The aim of this study was to examine the importance of equestrian social media influencers in achieving brand loyalty and increasing purchase intention, as part of a brand’s marketing strategy. Examining the existing literature demonstrated that social influencers are an evergrowing aspect of a brand’s marketing approaches, building on the basic marketing blocks of the 4Ps, and bringing them into the 21st century, online. Comparisons were also made with offline marketing methods, such as sponsorship, and the role it plays in developing brand loyalty and increasing purchase intention, to gain a rounded approach into understanding the importance of influencers today.
This study involved the collection of qualitative primary data through a serious of telephone interviews; two were with representatives from equine brands Spillers and Bibeaz, and the remaining 10 were with potential consumers, to provide reasoning from both sides of the arguments. The collection of this data enabled thematic analysis to occur, whereby key themes were identified. This provided key data into understanding the participants’ views on social influencers as a marketing method, or whether offline methods remain more effective.
The results indicated that social influencers have an active role to play in society, building a brand’s loyalty and purchase intention rates. Overall, the consumers unanimously agreed that social influencers are a great asset for a brand, provided they are able to build on what a brand already has, and not use it as an opportunity to build their own personal brand. The participants believed that the most effective influencers are those that are genuine, whether relatable or aspirational, but that a level of personal interaction from a brand is still essential. As the equine world is often seen as quite traditional, the majority of participants believe an element of offline presence is still key for a brand to thrive, as it increases engagement levels with the consumers: something not easily achieved online.
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