Businesses in the fashion industry are embracing social media as they seek to remain relevant in a marketplace that is increasingly becoming competitive. In essence, to sell more products, and hence remain relevant, businesses in this industry must not only identify, but also adopt and promote new trends. The constantly changing trends means that businesses must adapt to the demands of the market. The questions that arise in this case include; how can those in the apparel industry correctly chart and identify fashion trends? How can players in the fashion industry ensure that they appropriately respond to the demands of the market? What tools must businesses use to ‘click’ with the consumer? Social media has over the last decade become the primary information source for businesses in the highly competitive fashion industry. In addition to allowing businesses in this industry to gain access to new customers and forge closer relations with existing ones, social media has permitted customers of fashion to become more informed and educated about their products of interest, with information on how and where to get such products being readily available.
The U.K. fashion industry is no different. In the U.K., like is the case in many other developed countries, people are becoming more connected via social media – effectively meaning that information about new and existing products, their utility, and ease of access is being shared readily and widely. This offers a unique opportunity to anticipate and meet the needs of the target in a more effective way. SoLoMo marketing, a relatively new construct that seeks to integrate the Social, Location-based, and Mobile aspects of the modern customer has emerged. The present study will seek to not only define, but also identify the impact this new construct has on the U.K. fashion industry.
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Background and Context of the Research
Today’s consumers are unlike those the marketing world was accustomed to a decade ago. In essence, traditional marketers were largely inclined towards the determination of the features and benefits of products and then presenting these in promotional or marketing undertakings. Today, marketers must engage the customer more actively, via the provision of content that could aid them in the purchase and utilization of products. Unlike their yester year counterparts, consumers today are increasingly relying on social media networks to make decisions pertaining to the purchase of goods and services. Further, in addition to shopping locally, consumers are becoming keener on local content and using their mobile devices to access the relevant product and business data. SoLoMo, which is essentially an integration/fusion of ‘social’, ‘local’ and ‘mobile’, is a term being increasingly used to define this current consumer breed.
In essence, SoLoMo, in the words of Kaufman and Horton (2014, pp. 53), “represents the growing marketing trend of targeting mobile consumers based on their current location with the context of promotions designed to be shared via social networks.” As the authors further point out, the foundation of this relatively new approach to marketing lies in the social-mobile connection. This is more so the case given that a significant percentage of consumers report accessing social media via their mobile devices.
SoLoMo could be seen as a way of integrating local and social to the already existing mobile commerce arena. In essence, mobile commerce has got to do with the utilization of a mobile device for commercial transactions, using a go-between app that essentially links the seller (business entity) to the buyer (smartphone owner). There are numerous benefits a business could reap from this integration between social and local components, and mobile commerce. These include, but they are not limited to, customization of offers for the target clientele and thus the effective minimization of the gap between the target market and the product.
The ability of consumers to make use of mobile devices to make shopping decisions (founded on their social media engagements), coupled with their mobility, has effectively reconfigured the shopping experience. It is, therefore, clear that any marketer who makes use of traditional marketing approaches is likely to be disappointed. This is more so the case in the more fiercely competitive industries like the fashion industry. Last year, the UK fashion industry suffered one of its steepest declines in recent times, following a drop in footwear and clothes spending. According to Armstrong (2017), Britain is fast switching “from spending on clothes and shoes to leisure pursuits, such as eating out and holidays.” To survive the tide, and tap into unexploited opportunities, marketers in this industry must adopt a new mindset when engaging consumers. In essence, the SoLoMo approach could offer these marketers an opportunity to make use of the target clientele’s social network likes and shares as well as shopping history to offer customized coupons and deals.
1.2 Research Questions and Hypotheses
This study will seek to answer the following research questions:
Has SoLoMo marketing impacted sales of select firms in the U.K. Fashion industry?
Has SoLoMo marketing played any role on the customer retention and acquisition fronts for firms operating in the U.K. Fashion Industry?
Are customers enthusiastic or passionate about SoLoMo as a relatively new and dynamic approach to marketing?
Has SoLoMo been incorporated to a large extent into formal approaches to marketing amongst businesses in the U.K. Fashion industry?
1.3 Aims and Objectives of the Study
The aim of the present research is to identify and define the impact SoLoMo marketing has on the U.K. Fashion industry.
The present research has four specific objectives:
To identify the effect of SoLoMo marketing on firms in the U.K. Fashion industry (both startups and existing entities) on the sales and customer acquisition/retention front
To measure the effectiveness and potency of SoLoMo marketing over other approaches to marketing
To determine to what degree SoLoMo marketing has been embraced by businesses in the U.K. Fashion industry.
To estimate/define the continual viability, feasibility, and tenability of SoLoMo marketing in the U.K. Fashion industry.
1.4 Rationale of the Research
Businesses spend billions of shillings annually on promotional and marketing activities in an attempt to better engage the target audience and in the process influence the said audience’s purchase decisions. Businesses ought to ensure that the approaches to marketing adopted are not only effective but also responsive to the needs and special circumstances of the market. It is important to note that today’s marketing arena is markedly different from that of a decade or two ago. This is more so the case given that the modern consumer largely relies on social media networks to make purchase decisions. The relevance of making use of social networks as a promotional context cannot, therefore, be overstated. A study of this nature would enable marketers to better understand this new and promising marketing opportunity to operationalize the same in a more effective way.
In essence, only businesses that are swift to respond to change are likely to survive in the increasingly dynamic and competitive fashion industry. Today, smartphones have effectively placed customers only a couple of taps away from such information as where to find what they need at their convenience. It, therefore, means that amongst other things, firms that wish to remain relevant should be flexible enough to adapt by, perhaps, optimizing for local search. The findings of this study will be of great relevance to marketers and top corporate executives as they seek to enumerate the effectiveness of the social-mobile connection phenomenon as a relatively new approach to marketing.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Currently, the UK fashion industry, as Fashion United (2017) points out, employs approximately 555,000 people. In essence, “most jobs in fashion related industries are in the retail sale of clothing” (Fashion United, 2017). The U.K. fashion industry has become more competitive than ever before, with new entrants wanting a piece of the pie from the 66-billion-pound industry.
Given its size, it is little wonder that the role the UK fashion industry plays in the economy is significant. Some of the biggest players in this industry include, but they are not limited to, Next Plc., Marks & Spencer, and Burberry. Currently, the largest player in this industry, as Fashion United points out, is Next Plc., closely followed by Marks & Spencer. Both companies have a combined market value of 15.15 billion pounds.
Today, the UK fashion industry remains one of the most influential global fashion market players – largely due to its professionalism and originality, excellent cooperation between manufacturers/designers and retailers, the creative mindset of players (with the country being home to some of the world’s best fashion colleges), and a unique commercial mindset (with the global contemporary fashion marketplace being littered with fashion brands originating from the U.K.). It is, however, important to note that despite its strong and deep-rooted foundation, the U.K. fashion industry has in the recent past faced some unique challenges.
Last year, the U.K. fashion industry suffered a decline unlike any other it has had to contend with in recent times. There are various pointers to this decline - I will take into consideration two of these. To begin with, players in the U.K. fashion industry, like most other businesses in various sectors, have been hit by changing spending habits. In the words of Armstrong (2017), “while shopping used to be considered Britain’s unofficial national sport, the nation of consumerists has switched from spending on clothes and shoes to leisure pursuits, such as eating out and holidays.” Players in this industry must find ways of either reversing or exploiting this trend. Secondly, there is also the issue of Brexit, with Stevens (2017) pointing out that “many fashion retailers have suffered at the hands of Brexit vote.” With the pound taking a beating post-Brexit, the resulting inflation has meant that customers are likely to cut back their spending, with most scaling back on some fashion related purchases like designer products. During the kicking off of the Landon Fashion Week, British Prime Minister observed that fashion remains one of the country’s most important economic undertakings. It is important to point out that, however, as Stevens (2017) points out, her statement during the event did not present an optimistic picture of the industry. It should, however, be noted that although the U.K. fashion industry has encountered some turbulence in the recent past, it remains profitable for entities that embrace change and chose to put in place strategies to further enhance their competitiveness.
Still, the industry presents opportunities for the vigilant, competitive, and adaptive fashion business. There is, for instance, a growing population – effectively meaning that entities that are able to capture the imagination and tastes of buyers will carry the day. It is, however, important to note that today’s consumers of fashion are unlike their yesteryear counterparts. Information about products has become more available, effectively meaning that today’s consumers have access to more information about the products they desire, where they are located, and their utility. People are also more connected (via social media) than before – effectively meaning that they are likely to exchange experiences about certain products with their friends and associates.
Businesses that fail to embrace these new dynamics are unlikely to remain competitive going forward. In the final analysis, in addition to the identification and anticipation of the needs and requirements of customers, U.K. fashion businesses ought to satisfy the said needs and requirements in the most profitable manner possible – i.e. by adopting a new marketing paradigm.
In basic terms, marketing has got to do with educating the target market on the products and services being offered for sale and why the said products and services are better than those of competitors (Baker and Hart, 2016). There are a wide range of marketing methods that businesses, including those operating in the U.K. fashion industry, have made use of to not only educate but also influence their customers, and hence motivate them to purchase their goods and services. It is important to note that traditionally, firms in the U.K. fashion industry, like many other businesses in diverse industries have largely made use of traditional approaches to marketing – by incorporating various broadcast and print strategies to reach consumers (Heinze, Fletcher, Rashid, and Cruz, 2016). The exact methods utilized have often varied on the basis of various factors including, but not limited to the size of the business, the size and characteristic of the target market, the available marketing budget, etc. While large and medium sized entities could, as Baker and Hart (2016) observe, favor TV commercials, smaller businesses with limited budgets could adopt other approaches such as print marketing with the intention being to reach customers via newsletters or newspapers. With network TV commercials being too expensive for some smaller entities to consider, local radio advertisements have also been used in the past to reach out to customers. Traditional approaches still retain some relevance in today’s business environment. The best approach for businesses, particularly Fashion industry players, would be to pair traditional approaches to marketing with the newer and more innovative, focused, adaptive, and highly effective marketing methods and strategies. In their marketing efforts, entities operating in the U.K. fashion industry ought to ensure that their approaches to marketing not only capture the imagination of the target clientele, but also motivate the purchasing decision of the said clientele. This is where social media marketing comes in.
Social media is increasingly becoming part and parcel of our daily lives – affecting our day to day lives at both a personal and professional level. In basic terms, the marketing world has been impacted immensely with some businesses experiencing decline while others enormously benefit from the social media ‘revolution.’ By definition, social media marketing is an approach to marketing that enables commercial entities to engage with their existing and prospective customers over the internet through a variety of social media tools and applications, including, but not limited to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (Brown, 2015). Social media marketing, according to Nations (2016), makes use of the web’s social aspect so as to not only connect but also promote interactions on a dynamic and personalized level than is often the case with traditional approaches to marketing. In addition to being cheaper, social media marketing has wider reach. Further, it permits businesses to engage customers more actively through a provision of a two-way mode of interaction. This enables marketers to measure results faster and more accurately, and where necessary, adopt corrective measures or embrace the most appropriate course of action to either re-align strategies or exploit opportunities. It is important to note that unlike was the case a few decades ago, today’s business environment calls for enhanced agility. In essence, traditional approaches to marketing, as Brown (2015) points out, have largely been focused around campaigns or schemes ranging from a few months (i.e. quarterly) to a whole year. This effectively means that key developments such as shifting trends cannot be exploited as swiftly as would be appropriate in a highly competitive and dynamic business environment such as is the case in the U.K. fashion industry.
The widespread usage of mobile phones is yet again changing the conduct and approach to marketing. This, combined with the already in existence, and dynamic social media platform, has given rise to SoLoMo marketing, an acronym for Social, Local, and Mobile marketing. It is important to point out that until recently, these three components have somewhat been isolated from each other with some businesses being actively involved in location-based (geocentric) marketing undertakings while taking mobile marketing efforts as being separate from social media marketing efforts. It should be noted that unlike was the case a few years ago, today’s consumer is equipped with devices whose capabilities and processing speeds would rival those of computers of the last decade. Tablets and smartphones, as Baker and Hart (2016) observe, provide today’s consumers with a wide range of options on-the-go, with the said consumers having the power and capability to look up whatever it is that they want, where it could be found, and what others have to say about it based on their past experiences. It is with this in mind that businesses are adopting SoLoMo marketing in an attempt to reach out to the target customer in a way that is likely to be most effective, given the underlying market conditions.
SoLoMo has been defined variously by a number of authors. For purposes of this discussion, two definitions of SoLoMo will be adopted. The first definition of SoLoMo marketing, which has been highlighted in the introductory section of this paper, is offered by Kaufman and Horton. The authors observe that SoLoMo marketing, in basic terms, “represents the growing marketing trend of targeting mobile consumers based on their current location with the context of promotions designed to be shared via social networks” (Kaufman and Horton 2014, pp. 53). SoLoMo could, according to Miller (2014, pp. 515), also be defined as “a way of targeting individuals carrying mobile phones with information about nearby retailers.” Both definitions capture the three components of SoLoMo captured above, i.e. social, local, and mobile. It would be prudent to take each of these components into consideration.
The first component of SoLoMo, social, has already been extensively discussed in the preceding sections of this text. Currently, the number of social media users globally stands at 2.80 billion (Lipschultz, 2017). This, according to Lipschultz, represents a penetration rate of 37%. Today, people are finding it necessary and perhaps critical to probe online reviews before making purchase decisions, with the percentage of those who trust online reviews being on the increase. Sharing of deals from the wide range of sites focusing on local deals is also gaining prominence (Baker and Hart, 2016). The more popular such sites include LivingSocial and Groupon. Further, more consumers are using social media to follow their favorite brands, and as Baker and Hart (2016) point out, in addition to following their favorite brands online, the number of social media users who would actually make a purchase via a social media platform is on the increase. These statistics are a clear indication that the consumer of today is inherently social – and with better connectivity via social media platforms, they have the ability to not only instantaneously receive but also distribute information. This has effectively changed the way consumers seek information about a certain product, process the information, and make use of the said information.
All in all, in addition to providing consumers and business entities a discussion and engagement platform, social media enables billions of people from across the world to engage via social media networks. Marketers of today must take note of this connectedness. Key considerations in this case could include, but they are not limited to, social media advertising and marketing campaigns. In essence, fashion customers are inherently social – the reason being that they are most likely to try out new clothes and shoes for various occasions, based on what they watch on TV or see their friends wearing, etc. (Lipschultz, 2017). They are also more likely to seek the most recent trends based on the recommendations of friends or their own observations on social media sources such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. According to McDonald (2016), more than half of fashion customers have made use of at least one social media platform to make purchase decisions, on the basis of the recommendations of participants in the said platforms.
Next, we have the local component of SoLoMo. This particular component “is based on geo-targeting which allows businesses to target their marketing messages to potential customers in a specific geographical location” (Vrontis and Thrassou, 2013, pp. 360). To further enhance their competitive abilities, businesses are increasingly integrating social media platforms, search functionalities of technology devices, and mobile technology. A clothes and footwear retailer in London could, for instance, seek to be more visible to local searches within the city by making use of Google+ local. All the business has to do in this case is enhance and update its Google Local listing and it is set for optimal local visibility. There are a wide range of location-based services available to the modern consumer and in essence, these offer the said consumer the option of rating products and sharing their encounters with peers. Some of the more popular platforms or apps concerned with ‘local-search-and-discovery’ include, but they are not limited to Facebook, Around Me, Yelp, and Foursquare (McDonald, 2016). As it has already been pointed out above, most fashion customers are inherently social. In addition to users of the various location based services identified above tagging themselves at locations, the very same users are likely to leave reviews and ratings that would be accessed by others. Those that access the said reviews are more likely to base their purchase decisions on what they observe with regard to latest trends as discerned from peers etc. In essence, therefore, their searches are likely to have local intent. Fashion retailers in the know seek to further enhance their direct marketing strategy by embracing the cheaper location based marketing. According to Baker and Hughes (2016), small and medium enterprises could make use of what is referred to as Location-Based Engagement, which is, in essence, SoLoMo’s most potent tool at such a level.
The mobile component of SoLoMo largely relates to not only the capability and potential of today’s customers to readily use their tablets and mobile phones to shop, but also the mobility of the modern consumer (Vrontis and Thrassou, 2013). Unlike was the case a few decades ago, the mobile phone has now become a must have accessory that most cannot afford to leave behind. Today’s smartphones are truly ‘smart’ in the sense that they can perform a wide range of actions; from browsing the internet, to conducting online banking, to storing huge amounts of data for convenient access. Unlike is the case with traditional shopping, whereby individuals set aside a day or two for dedicated shopping, which essentially comprised of driving from one end of the city to the other looking for bargains, today’s shopping experience is entirely different. Shopping, as Vrontis and Thrassou (2013) observe, has ceased being a planned for activity and instead, it more of a spontaneous activity where individuals do not even need to leave the comfort of their homes. A customer looking for a pair of Jordan’s sneakers only needs to get a hold of their mobile phone or tablet and just Google the phrase ‘Jordan’s sneakers for sale’ and he or she will be presented with numerous options of where to purchase and at how much. Such a customer can then make a decision on the basis of the information at his or her disposal.
It is important to note, from the onset, some big fashion names are yet to fully embrace SoLoMo marketing, largely due to misplaced concerns revolving around this new approach to marketing. Next’s customers, for instance, come from diverse locations, backgrounds, and age groups. It is for this reason that the fashion firm makes use of diverse approaches in the marketing of its fashion ware. Some of the key tools of marketing the company makes use of include, but they are not limited to directory business, social media, and website sales. However, per its latest annual statement, it is clear that the business still sources most of its sales from the directory business (Lipschultz, 2017). This is an indication that the business is yet to fully integrate social media and mobile technology into its marketing efforts. What should not be lost to fashion entities such as Next is the fact that people are reacting faster to social media trends than ever before. In today’s fashion world, young men and women are adopting the trends they encounter on Instagram and other social media apps. It is for this reason that even in photography and modeling, the realities of social media are beginning to be more apparent – with photographers and models being hired on the basis of how many followers they have on Instagram and other platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook (Hope, 2016). As the author further points out, it is no longer a question of “if and when luxury brands should embrace the digital opportunity, but how they should go about doing it” (Hope, 2016).
There are various strategies fashion businesses could adopt in seeking to integrate SoLoMo marketing so as to ensure that customers are active on all three fronts of social, local, and mobile. In essence, fashion entities are becoming more accepting of SoLoMo marketing, with most making use of any of the three components of SoLoMo, but with those using all three still representing a very small portion of the entire market. It should be noted that research has indicated that a significant portion of Google searches originating from mobile devices happen to be local, with the number of those accessing social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook using mobile devices being on the rise.
Insiders in the fashion business are in agreement that SoLoMo marketing cannot be ignored. One such person is Sheena Souvaire, the global marketing director of Topshop – one of U.K.’s most popular fashion houses. Souvaire points out that while catwalk, has in essence, been traditionally influential in high fashion, social media is undeniably gaining prominence – with trends being discerned online and on the streets, rather than on the runway (Burton & Espiner, 2017). Heinemann and Gaiser (2014) observe that there is a growing trend whereby when making choices relating to fashion, young women are increasingly more likely to look up to others who look just like them. This seems to be a deviation from looking up to girls on the cover of glossy fashion magazines – with social media bringing about some sort of inclusivity. The few fashion entities that have embraced the new realities, especially the so called disruptive fashion businesses, will definitely have fast mover advantages against the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ firms.
Already, firms like Pink Boutique are aware of the changing times and as one of the firm’s top executive, Dan Arden, points out, social media has become one of the firm’s most prominent sources of inspiration for designs (Burton & Espiner, 2017). The global fashion industry is truly experiencing a revolution. Yet another fashion firm that has managed to integrate SoLoMo is Debenhams. According to the firm’s marketing director, Richard Cristofoli, today, online sales account for a fifth of the fashion firm’s total sales (Burton & Espiner, 2017). In his own words, “increasingly, people are blending the channels – they are shopping online, collecting in store, or browsing in store, and shopping on their phones” (Burton & Espiner, 2017). Yet another firm that has embraced the blurring of the line between physical and online shopping is Topshop. The company’s global marketing director observes that “we know from insight that pretty much anyone now that’s coming into our store, she’s been on our site already” (Burton & Espiner, 2017). Topshop’s global marketing director is of the opinion that “people see trends on social media, browse online, and then go into a physical store to try on clothes” (Burton & Espiner, 2017). Others that that have become more accessible to the tech savvy and social customer are Louis Vuitton and Burberry. Specifically, Burberry, a good example of a firm that has taken the sales battle online by adopting relatively creative approaches recently received widespread criticism for its appointment of Brooklyn Beckham as its flagship fragrance campaign photographer. At the time, most speculated that the younger Beckham had gotten the position out of his famous father’s intervention or good word. That was, however, not the case. As Burberry explained in the midst of the storm, Brooklyn’s selection was on the basis of his huge following on Instagram. It was “Brooklyn’s 5.9 million Instagram followers, rather than his parents, that got him the gig,” explained Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s boss (Hope, 2016). The author also speculates that it was model Kendall Jenner’s huge following on two of the world’s most popular social media platforms – Instagram and Facebook – that made cosmetics company Estee Lauder settle on her as the face of its cosmetics (Hope, 2016).
As it has been pointed out elsewhere in this text, there are some brands that are yet to change with the times on this front, despite there being clear benefits to be reaped from embracing the social media and more so going the SoLoMo way. Fashion companies stand to benefit intensely from social media with the most obvious benefit being reduced costs as SoLoMo marketing involves cheaper dynamics than is the case with print and broadcast marketing. Yet another key benefit of SoLoMo marketing in this present day and age, as Vrontis and Thrassou (2013) point out, is that it is not only more realistic than other approaches, but it is also much more subjective. Brands can no longer take social media and mobile technology for granted and remain to be competitive. As a matter of fact, SoLoMo’s prominence will continue to grow as far as customers of fashion products continue to actively make use of social media as a basis for their decisions as to whether or not to make a purchase. Further, the fact that consumers are increasingly utilizing their mobile devices such as smart phones to track the closest seller is only going to enhance the relevance of SoLoMo. For fashion businesses that are yet to have social media and mobile technology at the center of their marketing campaigns, it is not too late. This is more so the case given that, as Baker and Hughes (2016) observe, this interesting digital revolution is still in its infancy. In addition to being simple to implement, the SoLoMo marketing strategy has proven to be quite successful in both customer acquisition and customer retention (McDonald, 2016).
The advent of SoLoMo calls for businesses to be more innovative in their approach to customer acquisition. This they can do by essentially micro-targeting those that they would wish to reach out to with content that is not only contextually-relevant, but also framed in a way that integrates with social media tools and platforms. This is particularly the case given that for convenience’s sake, most consumers are finding it necessary to make use of various applications to fuse or blend their mobile devices with their physical location as well as social media platforms (Dahl, 2015). Fashion retailers that adopt SoLoMo could be said to have an effective and efficient strategy of netting the modern customer. This is more so the case given that as has been demonstrated elsewhere in this text, there is no better way to deliver promotional info than via the utilization of mobile apps. In addition to permitting businesses to directly engage their customers, this further enhances customer care efforts as businesses are able to reconcile key data relating to customer needs and opinions. It is also important to note that, as Brown (2016) points out, those businesses that fully embrace SoLoMo also secure their market from new entrants and existing competitors, as in effect, SoLoMo marketing builds switching costs due to the fact that the business-consumer engagement established as a result is hard to ‘infiltrate.’
In the final analysis, it is apparent that social media has a significant impact on the global fashion business, and in particular, the U.K. fashion industry. This is a trend that is likely to continue going forward. Thanks to social media, most people, as Holmes (2015) points out, are now able to not only access content but also interact with the content creators in a more vivid and exiting way. In the past, consumers had to peruse the pages of glossy magazines or visit brick and mortar fashion houses to uncover the trends and styles of the times. Today, things are different – all one has to do is have access to a mobile device, internet connectivity, and login credentials to any one of the most popular social media platforms, i.e. Instagram. From here, one is able to identify what’s trending, why it’s trending, and where to find what’s trending. The writing is on the wall for businesses that would wish to remain competitive in the increasingly competitive fashion marketplace.
Chapter 3: Research Methodology
3.1 Research Method
The present study made use of paper questionnaires, with a pre-coded questionnaire format being adopted. Participants comprised of different cross section of the society living in the U.K., belonging to varied ethnicities, education classes, gender, ages, and cultures. In total, 100 respondents were selected. Specifically, the research strategy adopted by the present study is exploratory. Exploratory research, in basic terms, “refers to broad-ranging, intentional, systematic data collection designed to maximize discovery of generalizations based on description and direct understanding of an area of social or psychological life” (Given, 2008, pp. 327). These studies come in handy when the situation under consideration is not very clear or when the available information is inadequate with regard to how similar situations have been handled in the past. Although several studies have been conducted in the past on how social media impacts business particularly with regard to customer acquisition and retention, SoLoMo marketing, more specifically in the selected arena of fashion, is a relatively new construct in the field of marketing. This approach suits the purpose of our research, given that the present study adopts exploratory studies with the utilization of questionnaires incorporating a set of questions deemed necessary in seeking to identify and define the impact SoLoMo marketing has on the U.K. Fashion industry.
Given the limited time, we settled on a single technique, although several techniques would have been more appropriate in seeking to enhance the validity of the results. This will be identified as one of the present study’s limitations. Precoded questions, according to Lavrakas (2008), “refer to survey items for which response categories may be identified and defined exhaustively, or very nearly so, prior to data collection activities.” In essence, therefore, the questionnaire questions we developed already have responses – it is these responses that will be coded to these questions. Data will, in this case, be easy and quick to inspect/examine.
3.4 Reliability and Validity
The relevance of validity and reliability when it comes to proving a study’s scientific relevance cannot be overstated. Creswell (2003) is of the opinion that to enhance reliability and validity, the credibility as well as authenticity of a study should always be maintained. Validity could either be external or internal, with internal validity, as Creswell (2003) points out, being the extent to which a study’s results reflect reality, and the degree to which the researchers accomplish their intended goal. External validity, on the other hand, has got to do with the extent to which the present study’s findings can be applied in different scenarios. This particular research set about to avail generalizable findings that could be pertinent to other scenarios relating to how SoLoMo marketing has impacted the U.K. Fashion industry. Given the limited time, we settled on a single technique, although several techniques would have been more appropriate in seeking to enhance the validity of the results. As Bryman (2012) points out, external and internal validity is positively influenced by the utilization of multiple methods of data collection.
Reliability, on the other hand, has got to do with the ability of a study to be repeated and the very same results achieved (Creswell, 2003). The fact that social media is a fast evolving concern means that it may be difficult to replicate the present study and come to the very same conclusions. Our personal and professional bias during interpretation could also affect this study’s reliability. The risk for this happening has, however, been reduced via the adoption of a theoretical framework that is well elaborated. Also, to further enhance the reliability of the study, some of the questionnaire items were espoused from past, but similar studies. The utilization of a pre-coded questionnaire format may also limit the validity and reliability of data because in essence, the choice of answers imposed by the researcher is largely limited. The respondent’s social reality may, therefore, not be accurately captured or reflected.
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