a brand. An interesting account by James discusses commitment as an ‘action’: ‘I don’t think anyone could be committed to a brand if you couldn’t trust them. Commitment feels more of an ‘act’ than a state of mind. Trust is something you feel, but a commitment often involves doing something like sending on information or going to the use the product’. This statement is intriguing. Trust has been dubbed as an emotion, whereas commitment has been labelled an action. It would seem logical to think of this process in this manner as it concurs with earlier accounts as to the order of trust, commitment and relationship. Sarah and James both discuss trust as a precursor

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42 to commitment. Commitment is consequential of trust and entails acting on updates from brands. The influence of the interviews and the quantitative questionnaire The interviews had a direct influence in the quantitative research that followed. The questionnaire that was administered to participants for the quantitative part of the study included questions resulting from data found in the interviews. For example it was made clear in the interviews that honesty was a key component to measures of trust. Also measures of brand personality were adapted to include measures of trust and commitment. For example questions such as ‘I trust this brand because they are similar to me’ and ‘I want to maintain the relationship with the brand because they are similar to me’. It was hypothesised earlier that brand personality would have a direct impact on all other variables, so it would seem rational to intertwine brand personality in measures of trust and commitment.

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43 Quantitative results As mentioned previously, the quantitative part of the study occurred following the qualitative research. The questionnaire made available online collected a total of 148 responses. However not all of the data collected was usable. Of those responses, 87 respondents answered ‘yes’ to the first question: Do you use Facebook AND/OR Twitter to follow brands or products? These can be food e.g. marmite, clothing e.g. ASOS, magazines e.g. Heat, businesses e.g. Sainsburys etc. Please note that selecting 'No' will end the questionnaire. Using the software Qualtrics to create and distribute the questionnaire, ‘skip logic’ was created for this first question. Any respondent answering ‘no’ to this question brought the questionnaire to an end as any further questions would not have been applicable. Therefore of the total responses, there were 87 good data that could be used for analysis. The analysis was conducted using statistical software SPSS (statistical package for the social sciences). The data was uploaded from the Qualtrics software to eliminate the possibility of data entry error. The data was cleaned and tidied; any missing values were given a label and any data not suitable for analysis was omitted. Bivariate correlations were used to identify relationships between the different variables. There were several different measures of engagement in social media, trust, commitment and brand personality. Computed variables were created using a function in SPSS to form a unified variable i.e. all measures of trust were computed into ‘overall trust’. Subsequent relationships could be identified between the different overall measures of engagement in social media, trust, commitment and brand personality. This enables the data to be analysed as a ‘bigger picture’, and more defined, detailed variables. Computed variables* *Note to reader: The way in which questions were asked varied from question to question. Scales were created in different orders to combat order error. Question 6 for example, a measure of trust begins with 1=Skim read with no further action, 3= Read in detail, click through and forward to others. Other questions began with scales where 1=strongly agree, 5=strongly disagree. This meant that

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44 for certain correlations, significant statistics displayed a negative correlation, where a positive correlation should be in place. Any tables or graphs demonstrating a positive correlation but appear negative are therefore explained. Once the variables were computed to create unified variables, they could be analysed in statistical means. Firstly overall trust and overall engagement were correlated and found a statistically significant positive correlation between the two variables. This is detailed in table 1.1: Table 1.1 Correlations of overall trust and engagement.
Correlations OverallTrust OverallTrust Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Engagement Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). 77 -.235
*

Engagement 1 -.235* .040 77 1

.040 77 87

The significant correlation is at the 0.05% confidence level. Graph 1.1 displays this correlation: Graph 1.1 Positive relationship between overall trust and engagement.

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45

The line of best fit shows the mean of both variables. As engagement in social media increases, as does overall trust. This supports hypothesis 1: H1: There will be a positive correlation between the engagement of social media and trust of a brand. Secondly, overall engagement in social media was correlated with overall commitment. The Pearson Correlation is displayed in table 1.2: Table 1.2 Correlation between overall engagement and overall commitment

Correlations Engagement Engagement Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Commitment Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). 87 -.278
*

Commitment 1 -.278* .015 77 1

.015 77 77

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46

Once again there is a statistically significant positive correlation between the engagement in social media and the levels of commitment that participants have towards chosen brands. Graph 1.2 displays this correlation: Graph 1.2 Positive correlation between commitment and engagement

These results illustrate the link between engagement and commitment. As a consumer becomes more involved with a certain brand and engages, commitment levels rise. Question 6 as described later in more detail with regards to commitment, there appears to be a pattern where consumers are first interested in a product or brand, become engaged with them on social media platforms and the more engaged consumers become with brands, the more committed they are. H3 aimed to test the way in which trust and commitment work; i.e. whether they work parallel or individually to create and sustain a brand relationship. Overall trust and overall commitment were then correlated to find a statistically significant positive correlation as shown in table 1.3: Table 1.3 Correlations between commitment and overall trust

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Correlations Commitment Commitment Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N OverallTrust Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). 77 .463** .000 77 77 1 OverallTrust .463** .000 77 1

Graph 1.3 also illustrates this strong positive relationship:

As the line of best fit

indicates, as trust increases, so does commitment. Based on these findings, it is difficult to decide the order in which trust and commitment lead to a brand relationship. It is clear that the hypothesis should be accepted based on this finding as trust leads to commitment in consumer-brand relationships. Brand personality was analysed and correlated against overall trust, commitment and engagement as H4 identified a possible relationship between this variable with all others. Table 1.4 shows the significant correlations between brand personality and overall trust, engagement and commitment.

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48 Table 1.4 Significant positive relationships between brand personality and overall trust, engagement, commitment
Correlations OverallTrust OverallTrust Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Engagement Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Commitment Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Brandpersonality Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). 77 -.235* .040 77 .463
**

Engagement 1 -.235
*

Commitment .463
**

Brandpersonality .395** .000 77 -.255* .023 79 .283* .013

.040 77 1

.000 77 -.278* .015

87 -.278
*

77 1

.000 77 .395
**

.015 77 -.255
*

77 .283
*

77 1

.000 77

.023 79

.013 77 79

Of the statistically significant positive correlations found in these results, the figure most notable is the correlation between brand personality and overall trust. There is a statistically significant positive relationship at the confidence level 0.00%. This suggests that the more consumers felt their chosen brands had a ‘brand personality’ and the more that personality matched their own, more trust was placed into that brand. The same can be said for the engagement and commitment variables and their relationship with brand personality. Both were statistically significant and it transpires that the more a brand had a perceived personality, the more consumers were engaged and committed.

Engagement in social media and trust One of the hypotheses set out in the earlier chapter was that there would be a positive correlation between engagement in social media and trust between consumer and brand. Using SPSS, relationships were identified when correlating measures of engagement with measures of trust.

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49 Question 6, measuring engagement asked respondents about how much attention they give to an update from their chosen brands and this was measured on a scale of: 1. Skim read with no further action 2. Read in detail and click through for more 3. Read in detail, click through and forward to others. 4. Other. This was correlated with measure of trust (Question 14_1_2): ‘How far do you agree with this statement: my chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own’ There is a statistically significant positive relationship between these two variables at the 0.01% confidence level. As participants gave more attention to chosen brands’ updates, the more the participant felt that the brand was interested in their welfare as much as their own. Question 6 was also correlated with question 14_1_4: ‘My brand is perfectly honest and truthful with me’ There is a statistically significant positive relationship between these two variables at the 0.05% confidence level. Similar to the previous statement, as participants gave more attention to chosen brands updates, brand ‘honesty and truthfulness’ increased. This suggests that the increased level of interaction with a brand affects how honest and truthful a participant finds their brands. Question 5, which measured how often participants engaged with social media, was correlated with question 14_1_3: ‘There are times when I can’t trust my brand’ In this case, there was a statistically significant negative relationship between these two variables at the 0.05% confidence level. This found that the more often participants claimed to engage with social media, the times where they could not trust their chosen brand decreased. This demonstrates that higher usage of social media platforms such as facebook and twitter combat levels of distrust towards a brand. Question 9, continuing with measures of engagement in social media asked respondents to identify what makes updates from chosen brands interesting to them. This measure was correlated to question 14, a measure of trust. There is a statistical significant positive relationship between Q14_1_1 (I trust the brands I follow/are fans of) and an interest in the brand (Q9_1). The positive relationship found at the 0.01% confidence level is expected as one

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50 would assume that consumers would trust brands that they are interested in, and vice versa. Likewise, there were several other significant correlations between what makes updates interesting to consumers and trust. Wanting to be kept updated was a statistically significant positive correlation with trust, as was wanting to be the first to hear news. Question 9_6 asked participants to tick if they felt that updates were interesting to them because they could ‘tell others through social media about a brand’. Interestingly, there was a significant positive correlation between those claiming to trust their chosen brands and question 9_6 at the 0.05% confidence interval. This demonstrates that consumers are more likely to advocate their chosen brands if they feel they can trust them. This links to what was discussed in previous chapters about word of mouth communications and advocacy. Consumers feeling their brands are untrustworthy, they are unlikely to convey positive word of mouth communications to peers. Continuing with the same line of thought, correlations were created between question 9_2 and 9_3 (I want to be kept updated, I like to be the first to hear the news) and question 14_1_2: Agree/disagree: My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own. There were statistically significant positive correlations between these variables at the 0.05% confidence interval. This positive correlation was as expected; while consumers want up to date news from their brands, it is also important that those brands are considering the welfare of their target audience simultaneously. It is worth quickly noting that there were no significant correlations between question 9 (what makes updates interesting to you) and the measure of trust ‘there are times when I cannot trust my brand’. As there is no significant correlation, this could suggest that consumers do not engage as heavily with brands when there is no trust involved in the relationship. Overall, when looking broadly at these findings, it is clear that there is a significant relationship between engagement in social media and trust within consumer-brand relationships. Significant positive relationships have been found that suggest that the deeper and more often the engagement in social media by consumers, trust within the consumer-brand relationship increases. Question 6 measured what consumers decide do with updates they receive from their chosen brands. The data demonstrates the need for trust in this kind of relationship to ‘forward’ on messages to peers. Based on these findings, when

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51 consumers receive updates from their brands, they are unlikely to share those updates with their peers if they do not trust in the brand or the update. Consumers do not want to send others messages that could be damaging, dishonest or unreliable. Therefore, at present these findings support the hypothesis: H1: There will be a positive correlation between the engagement of social media and trust of a brand. Hypothesis H1 is accepted based on the findings described above. Commitment Following on from measuring the engagement in social media with trust, engagement in social media was then correlated with measures of commitment outlined in the earlier chapter, methods. The measure of engagement in social media first used was question 6 (see above for description). Question 15 which measured commitment had 4 levels, requiring participants to rate on a scale the extent to which they agreed with certain statements. There was a statistically significant positive correlation between question 15_1_1 (I am committed to maintaining my relationship with this brand) and question 6 at the 0.05% confidence level. This illustrates the link between being more engaged in social media and the commitment towards maintaining the relationship with that particular brand. The more consumers engage and interact with their chosen brands, the desire to maintain the relationship increases. Similarly, there was a statistically significant positive correlation between question 15_1_3 (I feel emotionally attached to my chosen brands) and question 6 at the 0.05% confidence level. In earlier chapters, emotional attachment was discussed as a precursor for maintaining commitment in relationships. Fournier (1998) described emotional attachment in human relationships and it appears that emotional involvement within a brand is emerging more as social media gives brands a voice to partake in ‘conversations’ between them and their consumers. The more consumers feel ‘emotionally attached’ to their chosen brands, the commitment to maintaining the relationship strengthens. One measure of commitment asked participants to rate on a scale how much they agreed with the following statement: ‘My life would disrupted if I switched away from my brand’ This was correlated with question 6 and found interesting results. There was a statistical significance between these two variables at the 0.01% confidence

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52 level. While it was not expected to be such a significant relationship between these two variables, it demonstrates the effect that social media can have. The more involved consumers get in engaging with their chosen brands, the higher the switching costs are. More on this will be discussed in later chapters. Correlations were also made between measures of trust and commitment, testing H3: H3: Trust in a brand will lead to commitment to a brand, which together will lead to brand relationship. There were several significant positive correlations between the measures of trust and commitment. These are displayed in table 1.5:

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Correlations
Q14_1_2How far do you agree with Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of Q14_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-There are times when I can't trust my brand Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N -.133 .250 77 -.048 .681 77 77 1 -.133 .248 77 -.016 .887 77 -.181 .114 77 -.254* .026 77 -.154 .180 77 -.054 .643 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .432** .000 77 77 1 -.048 .681 77 .425** .000 77 .521** .000 77 .453** .000 77 .279* .014 77 .264* .020 77 .330** .003 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N 77 1 these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own .432
**

Q15_1_1How far Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statementThere are times when I can't trust my brand -.133 .250 77 Q14_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is perfectly honest and truthful with me .470
**

Q15_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I imagine having a relationship with this brand several years from now
**

53
Q15_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I feel emotionally attached to my chosen brands
**

Q15_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My life would be disrupted if I switched away from my brand

Q14_1_5How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is truly sincere in its promises .526
**

do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I am committed to maintaining my relationship with this brand .504

.348

.285

*

.206 .072 77

.000 77

.000 77

.000 77

.000 77

.002 77

.012 77

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Q14_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please

Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N

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.000 .000 77 77

.470**

.425**

-.133 .248 77

1

.718** .000

.354** .002 77

.119 .304 77

.250* .029 77

.124 .283 77

77

77

54 There are some notable strong positive correlations that exist within the correlations. There was a statistically significant positive correlation between participants saying they ‘trust the brands [they] follow/are fans of’ and were ‘committed to maintaining [their] relationship with this brand’ at the 0.00% confidence level. There was also a statistically significant positive correlation between those that trusted their chosen brands and those that imagined having a relationship with their chosen brand years from now and those that felt emotionally attached to their brands. The majority of the findings in this correlation found statistically significant positive correlations, which demonstrates the hypothesis that trust and commitment work together to achieve a consumer brand relationship. As trust in a brand rises, commitment towards the brand follows. Brand personality As outlined in the model displayed in earlier chapters, it was hypothesised that brand personality would impact on all of the four remaining variables: engagement, trust, commitment and brand relationship. Measures of brand personality were correlated with measures of brand personality/trust and brand personality/commitment. These correlations can be seen in table 3.1: Table 3.1 Correlations between brand personality, trust and commitment

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Correlations
Q12_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-The updates I receive from my chosen brand match its' personality Q12_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-The updates I receive from my chosen brand match its' personality Q12_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-The personality of the brands I follow are similar to me Q12_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust this brand because they are similar to me Q12_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I want to maintain the relationship with the brand because they are similar to me *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .240* .034 78 .674** .000 77 .808** .000 77 78 1 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .215 .059 78 .743** .000 77 78 1 .808** .000 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .183 .110 78 78 1 .743** .000 77 .674** .000 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N 79 1 Q12_1_2How far do Q12_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-The personality of the brands I follow are similar to me .183 .110 78 you agree with these statements? : Please choose one Q12_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I

per statement-I trust want to maintain the this brand because they are similar to me .215 .059 78 relationship with the brand because they are similar to me .240* .034 78

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From looking at these correlations, it is clear that brand personality has a direct affect on trust and commitment. There was a statistically significant positive correlation between question 12_1_2: ‘The personality of the brands I follow are similar to me’ and question 12_1_3: ‘I trust this brand because they are similar to me’. Also illustrating statistically significant positive correlations were question 12_1_2 and question 12_1_14: ‘I want to maintain the relationship with the brand because they are similar to me’. Both positive correlations were found at the 0.01% confidence level. These findings demonstrate H4; participants felt that they trusted and were more committed to a brand when they believed the brand to be similar to them. Therefore it would suggest that brand personality is very important from the point of view of the brand as the personality needs to be formed correctly and accurately to match that of its target customers so that trust and commitment ensues.

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Chapter 5 Discussion There are many conclusions that can be drawn from looking at both the quantitative and qualitative results. Before commencing the research, it was made clear that research into the impact of social media on trust, commitment and brand loyalty was scarce. As discussed in earlier chapters, there is a rich amount of literature surrounding relationship marketing concepts such as trust, commitment, and brand personality. However social media was not measured against these variables, as social media is a relatively new phenomenon in the field. This was seen as an opportunity to test existing theories and models of relationship marketing and encompass social media, contributing to the body of research on consumer-brand relationships. The qualitative data will be discussed in more detail first, followed by the quantitative data results. Qualitative results The in-depth interviews were used as a tool to gain rich responses to questions that had emerged from reviewing existing literature. There was much support to the hypotheses made from the in-depth interviews and also produced results that were not anticipated. It was earlier hypothesised that the engagement in social media would influence levels of trust and commitment,

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58 which would indirectly impact on the strength of the relationship between consumer and brand. However it appeared that that process is not always one way. The majority of participants that took part in the qualitative side of the research claimed that in order for them to engage with a brand on social media platforms, there already needed to be some degree of trust, commitment and interest. Social media may not be the first port of call when beginning a relationship with a brand. It is suggested that the model needs to be adapted further to incorporate flexibility within the process. Commitment may lead to engagement with the brand using social media, which in turn may lead to trust for example. While it was not anticipated within the adapted model created for this research, it does have some rationale behind it. Social media platforms like facebook and twitter give the consumer back the power in terms of what they want to hear and engage with. The ‘social listening’ is not determined by a brand, but guided once the brand has the consumer ‘listening’. It is therefore important for brands to entice target consumers into the ‘community’ to allow interaction and ongoing engagement. This links back to the discussion of power back to the consumers. Consumers can very easily choose to not listen to particular brands on social media. Social media is not a medium for traditional marketing as it relies on the individual partaking in the interaction first. With traditional marketing practise, interesting and informative campaigns are directed at certain target consumers with the hope that some will engage with it and act on it. The problem with social media is this cannot be achieved simply. Brands have the opportunity to advertise on facebook and twitter, but this is usually limited to advertising their social media presence, rather than campaigns. It is interesting the notion that arose concerning trust being an emotion and commitment being an action. This has not been discussed in previous

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59 literature, so could be further researched in the future. Two accounts from the indepth interviews illustrated this. It was discussed that commitment ‘often involves doing something like sending on information or going to use the product’. This again shows support for expectations that trust leads to commitment, which leads to a stronger brand relationship. It is therefore important for brands to remain transparent in their conducts in order to maintain those relationships, keeping customers committed especially in times of economic downturn. Price sensitive customers At the time of writing, the UK economy is recovering and very much suffering from the 2009 recession. While the recession was not taken into consideration within the hypotheses and other expectations, patterns emerged from the qualitative data that were interesting. It transpired that the majority of respondents to the in-depth interviews were not as susceptible to switching costs as one might assume. The respondents from the in-depth interviews talked about certain brands in an emotional manner, that is that they had an ‘emotional attachment’ to the brand. This emotional attachment, as discussed in the results chapter adds to the commitment in the brand, which suggests longevity in the relationship. Perhaps an emotional attachment aids in the brand relationship and brand loyalty. One would assume that during the recession, customers would be more sensitive in price. However it appears that customers are looking to getting good value just as much as they are looking for good prices. Many customers may not be in the same position as they were before the recession; therefore they are looking to brands that give good customer service, a good quality product/service. Customers are sensitive about much more than they were previously as customers are much wiser and knowledgeable. With the use of

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60 social media, customers can find out information about product quality and service almost instantly at their convenience, as mentioned earlier. This relates to the transfer of power to customers and correlates positively to previous findings. Handling a crisis using social media It transpired through the in-depth interviews that social media is seen as a good tool for brands handling a crisis or a problem. Again, the use of social media in handling issues was not one of the main objectives of this research, but it is an interesting finding as it obviously relates to how consumers engage with brands, trust them and remain committed to them. Two different accounts were discussed with regards to a problem. The first was Sarah and her experience with a crockery company who turned to social media to put her views on the customer service she had received, or lack thereof. Sarah commended the social media team for dealing with her problem quickly and with a gesture of goodwill. This demonstrates the widely discussed notion of word of mouth communications and how it has enormously potential to do as much bad as good. The customer service team at the company did not take the problem seriously, and it was only when the customer took to the social media platform to express their views that the matter was taken seriously. The second account was a positive one, discussing the restaurant brand that was dealing with a few issues and Allen recalls ongoing communication from the brand using social media. Without social media, the restaurant would not have been able to post ongoing updates to customers to keep them informed. Without the problem, and without social media, the restaurant may not have improved relations with its customers as it managed to with Allen, who claimed that the string of updates made him trust the brand more.

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61 Quantitative results While using statistically analysis to identify relationships between certain variables, a number of significant correlations arose. Computed variables showed support for the hypotheses that engagement in social media would positively correlate with trust, commitment, that trust would lead to commitment and that brand personality would impact on all other variables. The significant correlations between brand personality and the other variables illustrate how crucial a perceived personality of a brand is. Having a brand personality affects how consumers trust a brand, how they engage with it (using social media or otherwise), how they remain committed to it. Brand personality is the ignition to the formation of a relationship between consumer and brand. It is therefore crucial for brand managers to focus time and energy into analysing their target market and to find out what kind of personality would work. According to these results, brand personality could spell positive or negative relationships on a large scale. Improvements and future research While every effort is made to make research as accurate as possible, there are always improvements that can be made and suggestions for future research. Based on the findings in this research, there are several avenues that other researchers could go down. Firstly, an adapted model could be created that allows for the process of consumer- brand relationships to be reversed. The model used for this research did not allow for trust and commitment and existing relationships to impact the engagement in social media. Results showed that degrees of a relationship that already existed meant that consumers would then turn to social media to engage in brands, which then started the process of engagement to trust, to commitment to a stronger relationship.

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62 Perhaps more emphasis could be placed on brand personality than what was in this research. With the emergence of social media and brands using it to voice that personality, brand personality will become even more relevant. More in depth questioning surrounding brand personality could be included into qualitative and quantitative methods. As mentioned earlier, in some cases trust was seen as an emotion, where commitment was seen as an action. This could be researched further to identify whether trust is a cognitive feature of the relationship and whether commitment is behavioural attribute. This would be a substantial contribution to academic research in the field of relationship marketing. Combining social media into this research would also be of interest to identify whether social media contributes to the emotion, or actions. One perspective that was overlooked in this research is the point of view of the brand. By including the perspective of a brand in terms of the way they engage with social media themselves and how they try to manage consumerbrand relations would be worthy of note and a useful evaluation tool for a brand to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their public relations. Speaking of public relations, this kind of research could also be tailored specifically as a public relations investigation. The results discussed the use of social media in a crisis, which is a key part in public relations. Research could identify relationships between public relations activities and the general public.

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63 34 (3) 347-356 Aaker, J., Fournier, S. & Brasel, A. (2004) When Good Brands Do Bad, Journal of Consumer Research, 31 (June), 1–16. Allen, N. & Meyer, J. (1990). The measurement and antecedents of affective, continuance and normative commitment to the organization. Journal of Occupational Psychology. 63, 1-18 Anderson, E. & Weitz, B. (1992). The use of pledges to build and sustain commitment in distribution channels. Journal of Marketing Research, 29 (1) 18-34. Ashley, C. & Leonard, H. (2009) Betrayed by the buzz? Convert content and consumer-brand relationships. Journal of public policy and marketing. 28 (2) 212220 Berry , L. & Parasuraman , A . (1991) Marketing services. New York: The Free Press. Bickart, B., Schindler, R. (2001) Internet forums as influential sources of consumer information. Journal of interactive marketing, 15 (3) Biel, A. (2000) Converting image into equity. In: Brand equity and advertising: advertising’s role in building strong brands, ed. Aaker, D. & Biel, A. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 67-82 Bone, P.F. (1995) Word-of-mouth effects on short-term and long-term product judgment. Journal of Business Research, 32(3) Breivik, E. & Thorbjornsen, H. (2008) Consumer brand relationships: an investigation of two alternative models. Journal of the academic marketing science. 36, 443-472 Chaplin, N. & Deborah Roedder John (2005) The Development of Self-Brand Connections in Children and Adolescents, Journal of Consumer Research, 32 (June), 119–29. Deutsch, M. (1960) The effect of motivational orientation on trust and suspicion. Human relations, 13, 123-139 Eisingerich, A. & Rubera, G. (2010) Drivers of brand commitment: A cross-national investigation. Journal of international marketing. 18 (2) 64-79 Fisher, C. (2007) Researching and writing a dissertation, a guidebook for business students. Pearson Education Ltd. Fournier, S. (1998) Consumers and their brands: Developing relationship theory in consumer research. Journal of consumer research. 24 343-373 Fullerton, G. (2003) The impact of brand commitment on loyalty to retail service 06500707 MSc Marketing Communications Dissertation

64 brands. Canadian Journal of administrative sciences. 22 (2) 97-110 Gilliland, D. & Bello, D. (2002). The two sides to attitudinal commitment: The effect of calculative and loyalty commitment on enforcement mechanisms in distribution channels. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 30 (1) 24-43 Hair, J. & Bush, R. & Ortinau, D. (2006) Marketing research: within a changing environment. NY, McGraw-Hill Irwin Hennig-Thurau, T., Gwinner, K., Walsh, G., Gremler, D. (2004) Electric Word of Mouth via consumer-opinion platforms: What motivates consumers to articulate themselves on the internet? Journal of Interactive Marketing. 18 (1) Hinde, R. (1979) Towards understanding relationships. London: Academic Press Hrebiniak, L. (1974) Effects of job level and participation on employee attitudes and perceptions of influence. Academy of management Journal. 17, 649-662 http://www.apple.com/uk/pr/library/2010/06/28iphone.html (accessed 01/12/2010) Hughes, R. (2009) Social networks: a new perspective for direct marketing. In: Tapp, A. ed. Principles of direct and database marketing (2009) Pearson Education Limited Kelley, H. & Thibaut, J. (1978). Interpersonal relationships: A theory of interdependence. New York: Wiley. Kim, HS., Park, J., Jin, B. (2007) Dimensions of online community attributes: Examination of online communities hosted by companies in Korea. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management. 36 (10) Larzelere, R. & Huston, T. (1980) The dyadic trust scale: toward understanding interpersonal trust in close relationships. Journal of marriage and family. 42 (3) 595-604 Lau, G.T. & Ng, S. (2001) Individual and situational factors influencing negative word-of-mouth behaviour. Canadian Journal of Administrative Science, 18(3) Lawer, C., Knox, S. (2006) Customer advocacy and brand development. Journal of product and brand management. 15 (2) Lee, M., Youn, S. (2009) Electric word of mouth (eWOM) How eWOM platforms influence consumer product judgement. International Journal of Advertising. 28 (3) Louis, D. & Lombart, C. (2010) Impact of brand personality on three major relational consequences (trust, attachment, and commitment to the brand). Journal of product and brand management. 19 (2) 114-130

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65 Malhotra, N. (1981) A scale to measure self concepts, person concepts and product concepts. Journal of marketing research. 23 (November), 456-464 McAlexander, J., Schoutern, J. & Joenig, H. (2002) Building brand community. Journal of marketing. 66 (1) 28-54 Mitchell, A. (2001), Right Side Up, Harper Collins Business Books, London. Mitchell, V-W., Papavassiliou, V. (1999), "Marketing causes and implications of consumer confusion", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 8 No.4, pp.319-39. Morgan, R. & Hunt, S. (1994) The commitment- trust theory of relationship marketing. Journal of Marketing. 58, July (20-38) Ouwersloot, H. & Odekerken- Schroder, G. (2008) Who’s who in brand communities- and why? European journal of marketing 42 (5/6) 571-585 Pitt, L.F., Berthon, P.R., Watson, R.T., Zinkhan, G.M. (2002), "The internet and the birth of real consumer power", Business Horizons, Vol. 45 No.4, pp.7-14. Preece, H. (2001) Sociability and usability in online communities: determining and measuring success. Behaviour and Information technology. 20 (5) Pruitt, G. (1981) Negotiation behaviour. New York: Academic Press, Inc. Rusbalt, C. (1983) A longitudinal test of the investment model: the development (and deterioration) of satisfaction and commitment in heterosexual involvements. Journal of personality and social psychology. 45 (1) 101-117 Sen, S., Lerman, D. (2007) Why are you telling me this? An examination into negative consumer reviews on the web. Journal of Interactive Marketing. 21 (4) Sirgy, J. (1982) Self concept in consumer behaviour: A critical review. Journal of consumer research. 9 (December) 287-300 Spekman, R. (1988) Strategic supplier selection: understanding long term buyer relationships. Business horizons, 75-81 Stokburger-Sauer, N. (2010) Brand community: Drivers and outcomes. Psychology and Marketing. 27 (4) Sundaram, D.S., Mitra, K., Webster, C. (1998) Word of Mouth communications: a motivational analysis Sung, Y. & Campbell, W. (2007) Brand commitment in consumer-brand relationships: An investment model approach. Brand management. 17 (2) 97-113 Willmott, M., Nelson, W. (2003), Complicated Lives, Sophisticated Consumers, Intricate Lifestyles, Simple Solutions, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.

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Appendix 1 Information sheet What role does social media play in trust and commitment in consumer-brand relationships? Supervisor: Ed Little Purpose of this study: The aim of this research is to identify the impact of engagement in social media has on trust, commitment and relationships with brands. With the growing use of social media platforms e.g. facebook and twitter by brands and consumers, the way brands interact with consumers is changing. What this research aims to find out is whether those interactions influence the way consumers trust and maintain their commitment to a brand. Procedure: If you agree to take part in this research, you will be required to answer a questionnaire with subsections. The questionnaire begins with questions based on your use of social media. It will then ask questions about trust in the next section, followed by commitment. There will be some questions based on brand personality and then a few questions about you. The questionnaire is an online survey and the results will be collected once you have finished. The data will be collected and then analysed for the purpose of the research. Notes: • Your participation in this research in entirely voluntary. None of the online survey questions are obligatory. If you do not feel comfortable answering a particular question, leave it blank.

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67 • You are free to withdraw your participation from the research at any time without giving a reason. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me using the contact details below. Any use of the data collected is for the purpose of this research only. All data will remain confidential and all data will be kept secure for the duration of the research. Your data will be fully anonymised and you will not be identified in any way when the research is published.

If you have any questions regarding this research or would like more information on the topic, please contact me on: david.nichols@live.uwe.ac.uk Thank you very much for taking part in this research.

Appendix 2 James Could you please confirm that you use facebook and twitter to interact with brands? Yes I do Talk to me about a typical week of using social media Well I normally get up in the morning and the first thing I’ll do is check facebook and twitter. See what I’ve missed during the night and see what kind of news I’m waking up to. I often find I can find out more information or ‘breaking news’ on twitter because it’s normally faster than news outlets. News outlets normally write an article shortly after but more regular ‘updates’ are on facebook and twitter. I’ll normally have a look on both sites to see what has been said by the people I’m following and if there’s an article or something to click through I often do and if I think others will find it interesting I’ll retweet it so my followers can see it too, a bit like passing it on. Sometimes if I’m on a

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68 website and I see something of interest I will send it to facebook or twitter so it will appear to my followers. Sometimes there are news or something written that isn’t from twitter or facebook, but I’ll send it to facebook or twitter. Ok. What kind of brands do you follow or are fans of? They vary to be honest. I mean I follow asos as I like their clothes. Some fashion blogs I also follow. I like following bbc good food because they often have interesting updates. Companies that are on twitter I follow. So there’s a mixture really. But I would say I follow food products a lot, fashion brands, news outlets, technology and food blogs. When you see an update that interests you, how much attention do you give it? Well it depends on the brand. If it’s a brand like river island or asos, or pie minister I really want to know what’s going on. Sometimes they’ll have competitions, or offers. Sometimes there’ll be new products that I want to see. So if it’s a brand that I’m particularly interested in, I will give it more attention to it. I’ll open up a link if there is one, and retweet it with or without a link to something. Talk to me about the relationships you have with your chosen brands? I think my relationships have changed since social media has come onto the scene. Before I used facebook and twitter I would just interact with brands whenever I bought products from them. If I bought something from river island, my relationship would be based on the service I received, the quality and price of the product. But it’s different now. So many brands are on facebook and twitter that it’s a different kind of experience. There’s more information, insider information as to what the

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69 brand is up to and what it has coming up. If there’s an offer going on, I don’t have to find out about it if I happen to be going to the shop or something. If there’s a sale on somewhere, I find out about it quickly and it will more than likely encourage me to go to the shop. Some things I may have missed I won’t miss anymore. I think I have a good relationship with the brands I follow. It depends how dedicated I am to each of them. There are some brands that I like, but I wouldn’t necessarily buy from them or used their products every time. Like the body shop for example. I like the body shop, and I follow them but it doesn’t mean I’m always just going to shop there. If that makes sense. Ok great. Do you feel you trust your chosen brands and would you say you are committed to them? Is that important to you? I think that trust is really important between me and a brand. I mean me trusting them. I don’t really think about whether a brand trusts me, that’s not important. But I think I do want to be able to trust that the brands I follow are selling or offering good quality things at good prices and that they’re not doing anything illegal or unethical. I want to trust that when I buy something and it says it’s free range for example, it actually is free range. I think there’s a lot of skeptism around these days especially about big brands, but I like to keep faith that what they’re doing is honest. Honesty is really important. If companies or brands weren’t honest, then how could I trust them? I wish brands would be more transparent in their business but that’s an ideal world which we don’t live in. So transparency is something important to you? Do you think social media influences on that at all?

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70 Absolutely. Like I said it’s an ideal world. I would love to get more of an insight into the insider trading. And yeah I suppose social media does affect that. Brands and companies have to be much more careful than they used to be. If you have a bad experience, you can quickly tell potentially thousands of people by posting it onto facebook and twitter. You don’t care whether it’s going to damage your reputation, you just care that you’ve been mistreated! You won’t your friends to know and you want to let their friends know as well. It means that my bad experience might have gone under the radar, but now social media is so fast and has the potential to spread so quickly and to so many people, companies don’t have the pleasure of hoping it’ll go away. So, could you please tell me about commitment in terms of your relationships with brands? Erm… I think I’m committed to my brands yeah. Like I said earlier it depends what brand it is. There are some brands that I feel I am more connected to. I actually look forward to updates from them because I want to hear about it before anyone else. I know that’s stupid because loads of people follow them but still… it makes me feel like I’m the first to know so that means I am important. Do brands make you feel important? Yeah I think so. Depends on the situation. On twitter for example, it is easier to send messages to brands. Last week I sent a message to one of the brands I follow and they retweeted it. It meant they thought it was interesting enough to send it to all of their followers. It made me feel that my opinion mattered and that they were listening. A lot of brands that are on twitter just send out mass

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71 information and just use it for promotions, but there are a few brands that really engage in two way conversations which is great. Back to commitment, I would say I am committed to some of my brands. If I am overall pleased with the service I get and the product is great and I’ve had no customer service problems then yeah I’m committed. If I think there’s something interesting that’s come from them, I’ll send it on, which is what they want but I don’t mind that. Do you think that there needs to be a basic level of trust before you can be committed to them? Probably. Thinking about it… I don’t think anyone could be committed to a brand if you couldn’t trust them. Commitment I feel is more of an ‘act’ rather than a state of mind. Trust is something you feel, but a commitment often involves doing something like sending on information or going to use the product. I would need to feel I trusted a brand before I could remain committed to them. Otherwise I may as well just switch. What would make you switch? Erm… it depends (again). If there’s a brand like pie minister, I don’t think I would ever switch from them. They would have to do something awful for me to stop buying from them. I definitely advocate their products! I love them! If it’s another brand that I shop at or consumer sometimes, because I’m not that bothered about them, it would probably be based on price or quality. If two similar companies, like asos and river island for example. I probably like them equal amounts. But if one had a cheaper price, I’d go for that one. If I was looking for jeans for example. I think both have the same quality, but if one had a promotion I’d go with whichever. So I don’t have an absolute

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72 loyalty with either really. Hmm.. Great thanks. So…do you think that brands have a personality? I think that some brands have it instilled in them, I think others try. But yes is the answer to the question. Brands have to have a personality to connect with their customers. I probably wouldn’t like river island if they had an outdoorsy personality, or a older personality. I like river island because their clothes are cool and up to date. They know what works well together and I like their style. I suppose brand personality and style are the same thing really. The style of river island for example matches mine and that’s why I like the clothes and shop there. It makes sense for a brand to have a personality so people can recognise similarities between themselves and the brand. Is that important? Erm.. based on what I said just now yes. Pie minister are great because they offer gourmet pies at good prices. But then I could shop anywhere for pies if that was the only reason. Pie minister are local retailers and they’re humorous with their advertising. I don’t know how to put it. They’re not cheeky, but they like to talk to their customers in a way that I like. It’s not pretentious. Ok, all of that is great. Finally could you please tell me the influence that social media has had on perceptions of the brands you follow? Like I said before, social media is great for getting up to date news. I don’t have to go out to the shopping centre to find out about any deals or promotions. I think that social media closes the gap between the idea that brands aren’t human. Social media gives brands a human voice. They can

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73 interact with you. I mean all brands are different in the way they do it, but it gives us as a consumer a chance to speak to them in an informal way. I mean I wouldn’t want to email a company just to say I’d bought something from them and was really enjoying it! But on social media you feel you can. I always tweet pie minister if I’ve just gone for one with a mate. I might even take a picture and send it to them! I know that’s not really important and probably no one cares. But it’s nice when they tweet back saying ‘hope you enjoyed’ or something. I dunno, it’s just a nice way of finding out information and being able to tell them what you think or tell others about what’s going on with that brand.

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Sarah Firstly could you please confirm that you use facebook and twitter to interact with brands? Yes I do. Firstly could you talk through a typical week of your use of social media? I have the twitter app on my blackberry so once I’ve checked my emails in the morning I’m on the tube and I’m onto twitter on my blackberry to see what the news is for the day. See what people have got to say. And then once I’m in work I open up tweetdeck so I’ve got the twitter feed going on all day so I can keep a continual eye on twitter and I’ll regularly check facebook throughout the day too. What do you do on twitter? How you engage with twitter? My chosen brands are changing all the time. As I work within social media, social listening is high on the agenda really for me. I do it on a personal level, looking at brands I’m interested in. for example waterstones is a big favourite for me erm… lots of book things and travel things. I’m looking at what people are saying and how they’re saying it, how they’re making it work. The industries that you follow are book and travel. Yeah I mean I follow vue cinema as well because I’m a movie fan and that’s great because most of their updates are film reviews actually. It’s quite an interesting one because I mean I’m not sure how

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75 people they have on their team… it must be about 4 or 5 and sort of between them they go and watch the films and then pop on reviews on twitter. When you’re on twitter and you see an update, how much attention do you give it? It depends on the kind of update. But if it’s something like a review, I’ll normally click through and read whatever it is or the full on review and then I’m likely to retweet it and add a comment. Via tweetdeck I’m able to alter the text so I can add my own comment. Sometimes with waterstones they’ll just update with ‘this is happening in Piccadilly lalala’ because they’re based in London and being a Londoner I see that as more of a personal update rather than a brand update. I do like a good @reply. I’m quite good at retweeting and mentioning brands. Talk to me about your relationships with those brands you follow? I feel like I have a relationship with waterstones because I practically stalk them. Erm… I will try and engage in them quite a lot because a) they have a lot of competitions and I have bought a lot of books from them but overall I think they are a really engaging brand because they will talk back to you. They’re not one of those brands that will put a load of stuff on twitterfeed and ignores anyone that responds to them. Waterstones do tend to follow you back or get a ‘follow Friday’ if I’ve interacted with them that week. Do you think it’s important to engage with followers rather than just send them mass communication? I do and I think… with some accounts it’s like ‘we’re just here for competitions and giveaways and

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76 you sort of think that’s fine but if there are some who are there for more than that then I would certainly expect them to be more engaging and if they don’t then I kind of feel that I’m bored of you now you’re not playing by the twitter game. Often, straight promotion with nothing else doesn’t go down that well on twitter and I think that’s what you should use facebook for or you own actual website. I don’t think it works very well on twitter space. This is it…. There’s been a lot of conversations recently as to whether twitter is good at assisting with customer services with certain brands. I have a personal experience of this because I ordered a mug for my mum’s birthday from emma Bridgwater. My mum loves them and I ordered this mug and I was able to track it online, or in theory I was able to track it online. When I went to sign in after having two weeks of it not arriving I couldn’t log into my account and I spoke to customer services and they were like ‘oh right’ and didn’t do anything. I was like can you help me log into my account? I wanted to log in so I could track my parcel and they were like ‘oh right’… so then I suggested that they speak to parcel force to find out what had happened to my parcel and they were like ok why don’t we do that. They come back with ‘parcel force have come back and said they delivered it’. And I said that’s no good to me because it’s not here! So then I suggested they go back and find out who it’s been left with by the signature and it all turned out it was left with the neighbour. I had to make all the suggestions and they were completely useless. The first thing I decided to do was to bitch on twitter and their webmaster actually called me within about ten minutes after seeing it on twitter.

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He wanted to know what had happened and asked if I could explain the whole thing and said it was awful and he said someone will call you back later. No one called me back later but the next day they sent me a free mug and a little tag apologising for the trauma. Which was great. It sort of, I hadn’t gone on twitter to get a response but I was really annoyed I put them in my twitter update and put something along the lines of ‘I’m not happy with emma bridgwater’s customer service’. I think a lot of brands go and charge in and go about it in the wrong way. Do you think that experience hampered your relationship? Well to begin with I didn’t feel I had much of a relationship with them. I mean I was following them on twitter because I know my mum likes them. I was keeping an eye on them to see if there was anything special. I had an opinion on them because I knew my mum liked them but that experience with the customer service completely turned me off and I was like you’re a bunch of… I know they ship out nationally and internationally and they are quite a small business but for me to go on twitter I think they saw I had something to say. It was great that they decided to listen. The webmaster was really understanding and actually listened to what I had to say so I think yeah I think their customer service was awful but the fact that they got back to me and made the effort with the gift and the card… it definitely changed my opinion after that so they definitely redeemed themselves. Describe what trust and commitment mean to you in terms of your relationships with those brands?

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78 I think waterstones is my mecca. They have some great loyalty schemes and the one thing they are good at is customer service and I can’t imagine ever have any kind of problems or issues so you know it is important that there is a trust between me and the brand because as soon as I have that feeling that they’re trying to screw me over and that’s the point where I get angry and go on to twitter to vent. Obviously I do want my brands to be ethical and don’t want to hear that they’re abusing children in foreign countries. And things like that can proliferate so quickly so I wanna keep a bit of an eye on them to make sure what they’re doing. Do you think that trust and commitment need to be intact in order to build and maintain a brand relationship? I think they do, even at a basic level. Like herbal essences the shampoo and conditioner brand for example. I like them because I feel they are committed to working on the product and I think it’s a good product and what I quite like is that they’ve built the shampoo and conditioner to fit together which is nice. But I stay with them because the product works well and I trust them as a brand and therefore I am committed to them. Just on a basic level but I think you’re right but I think they both need to be there before there can be any kind of relationship. Otherwise you’re just judging them on face value or whatever you hear in the media. Can you think of examples of brands that have dealt with something brilliantly? Hmm… that’s difficult because do you remember the good experiences as much as the bad ones? I mean I like waterstones because I like their updates and I feel I’m getting a good value customer

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79 experience and keeping my brand loyalty by engaging with them. If I do come across a brand that I feel is doing it wrong that I will just stop following them so they don’t stay in my consciousness for very long if I feel they’re not doing it right. Do you feel that brands have a personality? That’s very difficult answering that objectively. I do feel that brands have a personality and I think the whole point of social media is to display that personality. Some brands or companies can be seen as these big corporations that own a lot of brands and seen as a corporate face of doom. Coke are quite good actually in showing their brand personality from what they do in advertising, from the social media like particularly on facebook. They’re always bringing out the fun element of the brand and really getting people to engage. There’s a lot of ‘uploading your own content’ which is a great way of interacting with the brand and getting people to stay committed to the brand. Thinking of brand personality and how far brands go to meet that perception of the brand on social media…. It’s almost like giving the brand a human face. Then you sort of feel like I don’t mind in them taking my money. They seem personable which is great. Is there anything else that I haven’t mentioned you’d like to say? I think it’s also nice… you don’t always see it but I do like it when brands start to interact with each other. I’ve definitely seen Innocent are one brand I follow. They certainly are keen to be interacting with other brands and having a general chat on twitter. Brand environments are normally so

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80 compeititive but I think it’s great to break down those barriers and engage in a conversation to learn from other brands, sharing ideas so that we’re making the best product, offering the best customer service. Because you can see what everyone else is doing it’s quite easy to do that. Publications are brands in themselves and seeing them interact is great because they can be very competitive especially if they’re going for a particular market.

Allen Firstly can I please confirm that you use social media to interact with brands for example facebook and twitter? Yes I do

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81 Could you please name the social media platforms that you currently use? I use facebook, twitter, in the past I’ve used myspace. I still occasionally use it. That’s it really. Ok. Talk to me about a typical week of your use of social media. Pretty much every day I will log on to facebook or twitter seeing whats happening with everything. See what news is out there. I think twitter is probably the easiest option if you’re after quick news. That’s it really, interacting with people. Ok. How long would you say you used social media every day, per week? With the advent with smart phones its easier to access facebook and twitter all the time. You more go on quickly to check.. every hour really. You go and check to see what updates there are and if there’s a big news you check more often to keep yourself in the loop. I probably use facebook and twitter for a good few hours a day? I think that most people do. Ok, so what kinds of brands do you follow on twitter and facebook? On facebook it tends to be more like tv shows. I discount facebook as really the way to go. But people like twitter I follow nasa, magazines, bands I like to follow. I follow a lot of restaurants actually.

If you wouldn’t mind summing up the industries, what industries would you say you looked at? On twitter I would say restaurants and news outlets. On facebook I would probably say I would follow more…well.. tv shows I suppose to be honest.

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82 That’s fine, do you follow brands to keep yourself updated with what brands might be doing? I follow… kind of like… technology brands. I follow o2, apple, I follow twitter as well so they keep me updated with what’s going on. Ok. So, thinking about those different brands, when you go onto facebook and twitter, which updates are you looking for from particular brands? Do you have a top 5? Ok. I like looking for updates from o2, from apple.. erm… I like to get updates from… I like getting updates from giraffe the restaurant. I like updates from sky news because they seem to be good at getting breaking news on twitter. BBC news. Could you explain why? I like getting updates from o2 because they give you updates on their network which I’m a part of. Apple because I like their technology and interested in what they’re doing. Giraffe because I like their food and it’s nice to hear from them. Sky news like I said… any breaking news they seem to tweet it instantly and BBC news because I like their style of reporting. When you see an update that interests you, what are your actions after seeing an update? I’ll read it, if it’s got a link to expand on an article and then read the article as well and if I feel that it’s a good article and I think others would also be interested in it, I’ll retweet it so others can see it too. Do you feel you paid attention to click through every brand you follow? Erm… I tend to concentrate on the ones that I’ve just mentioned. I normally scroll through and if I see an update from those I’ve mentioned I’ll stop and read it. Do you think you would give the brands you mentioned equal attention?

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83 Yes Ok. So tell me about your trust towards those brands you follow. I like to think I can trust them because if I didn’t trust them I don’t think I would be following them. I think you need to have some degree of trust in the brand to give them that much attention. Are there brands that aren’t necessarily on social media that you would say you trust? Erm… do you mean like erm… well… I suppose so because I don’t follow Microsoft and I trust their products. I use windows at home on my PC, but I don’t actually follow them on social media. Same question about commitment towards a brand. Do you feel you have a commitment to those brands because you trust them? I feel I have a commitment to o2 and apple because I use their services and products and therefore I feel a sense of commitment there. I suppose with the news outlets, erm… I don’t think it’s commitment on my part, but you do feel like they’re giving you the information you require and you feel you have to go to them to get it. In terms of how to you interact with your chosen brands, could you describe what trust means to you? Trust to me is giving the correct information to the users, erm.. making sure all the facts are right and being truthful. If something’s gone wrong they need to say it’s gone wrong and don’t fluff over it with something that’s not right. If you find out they haven’t done something right, you kind of lose a bit of trust in them and I feel they need to be honest with you. Ok. Do you think it’s just as important for brands to be transparent in their business because of

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84 things like social media now? Yes definitely because there’s… with things like facebook the second anything goes bad with someone, a group will be made… the issue will spread as more people join that group and companies have to really redeem themselves. Can you think of any examples of companies having to deal with things like this? Well with the whole thing with apple… they’ve had some bad press with their new product iphone 4. They said ‘don’t hold it that way’. It spread like wildfire and it was all over facebook and twitter, forums and blogs. It literally spiralled for them to the point where they had no choice but to investigate those claims. You sound like you have quite an emotional attachment to them in that you trust them and you’re committed to them as a brand, but would you say that’s right? Yes. I think we’ve got a good relationship. I only have one product with apple. But it works well and I think it works brilliantly and I would definitely want to buy more products from them. When brands like apple do something wrong, how does that make you feel? Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you deal with those mistakes that make people either still like them or move on from them. What could they have done better? Instead of brushing over the issue with the antenna, they could’ve immediately said they would investigate the problem and we’ll come back to you as soon as we can with what we’ve found rather than it going on for a couple of months before they even acknowledge that there might be an issue

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85 and I think that damaged them professionally. How exactly did it damage them? It made me feel that they don’t …. They felt at that point that they knew better and I think only now they’re starting to realise they need to listen to their customers more as they’re the ones using the products. Have you got any good examples? stop I’ve really liked… recently giraffe restaurants. They had a bit of an issue with one of their restaurants and they were constantly updating the twitter feed with what the problem was and what they were doing to fix it and I thought it was really good that they were keeping their customers in the loop at all times. I think that’s really important when you’re dealing with customers that they’re being kept in the loop. How did that make you feel? It made me trust them because I knew they weren’t lying about anything or hiding any element of the problem. Ok. So you trust them, did that lead to anything further in terms of the relationship with the brand? It makes me want to go there more. Ok. Thinking about the different traits that the brand has/have. Do you feel that brands have a personality? Erm… yeah because each brand has their own identity and they’ve got to live up to that identity I suppose. You know whether they’re professional, or fun and outgoing. They have to keep up with that personality or identity.

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86 Thinking about one of your chosen brands, could you please think of what that brand personality means to you? Erm… if I take BBC for example. Obviously it’s a news outlet so they’ve got to be professional but I think they really do live up to that. Their tweets are to the point and their professionalism does show through the wording they use. Any others? Giraffe. It’s a fun and friendly restaurant and the tweets they do come across in that. They seem like a regular person. It’s almost as if they’re speaking just to you, rather than a thousand people. It’s almost a one on one and I think that’s nice. How does that make you feel? It makes me feel like it’s a conversation between two people and I like that kind of intimate setting shall we say? You would prefer brands to be more involved in the two way communication rather than the one way mass communication? How would you like your chosen brands to interact with you? Say they’ve said something in an update and you’ve replied to them and you ask them a question back, a lot of places won’t respond individually. They won’t reply to your question. And with some brands I think it’s good when you can see they’ve taken the time to speak to them and I think they should at least respond in some way. Whether it’s a retweet or responding so you know they’ve seen your update. Could you please tell me about the influence you think social media has had on your perception of a

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87 chosen brand? Erm… it’s certainly a lot easier to interact with brands because of twitter. More brands will use twitter than any other social media platform because it’s a quick way of getting updates or information out there. And erm… it certainly makes everyone more accessible. Do you think that.. what you say you had a relationship with each brand that you follow? Yes because if I was to recommend. Say if someone was to come up to me and say do you know any nice restaurants to go to I would definitely say giraffe because a) they do nice food, but also because they come across as a caring restaurant and they seem to care about their customers. It kind of comes through on their tweets. Is the quality of food enough to get you to go to the restaurant? Do you think quality can be overcome by the relationship you have with a brand? The product has got to be good. You can’t advocate something just purely about the fact they write cool messages on twitter. The product has to be good enough for you to get it. You can do as much marketing as you want in the world but at the end of the day the quality has got to be good. I’d say it’s equal between relationship and quality. Whilst the products may be good, if you don’t have much faith in the company as a whole you may only get the product once and never go back. You need a relationship to sustain business. Any other comments? I certainly enjoy having the interaction. It’s a lot better now because you only had email or writing or phoning. But now you can spread the word of a brand with one sentence. I think that’s important for

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88 us not only as consumers but it’s good for brands. While we can interact with each other, likeminded folk can also interact like a community. Is that important? Yes because in a community it can sway your perception of things as you know. If a lot of people like it, it makes you think it must be really good. You start looking into it and you start building a relationship with that brand. But at the same time it can go the other way. If negative comments will hinder your opinion of a brand and that can spread too.

Appendix 3 Questionnaire The impact of social media on trust, commitment and brand relationships

Q1 Do you use Facebook AND/OR Twitter to follow brands or products? These can be food e.g. marmite, clothing e.g. ASOS, magazines e.g. Heat, businesses e.g. Sainsburys etc. Please note that selecting 'No' will end the questionnaire.  Yes (1)  No (2)

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89 Q2 Are you over 18?  Yes (1)  No (2)

Q3 How many brands do you follow/are fans of?  0-10 (1)  11-25 (2)  26-35 (3)  36-50 (4)  50+ (5)

Q4 What kinds of brands do you follow/are fans of? Please tick all that apply  Food and Drink (1)  Leisure and entertainment (2)  Clothing (3)  Lifestyle e.g. magazines (4)  Service (5)  All of the above (6)

Q5 How often do you check Facebook and/or twitter?  Less than Once a Month (1)  Once a Month (2)  2-3 Times a Month (3)  Once a Week (4)  Up to 5 times a day (5)  More than 5 times a day (6)

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90 Q6 When you see an update from your chosen brand that you follow, how much attention do you give it/them?  Skim read with no further action (1)  Read in detail and click through for more (2)  Read in detail, click through and forward to others (3)  Other (4)

Q7 Do you send messages to your chosen brands?  Never (1)  Less than Once a Month (2)  Once a Month (4)  2-3 Times a Month (5)  Once a Week (6)  2-3 Times a Week (7)  Daily (8)

Q8 What are the messages regarding? Tick all that apply  Product enquiry (1)  Reply to an update (2)  Ask a question (3)  A 'mention' (4)  A general comment (5)  n/a (6)

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91 Q9 What makes the updates interesting to you? Tick all that apply  I'm interested in the brand (1)  I want to be kept updated (2)  I like to be the first to hear news (3)  It enables brands to interact with me (4)  I can show I like that brand to others (5)  I can tell others through social media about a brand (6)

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92 Q11 How far do you believe your chosen brands to have a 'brand personality'?  A great deal (1)  A fair amount (2)  Lacking personality (3)  Little or no personality (4) Q12 How far do you agree with these statements? Please choose one per statement Strongly Agree (1) The updates I receive from my chosen brand match its' personality (1) The personality of the brands I follow are similar to me (2) I trust this brand because they are similar to me (3) I want to maintain the relationship with the brand because they are similar to me (4) Agree (2) Neutral (3) Disagree (4) Strongly disagree (5)

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93 Q13 Is trust between you and your chosen brand important to you?  Extremely Important (1)  Very Important (2)  Neither Important nor Unimportant (3)  Very Unimportant (4)  Not at all Important (5)

Q14 How far do you agree with these statements? Please choose one per statement Strongly agree (1) I trust the brands I follow/are fans of (1) My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own (2) There are times when I can't trust my brand (3) My brand is perfectly honest and truthful with me (4) My brand is truly sincere in its promises (5) Agree (2) Neutral (3) Disagree (4) Strongly disagree (5) 

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94 Q15 How far do you agree with these statements? Please choose one per statement Strongly agree (1) I am committed to maintaining my relationship with this brand (1) I imagine having a relationship with this brand several years from now (2) I feel emotionally attached to my chosen brands (3) My life would be disrupted if I switched away from my brand (4) Agree (2) Neutral (3) Disagree (4) Strongly disagree (5)

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95 Q17 If you were to switch brands, what would make you switch? Please rank with 1 being most important to you. ______ Price (1) ______ Quality (2) ______ Service (3) ______ Brand personality (4) ______ Design (5) ______ Use of social media (6)

Q20 How old are you?  18-25 (1)  26-34 (2)  35-54 (3)  55-64 (4)  65 and over (5) ____________________

Q23 What is your gender?  Male (1)  Female (2)

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96 Q24 What is your occupation?  Top Management (1)  Senior management (2)  Lower management (3)  Entry level (4)  Self employed (5)  Unemployed (6)  Student (7)

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97

Appendix 4 SPSS raw data

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Correlations
Q14_1_2How far do you agree with these Q14_1_1How far do you Q6When you see an update from your chosen brand that you follow, how much attention do you give it/the... Q6When you see an update from your chosen brand that you follow, how much attention do you give it/the... Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of Q14_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-There are times Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .162 .158 77 -.133 .250 77 -.048 .681 77 77 1 -.133 .248 77 -.016 .887 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N -.316** .005 77 .432** .000 77 77 1 -.048 .681 77 .425** .000 77 .521** .000 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N -.214 .061 77 77 1 .432** .000 77 -.133 .250 77 .470** .000 77 .526** .000 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N 82 1 agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of -.214 .061 77 statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own -.316** .005 77 Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-There are times when I can't trust my brand .162 .158 77 Q14_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is perfectly honest and truthful with me -.240* .035 77 Q14_1_5How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is truly sincere in its promises -.211 .066 77

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99

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Correlations
Q14_1_2How far do you agree with these Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per Q5How often do you check Facebook and/or twitter? Q5How often do you check Facebook and/or twitter? Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of Q14_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .120 .300 77 .432** .000 77 77 1 -.048 .681 77 .425** .000 77 .521** .000 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N 82 .065 .574 77 77 1 statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of .065 .574 77 1 statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own .120 .300 77 .432** .000 77 Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-There are times when I can't trust my brand .236* .039 77 -.133 .250 77 Q14_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is perfectly honest and truthful with me .076 .509 77 .470** .000 77 Q14_1_5How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is truly sincere in its promises .222 .052 77 .526** .000 77

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Correlations
Q14_1_2How far do you agree with Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of Q14_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-There are times when I can't trust my brand Q14_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is perfectly honest and truthful with me Q14_1_5How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is truly sincere in its promises Q4_2What kinds of brands do you follow/are fans of? Please tick all that applyPearson Correlation -.043 -.345** -.005 .083 .035 1 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .526** .000 77 .521** .000 77 -.016 .887 77 .718** .000 77 77 1 .035 .766 76 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .470** .000 77 .425** .000 77 -.133 .248 77 77 1 .718** .000 77 .083 .474 76 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N -.133 .250 77 -.048 .681 77 77 1 -.133 .248 77 -.016 .887 77 -.005 .963 76 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .432** .000 77 77 1 -.048 .681 77 .425** .000 77 .521** .000 77 -.345** .002 76 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N 77 1 these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own .432** .000 77 Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-There are times when I can't trust my brand -.133 .250 77 Q14_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is perfectly honest and truthful with me .470** .000 77 Q14_1_5How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is truly sincere in its promises .526** .000 77 Q4_2What kinds of brands do you follow/are fans of? Please tick all that apply-Leisure and entertainment -.043 .714 76

Sig. (2-tailed)

.714

.002

.963

.474

.766

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Correlations
Q14_1_2How far do you agree with these Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of Q14_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-There are times when I can't trust my brand Q14_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .470** .000 77 .425** .000 77 -.133 .248 77 77 1 .718** .000 77 -.171 .137 77 -.260* .023 77 -.072 .534 77 .024 .835 77 .073 .530 77 -.116 .317 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N -.133 .250 77 -.048 .681 77 77 1 -.133 .248 77 -.016 .887 77 .108 .349 77 .151 .190 77 .029 .799 77 -.067 .564 77 .050 .664 77 .105 .363 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .432** .000 77 77 1 -.048 .681 77 .425** .000 77 .521** .000 77 -.023 .840 77 -.252* .027 77 -.263* .021 77 -.224 .050 77 .174 .131 77 -.049 .674 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N 77 1 statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own .432** .000 77 Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-There are times when I can't trust my brand -.133 .250 77 Q14_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is perfectly honest and truthful with me .470** .000 77 Q14_1_5How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is truly sincere in its promises .526** .000 77 Q9_1What makes the updates interesting to you? Tick all that apply-I'm interested in the brand -.273* .016 77 Q9_2What makes the updates interesting to you? Tick all that apply-I want to be kept updated -.327** .004 77 Q9_3What makes the updates interesting to you? Tick all that apply-I like to be the first to hear news -.255* .025 77 Q9_4What makes the updates interesting to you? Tick all that apply-It enables brands to interact with me -.189 .100 77 Q9_5What makes the updates interesting to you? Tick all that apply-I can show I like that brand to others .076 .509 77 Q9_6What makes the updates interesting to you? Tick all that apply-I can tell others through social media about a brand -.229* .045 77

104

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Correlations
Q15_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I am committed to maintaining my relationship with this brand Q15_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I am committed to maintaining my relationship with this brand Q15_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I imagine having a relationship with this brand several years from now Q15_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I feel emotionally attached to my chosen brands Q15_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) .358** .001 .356** .001 .531** .000 1 -.297** .009 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .390** .000 77 .316** .005 77 77 1 .531** .000 77 -.271* .017 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .703** .000 77 77 1 .316** .005 77 .356** .001 77 -.132 .252 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N 77 1 Q15_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I imagine having a relationship with this brand several years from now .703** .000 77 Q15_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I feel emotionally attached to my chosen brands .390** .000 77 Q15_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My life would be disrupted if I switched away from my brand .358** .001 77 Q6When you see an update from your chosen brand that you follow, how much attention do you give it/the... -.272* .017 77

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Correlations
OverallTrust OverallTrust Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Engagement Pearson Correlation 77 -.235* 1 Engagement -.235* .040 77 1

Sig. (2-tailed)

.040

N

77

87

*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

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Correlations
OverallTrust OverallTrust Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Engagement Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Commitment Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Brandpersonality Pearson Correlation 77 -.235* .040 77 .463
**

Engagement 1 -.235* .040 77 1

Commitment .463** .000 77 -.278* .015 87 77 1

Brandpersonality .395** .000 77 -.255* .023 79 .283* .013 77 77 1

-.278

*

.000 77 .395**

.015 77 -.255*

.283*

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

.023

.013

N

77

79

77

79

*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

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Correlations
Brandpersonality Brandpersonality Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Commitment Pearson Correlation 79 .283* 1 Commitment .283* .013 77 1

Sig. (2-tailed)

.013

N

77

77

*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

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Correlations
Q14_1_2How far do you agree with these Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of Q14_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust the brands I follow/are fans of Q14_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N -.133 .250 77 -.048 .681 77 77 1 -.133 .248 77 -.016 .887 77 -.181 .114 77 -.254* .026 77 -.154 .180 77 -.054 .643 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .432** .000 77 77 1 -.048 .681 77 .425** .000 77 .521** .000 77 .453** .000 77 .279* .014 77 .264* .020 77 .330** .003 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N 77 1 statements? : Please choose one per statement-My chosen brand is equally interested in my welfare as much as its own .432** .000 77 Q14_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-There are times when I can't trust my brand -.133 .250 77 Q14_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is perfectly honest and truthful with me .470** .000 77 Q14_1_5How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My brand is truly sincere in its promises .526** .000 77 Q15_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I am committed to maintaining my relationship with this brand .504** .000 77 Q15_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I imagine having a relationship with this brand several years from now .348** .002 77 Q15_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I feel emotionally attached to my chosen brands .285* .012 77 Q15_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-My life would be disrupted if I switched away from my brand .206 .072 77

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Correlations
Q12_1_4How far do you Q12_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statementThe updates I receive from my chosen brand match its' personality Q12_1_1How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-The updates I receive from my chosen brand match its' personality Q12_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-The personality of the brands I follow are similar to me Q12_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust this brand because they are similar to me Q12_1_4How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I want Pearson Correlation .240* .674** .808** 1 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .215 .059 78 .743** .000 77 78 1 .808** .000 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N .183 .110 78 78 1 .743** .000 77 .674** .000 77 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N 79 1 Q12_1_2How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statementThe personality of the brands I follow are similar to me .183 .110 78 Q12_1_3How far do you agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I trust this brand because they are similar to me .215 .059 78 agree with these statements? : Please choose one per statement-I want to maintain the relationship with the brand because they are similar to me .240* .034 78

Sig. (2-tailed)

.034

.000

.000

N

78

77

77

78

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