REVISITING ANTECEDENTS OF BRAND LOYALTY: IMPACT OF PERCEIVED SOCIAL MEDIA COMMUNICATION WITH BRAND TRUST AND BRAND EQUITY AS MEDIATORS.

Author:Khadim, Rizwan Ali
Position:Report - Statistical data
 
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INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

The rapid growth of information technology has brought revolution in social media communications. Moreover, it has replaced traditional media in corporate communications (Coulter, Bruhn, Schoenmueller & Schafer, 2012; Khadim, Zafar & Younis, 2015). Since, the advent of social media networks, it is building and expanding significant ways to attract users all over the globe. Social networking sites not only give an opportunity for consumers to connect with others, rather, it provides users to interact with their target audience better thus making a brand community where brand managers and marketers can communicate more efficiently regarding their brands (Dutta, 2013; Ismail, 2017). On the other hand, these social media communication strategies also provide opportunities for learning customer's perceptions and opinions, so making it a two-way flow of branding. As Kaplan & Haenlein (2012) rightly stated that brands are using social media networks for sponsorship and advertising of their products and services. For example, Coca-Cola is using Twitter, Instagram and other social mediums for the communication enhancement and preserving a sustaining relationship with the users.

Likewise, as in the contemporary world, social media platforms such as Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube have usually changed interaction approaches among people because people like to spend more time on social media platforms. Similarly, brand managers have also been utilizing different intermediates to create brand awareness, brand perception and to promote brands for many years and now the most popular intermediate is social media content, which is either generated by users or firms towards a specific brand and company related messages (Berthon et al., 2008). Now, social media channels encourage the value of trusting associations between brand and consumer, making it important intermediate to develop brand loyalty. Hence, it is interesting to explore the contribution of both firm created and user generated social media communication in enhancing and maintaining relationships with the customers. Moreover, investigating the possible mediating role of BT (Brand Trust) and BE (Brand Equity) in the relationship between social media communication (Firm Created & User-Generated) and BL (Brand Loyalty) makes a holistic model that is of more assets and values for the e-marketers. The empirical testing of the current model makes a unique contribution to the brand loyalty literature by not only highlighting the role of FCSMC (Firm Created Social Media Communication) and UGSMC (User-Generated Social Media Communication) in building sustained relationships with customers, but also give shared importance to brand trust and equity as mediating variables that were not explored till now in the existing marketing literature.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

Due to the swift evolution of social media communication in the development of brand communities, the brand scholars over the period gradually motivate brand owners to participate in more social media branding to make loyal customers. These suppositions are in line with the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) that explains user's behavior regarding the use of computer and other technologies to facilitate customer behavior intentions. This theory focuses on the explanation of plan to employ a particular service or technology. It points out that two variables influence an individual's attitude regarding the use of technology; perception of usefulness and other one is the use of technology. Where former defined as how useful a particular system is to improve his or her job performance, while, the latter one refers to as the rate to which the individual thinks that the utilization of the system is both physically and mentally free of effort (Ami-narh & Williams, 2012). As the principal aim of current research is to identify the factors that likely increase the brand loyalty of the customers, it is thus explicit from this theory which argues that the more the individual perceives the usefulness of the social media communication technologies the more he/she will likely to adopt these technologies. It then leads to more purchase intention of that particular brand, thus gradually enhances brand loyalty.

On the other hand, the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) explains that besides social factors (technologies adoption and perception of its usefulness) increases brand loyalty. Still, personal factors like brand trust and brand equity are equally important for customer purchase intentions (Vallerand, Pelletier, Deshaies, Cuerrier & Mongeau, 2000). Both of these frameworks provide the basis for the current study supposition about assessing the mediating role of personal factors because brand trust and brand equity maintain a time order relationship with social media communication. As obviously, firm or users had to create social media communication first regarding their brand followed by the development of trust and equity among customers. In any case, the theory refers to a final behavior that in this paper is the development of brand loyalty among clients who increases the likelihood of purchasing a specific garment brand (Ami-narh & Williams, 2012).

The next section provides literature review, theoretical underpinning and research hypotheses and suggests the theoretical model of this investigation. Furthermore, the next section provides the methodology used in this study, including sample and data collection source, measurement and instrumentation and procedure for data analysis. Finally, last two parts present results and findings of the study in the light of previous studies. The final section shows conclusion, research limitations and future research recommendations for brand managers and advertisers.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Perceived Social Media Communication and Brand Trust

Social media is a group of web based application which constructs on the ultimate and basic tools of network 2.0 that allows people to communicate and share their opinions and knowledge (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010) hence, social media communication can be grouped as either firm created or users generated. Moreover, Brand Trust can be defined as feelings of satisfaction and trustworthiness held by the consumers in their communication with the firm which is now days commonly done by social media (Delgado-Ballester, Munuera- Aleman & Yague-Guillen, 2003). One of the primary purposes to build a brand trust is to attain a competitive edge and thus develop a company's performance. Brand trust is very significant for growing customers' satisfaction and loyalty of the brands on the Web (Ha, 2004) and it is governed by truthfulness and sincerity from social media communities stemmed either form firm created or user generated communication tools. These social media communities have become spaces for users to post their views and ideas, as according to a survey from e- Marketer (2014), 77% of purchasers said that they are more probable to purchase from a brand if the Chief Executive of the brand or firm uses social media and 82% will trust the brand more. (Carroll & Ahuvia, 2006; Zhou, Zhang, Su & Zhou, 2012) agree that online social communication builds up close associations and draw values from their long term interactions, which makes them trustworthy and love with the brand.

Perceived Social Media Communication and Brand Equity

According to Aaker (1991), brand equity can be defined as "A set of brand assets...

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