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IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON SPORTS MARKETING – A CASE OF NIKE UK

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to analysis the impact of social media advertising on sports marketing within the context of Nike in the UK. Using the statistics exhibited, this inquisition substantiates that social media content is most important element of digital marketing success of Nike. This study conducted mixed method research process with 100 marketing professionals in the UK as survey participants and 10 marketing professionals as interview participants. It can be observed from the survey results that there is significant impact of social media marketing on sports marketing. The social media affects sports marketing through content, celebrity endorsement and through positive word of mouth. The results of this study are generally consistent with those of past literature.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

Background

Throughout history, the successive introduction of new technologies has operated as a generator of social change. The digitization of information and the convergence of this phenomenon with that of its network distribution have brought with it a new era of human development of historical dimensions. Since the appearance of the Internet, and more specifically with the advent of web 2.0, the world of communication has undergone great transformations (Horák, 2016), thus consolidating the idea that the history of communication is closely linked to the history of technology. The linear theoretical model of mass communication in which a sender (source) transmits a message through a channel (media) destined for a receiver (public), for many years has been the dominant paradigm in studies on the information and communication (Nufer, 2016). Since information and communication is an important aspect of business, therefore, related technologies such as social media have also gained their importance which is the main aspect of this research study.  

Today, the social media admits certain revisions in favor of a more reticular than linear model, with which the traditional flow of information basically one-way “from one to many” has been changed to a flow of multidirectional cut “from many to many”. In short, some old explanatory models of mass communication have already been overtaken by novel approaches (Huang and Hsu, 2017).

The strictly technological, while being fundamental, is not the only key element of this process that many already qualify as a “paradigm shift” and in which, as in all revolutions, there is another unavoidable protagonist, i.e. the individual. The great difference between new media and traditional media lies in the greater interactive potential of the latter. The Internet and the rest of new social media allow the multidirectional flow of messages and greater possibilities for selection, expression and communication (Erzikova, et al., 2016). There are those who interpret that the Internet is not so much a technology as a cultural production, because it is a truly social construction, in which users are simultaneously consumers and producers of content (“prosumers”). It is the people themselves who shape this new lattice model through their contributions, through their actively creative participation and through their collaborative attitudes (Hsu and Hunang, 2017). Based on these arguments, this study aims to focus on the social media and how it is shaping the business communication particularly marketing communication in modern world.

McCarthy (2016) pointed out a few years ago that the media would improve if they somehow emulated the way people communicate in face-to-face conversations. Machines alone have not been and are not capable of generating a full interactive discourse, but they are necessary tools for users to develop their relationship skills. The individual has thus taken a leading role in the formation and growth of this interactive network culture that has opened the human mentality to dialogue and to a continuous approach in a scenario of multiple participations like never before. According to Saari and Tuominen, (2016), Internet users seek to dialogue, discuss, confront, support and, in one way or another, establish a relationship with others. In short, as powerful as it is, technology is only an enabling tool that gains its true strength in the hands of (connected) people. Therefore, the focus of this research has been set on the social media which is an important networking internet based tool.

Both quantitatively and qualitatively speaking, the emergence of online social channels (social media) is perhaps the most significant phenomenon that has occurred in the Internet environment in recent years, so that the interaction of people in real time, regardless of the location they have become one of the star activities of the moment in the online world, something of which some data give a good example (Hoffrén, 2019). 90% of Internet users already belong to some social network; social media has already surpassed the consumption of other online services and material such as entertainment music, video, etc. Majority of the businesses are using social media such as LinkedIn to recruit employees and, the rate of minors accessing social networks on the Internet from smart mobile phones increased exponentially (Newman, Peck, and Wilhide, 2017).

According to Hale, (2016) an overwhelming majority of mobile phone users who connect to the Internet from their mobile phones do so to access social networks. Perhaps the definitive proof of the strength and successful social implantation of the latest technologies and the phenomena of use associated with them is the amazing speed with which they have succeeded, because as Haemers, (2016) points out to achieve the 50 million users, the radio needed 38 years, television required 13 years, Internet required 4 years, the iPod required 3 years, but for Facebook it took just nine months to reach its first 100 million users (Ehrenberg and da Costa Bueno, 2016). Since social media has gained increasing importance for both consumers and businesses therefore there is a need to continuously gather empirical evidence and this study contributes towards this notion.

The latest technical means of communication have revolutionized the traditional way of seeing the world. Now there is a balance in which, on the one hand, we have the structured and controlled information offered by the traditional media and, on the other, a collective citizen action that generates its own content and places it on platforms of theoretically universal access (Ristevska-Jovanovska, 2017). At the same thing happens in institutional settings, the internet has made it easier for companies and institutions to create their own “media”, thus breaking the traditional difference in roles between the media that “inform others” and the social subjects of information (Fetchko, Roy, and Clow, 2018). Social media as therefore become an important and unique communication channel between businesses and consumers and this study aims to explore its potential through a case study of Nike, which is considered to be leader in social media marketing.

Placing the focus of these initial reflections in the field of sport, the influence that the latest information and communication technologies are having on it is also indisputable, and vice versa. In order to understand the evolution of sport throughout history with a holistic vision, it is necessary to attend in parallel to the changes experienced by the media and the evolution of information technology itself (Manna, 2019), because the osmosis between sport and communication goes beyond the extremely important role that the media has played – and is playing – in the financing of sports, fundamentally, but not exclusively, in its professional sphere. The media have spectacularized the sport to the point of molding spectators and athletes themselves a particular experience of it (Schmidt, et al., 2018).

Ristevska-Jovanovska, (2018) posited that there is no longer sport without television, nor television without sport. Furthermore, the study pointed out at the dawn of the 21st century that in a context of profound changes in the system of production and distribution of communication, sport has become a representative social practice of the processes of convergence that occur in the information society between technological, cultural and social factors, and that this convergence should not be considered, therefore, as an isolated phenomenon, but as a direct consequence of the transformations that are taking place in the communications system and in the new processes of cultural mediation in the information society (Hazari, 2018).

Problem Statement

In sports industry, the NIKE brand has marked an incomparable importance when evaluating the incidence of different brands on the perception and behaviour of sports consumers. Supporting this is the plethora of marketing research that explains the evolution that Nike and other sporting brands have had over time and how they have standardized a prototype of comfortable and practical sports merchandise in global society. It also explains the success and positioning that these brands have had worldwide by offering quality, innovation and continuous improvement in their products (Caetano, 2019).

One of the key success factors of Nike is its effective marketing strategy. Nike, like other sporting brands, makes heavy investment in marketing and advertising. Furthermore, there has been significant research about the way Nike has used social media and has become the leading sporting brand on Twitter as well as other social media platforms (White, White, and White, 2017). This study is aimed to understand and explore the impact of social media on sports marketing by conducting the case study of Nike as case study. The aim is to assess and stress upon the use and impact of social media in sports marketing in the UK. 

Aims and Objectives

The research would like to evaluate the impact of social media advertising on sports marketing.

  • To Study the concept of social media advertising and sports marketing
  • To identify the key factor pertaining to social media that influence sports a marketing
  • To study the impact of social media on sport marketing in light of Nike UK.
  • To provide recommendations to Nike UK on deploying effective social media strategies to enhance sports marketing.

Research Questions

The research questions formed for achieving the aim of study are as follows:

  • What is the concept of social media advertising and sports marketing?
  • What are the key factors pertaining to social media that influence sports a marketing?
  • What is the impact of social media on sport marketing in light of Nike UK?
  • What are the social media strategies Nike UK can deploy to enhance sports marketing?

Research Organisation

The organisation of this study has been divided into five main components. The first part is the introduction and rationale for research phenomenon, research problem, aims and objectives. The second part is the secondary data collection and analysis results in the form of a comprehensive literature review. The literature review also developed a conceptual framework that serve as the foundation for primary data collection and analysis methods. The third chapter provides complete details and rationale for each methodological step undertaken during the course of the study. In the fourth component the researcher presented results and analysis of primary empirical evidence. Finally the study ends with conclusions and recommendations.

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

Introduction

Despite the fact that the first scores between business and sport were already visible at the beginning of the 20th century, it was not until the 70s of the last century when marketing settled definitively in the world of sports. Thanks in large measure to radio and television, which were the main means of announcing the products of the different brands. Nike, Adidas and Puma took advantage of this wave and in just ten years they grew exponentially (Cornwell, 2016). One of the visible and most prominent heads at the beginning was Phil Knight, founder of the sports company Nike. Considered the father of sports marketing, he was able to quickly make a name for himself in the commercial world thanks to the sponsorship he offered to athletes such as Michael Jordan or the Brazilian soccer team (Madej, 2019).

Today, and taking advantage of the revolution that social media has brought, it is much easier to make yourself known. Additionally, companies target a much broader audience. The objective, without a doubt, is to establish a brand-athlete and public-brand relationship. And this is the main change that this sector has managed: to commercialize everything that surrounds sport (Phua, et al., 2018). For Nikodimou and Dimitrakopoulou, (2019) practically everything is marketed and highlights that clubs and athletes are aware of the media platform they have become and seek to obtain the greatest possible economic return for their activity.

Real Madrid or Football Club Barcelona may be charging around 100 million euros per season from their sponsor. It would be unreasonable to think that a high-level team could be entering these amounts of money. But taking the beginnings of marketing as a reference, there is no doubt that he took sport as an object to continue growing and that he does it more and more (Burton, 2019).

History of sports marketing

Despite the fact that there are some glimpses of the relationship between advertising and sport in the second half of the 19th century, it was not until the 20s of the last century when this contact was made. It originated in the United States and gradually spread throughout the world. It was in the year 1923 when the Wilson Sporting Goods company began to sponsor the golfer Gene Sarazen (Toffoletti, 2016). At first, the agreement stood at $ 6,000 per month and an extra of the same amount for expenses on their trips. The Wilson company, founded by Thomas E. Wilson, is well known today for being the sponsor of high-level tennis rackets like Roger Federer or Serena Williams (Gadiraju, 2016).

Years later and already in 1928, Coca Cola decided to bet heavily on the Amsterdam Olympics. They managed to sell more than 1,000 cases of bottles and it was the main drink of many of the athletes who gathered there. In addition, the Coca Cola logo was already visible on some posters of the event and since then its relationship with the Olympic Games has increased considerably, being one of the most important official sponsors (Billings, et al., 2017).

The radio also took advantage of this type of strategy and began to establish its first advertising spaces. However, this method was definitively implemented with the appearance of the then journalist Phil Knight, one of the founders of the Nike brand in 1964. His company has since been dedicated to the design, development, manufacture and marketing of balls, footwear, clothing, equipment, accessories and other sports items. Knight also managed to establish a millionaire contract in the 80s with the famous basketball player Michael Jordan, creating at that time the Air Jordan sneakers (Sobande, 2019). Like radio, television and the media in general, they served as a voice so that all these companies began to market their products and grew little by little. In 1951, the American television channel National Broadcasting Company (NBC), began to broadcast the main sporting events that had repercussions nationally and worldwide. Companies, especially Americans, began to value and saw the opportunity to include their brand in these events, observing the effect they had (Bohnsack, et al., 2016).

Following this line, in the 60s sports companies continued to see the media as a fundamental piece when promoting their products. In addition, the fight between the most famous sports brands began: Nike, Adidas and Puma. From the 70s, many athletes are already included as the protagonists of numerous spots or advertising campaigns. The campaign moved politically. Adidas wanted to highlight how the Argentine country was at that time: lifting of the prohibition of Peronism, the Farc, the corruption of many military personnel, the lack of unity of the people (Prather, 2018). With the motto Representatives of the new Argentina: strong and elegant united took football as a starting point to reverse that situation through sportswear. In addition, the campaign also included the company Gatic, founded in 1953 and which was licensed by the Adidas company from Germany to manufacture sports products in Argentina (Schlereth and Frederick, 2017).

In the 80s, the inclusion of athletes themselves in advertising spaces was strengthened. Even many brands that did not sell sports products also saw selling their product via athletes as viable. One of the most famous advertising campaigns of the 80s was carried out by Diego Armando Maradona and promoted by the Generalitat de Catalunya, when the Argentine footballer was at Fútbol Club Barcelona. The spot promoted sports in addition to showing its refusal to use drugs (Diers-Lawson and Croucher, 2017).

The irruption of companies not linked to the sports world established a relationship with those that did, with the objective of mutual benefit. Nike’s relationship with football grew exponentially from the 90s and its ads began to become authentic works of art. One of them was the announcement that featured the Brazilian soccer team in ’98, one of the best in history. The spot was shot at the end of 97 and was published the following year on the occasion of the 1998 World Cup in France (Cottingham and Petersen-Wagner, 2018). The chosen setting was the Galeao Airport in Rio de Janeiro. Soccer players such as Ronaldo or Rivaldo, among others, toured the entire airport with dribbles, watermarks, ball kicks, all the beauty of Brazilian football. The announcement is remembered as one of the best in football history (da Silva and Las Casas, 2018).

Already in the 21st century, more and more brands are taking sport to sell their products or to be the official sponsor of a club. Without going any further, the flight company Fly Emirates, is the official sponsor of Real Madrid Club de Fútbol or Rakuten, the largest online store in Japan, which is the Fútbol Club Barcelona. This, linked to the rise of social networks, has turned sports into an industry that continues to grow (Sande, 2019).

Social networks within sports marketing

Create a hashtag, upload a video or carry out raffles. Launch surveys, conduct contests or do a live show. More than 90% of companies have carried out any of these actions. Social networks have allowed brands to go further and retain more people. Also, they have allowed you to follow a live match of a team through their platform or find out about the latest signings. Features such as immediacy or feedback allow you to connect the brand with the public. In this case, the companies are sports teams, with the aim of establishing a closer relationship with fans (Sanderson and Siegfried, 2018). An example of this is creating attractive content, the task of the Community Managers, and that this content goes viral. One of the most recognized in Spanish football is the Community Manager of Club Deportivo Leganés. His creativity and close contact with the followers of the Madrid team has made his content go beyond simple information and has made the followers feel part of his publications (Scelles, et al., 2017).

The creativity of the Twitter simulating a Champions League match by the time and day of the match against Real Madrid went viral in a few hours. Also connecting with the athletes themselves is also a success of social networks. Beaming or sharing a content at important events reiterates that feedback between players and fans (Stavros and Smith, 2019). We can feel their feelings, their sensations after having played a game or simply their day to day within a sports team. On the other hand, we can highlight that companies are targeting a young audience, given that adolescents tend to spend a lot of time on social networks and are waiting for new sports products at the last minute (Chisam, 2019).

By having a wide variety of platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.), one can know the likes of our followers through surveys or just by responding to the publications made by the company (for example: uploading an image of some new sneakers). In addition, by publishing this type of content, the company can increase its sales within its website with online payment, without having to make its buyer go to the physical store (Rowe, et al., 2019). According to Geurin and McNary, (2020) social networks are very important. In my opinion perhaps advertising in mainstream media is overrated. Brands were always fighting to be in prime time and reach a larger audience, but today social networks allow you to segment a target audience and reach it directly causing greater impact than, for example, television.

Background of Sports Marketing

In the twentieth century, the emergence of sport as a professional practice is perceived and, at the same time, it begins to have a powerful presence as the axis of thematic content in the mass media, modifying the level of traditional symbolic practice: a new and double synergy between communications and sports. Until the late 1960s, sport maintained relative autonomy from the mass media (Budraitis, 2016). But the influences came when the media flooded the field of sports information to become protagonists with live and direct broadcasts. From that moment, they became natural and genuine co-authors (Phillips, 2019). Sports fields and stadiums were the new television studios. The growth of the relationship between television and sport has been so significant and marked that even | Study carried out by the Chicago Tribune revealed that between 1900 and 1975 sports pages had gone from 9 to 17% of the newspaper (Deshinge, 2020).

Most importantly, in 1975, sports commentaries occupied almost 50% of the local, national and international press together. Editors had realized that readers wanted more sports, more comics, more fun, and less news. In fact, in 1984 an expert detected that the sports section occupied 30% of all the circulation of a newspaper in a big city (Fried and Mumcu, 2016). In 1990, sports fans in the United States were able to purchase their own sports newspaper, “The National” daily. Although this newspaper has already disappeared, a new one will probably appear soon. Based on the above, it is noted that the increase in sports information in the different media had an impact on the birth of sports marketing (Youn and Jin, 2017).

Legg and Dottori, (2017) say that in the specific case of basketball in the United States of America. It was suggested to the NBA the increase in downtime to have more advertising spaces, in tennis a new scheme was created, later called a tie-break to reduce the duration of games; in volleyball a system called rally point appeared, where it is not necessary to have the serve to add. And in soccer, even the change of shirt was forced during the game to improve the visualization of the teams. Shortly before 1972, the great changes did not take long to arrive, mainly to the market of the brands that offer sports products and services; The “revolution” of the clothing companies appears on the scene with a strong accent and the so-called brand war is introduced to sport (Nichols, Cobbs, and Tyler, 2019).

According to Mittal and Manavalan, (2017) in 1978 Advertising Age used the terminology of Sports Marketing to describe the activities of the consumer, the product of the industry and those responsible for marketing who began to use sports excessively as a vehicle for promotion

The Product of Sport

Hand in hand with what is defined as a product in traditional marketing, Wolfsteiner, Grohs, and Reisinger, (2019) affirm that a vital step in sports marketing is recognizing that you are dealing with a special product. Given the preeminence of this product in our culture, we understand that the organisations that offer sports to their consumers form the industry. If a product can be described as a set or combination of qualities, processes and attitudes (material, services, and / or ideas) that the buyer expects to bring him satisfactions, it is a peculiar aspect that distinguishes the sport. In this aspect, the sport product offers the consumer the satisfaction of some basic desires or needs such as health, fun or sociability. This advantage has to be redefined by the person in charge of marketing in an organisation (Maderer, Parganas, and Anagnostopoulos, 2018).

Gajek, (2016) approached sport as a product, they set out to show some components that in this research are grouped in the following table and that are part of the same for detail the elements that belong to its constitution, then define the following:

Components of the Sport Product.

COMPONENTS

DEFINITION

The way of play by itself

Each sport includes a form of play, where a winner or loser pattern is created. All sports have different characteristics, which make consumers see an appeal. For example basketball for its speed, agility and precision. Similarly, the defense of American football makes marking very difficult and this avoids scoring and spectators pay close attention to what happens on the scoreboards. Marketing must identify the innate attractions of the game so that attendance remains stable (Lyons, 2017).

The event and its stars

It has been identified that a tennis championship, the essential product is the stars who play it, it is not surprising that tennis players have a higher percentage of attendance than men. Everything will depend on the index of stars that are competing or the event that generates for consuming an emotional bond. For this reason, the marketing manager must take into account whether he is going to invest in stars of a nature either for a game or a championship during that season or longer, evaluating the return on investment (Vredenburg and Giroux, 2018).

The entrance

The entrance to a sporting event brings income, indicates to the public its locations, shows the forms and purchasing conditions. Many teams use tickets as an advertising medium by selling or promoting on the reverse side of tickets a business or corporation that disseminates their message or product. Often, ticket reversal rights are sold to fast food restaurants, which offer discounts, plus the chance to win a prize (Popp and Woratschek, 2016).

The organisation

The NASL conducted a study where I observed one of the most significant factors that help the feeling of a team in the sense of fidelity. The fan must be convinced that the team belongs to their community and will remain there. The marketing manager naturally tries to foster that loyalty, and both community efforts and public relations work serve to foster this support (Gillooly, Anagnostopoulos, and Chadwick, 2017).

The installations

Sports organisations need specific facilities; Since these are a tangible element of the sport product and in most cases these are used by the owners to sell advertising space to obtain more income (Schoombee and Bick, 2018).

Material, wardrobe, fashions

The material surrounding the sports product is fundamental to any organisation, including a study carried out on the sports material represented almost a third of the gross national domestic product. Sports clubs have found that retail stores are important revenue-generating centers that encourage the exchange of information on fashion equipment and its use. Sports licensing and merchandising have rapidly entered this product area, closely interacting with material, clothing and fashion companies.

Personnel and processes

The staff is always influenced in any service that is performed to the client, The different processes that involve sports personnel such as collecting tickets, being in front of the reception, controlling the changing rooms, concession operations, instructional techniques and ground maintenance they are essential characteristics of the product. They should not be overlooked and taken for granted (Zhang, et al., 2018).

The image

Refers to the image corresponding to the facilities and the location of the same as they are factors of great importance for the success of the sport product. To do this The product image concerns each industry segment of any sports organisation. Each segment obtains results related to the image, although the most important are very similar (Barroilhet, 2016)

 

According to Vimieiro, (2017), sport is a product and a service that many people around the world enjoy playing, observing and participating. While there has been a great deal of global media attention at sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup of world football, there appears to be a lack of integration between sports marketing and international business disciplines, both from one point from a practical and academic point of view. There is enormous potential to link sports marketing and international business literature through focusing on corporate sports businesses that occur around the world. Finlay, (2018), demonstrated the need to adopt an international perspective of sports marketing and business relations to deal.

Sports Marketing Strategies

According to Cornwell and Kwon, (2019) sports marketing strategies vary according to the type of company and the business in which they operate, but in general they are focused on the consumer of sports products, seeking to find a differentiating and sustainable advantage. before the competitors. Given this new panorama, sport has become a source of symbols and social representations with great influence, so companies do not hesitate to use advertising campaigns to create new needs and influence people’s behaviour. In order for a brand to position itself above another in the minds of consumers, it is important that companies identify with the values ​​and attributes of their brands and thus be able to search for the most appropriate channels and marketing strategies, to reach they consumers more directly and effectively (Pourazad, Stocchi, and Pare, 2019).

Nufer, (2016) adds that in any organisation or type of company, the customer is the starting point, since the objective of an efficient service strategy is to keep current customers satisfied and attract potential customers, This must be considered when designing the marketing or marketing plan. Generally, customer satisfaction is used as a tool in quality management planning. Every organisation must have a marketing plan (Oliveira, 2019).

According to Brown, Anderson, and Dickhaus, (2016) currently many countries have soccer teams that focus their sports marketing strategies, towards four main objectives:

  • Increase the number of partners, through campaigns for fans to bond with the team.
  • Sale of tickets and subscribers for all the games of the season, offering special benefits to the fans, to get resources through important assistance to the stadium.
  • Sale of television rights and advertising space in the stadium in each of the games played.
  • Obtain sponsorship agreements with companies seeking exposure of their brands, as an important source of income for the team’s operation.

King, et al,., (2012) argue that loyalty is another key variable within the marketing that is applied in sports clubs, the authors propose the importance of applying defensive marketing strategies to loyalty to consumers and not an offensive marketing that only aims to motivate new consumers by snatching them away from the competition. The same authors point out that they often make the mistake of neglecting current customers to attract new ones, investing money in consumer attraction campaigns (Volozova, 2016). According to the experts mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, it is much more difficult to conquer new clients than to retain current ones, this last strategy being more advantageous, since loyalty of current clients could without further effort captivate new consumers only through word of mouth (Bigsby, Ohlmann, and Zhao, 2019).

Recently, sports activities involving people with limited capacity in their sports staff have become important within the sports industry and the same has led to the massification and attractiveness of events of this magnitude, from the perseverance and discipline that these athletes They print in their profession, and the same seeks to raise awareness among those with the same disabilities to start a sports career (Abeza, et al., 2017).

Theoretical Framework

For Moragas (1985 cited in Serazio, 2019), the uses and gratifications approach create an exploration of individual behaviour towards the media, because they create and gratify their needs. Many of the needs studied may be related to the media but others are independent of them. For his part, Klevtcova, (2018) between the end of the 1950s and the second half of 1970, developed the approach in which he analyzed not only the content of the media, but also the audience that became partially active. The normative theory of social responsibility used especially the theory of ‘uses and gratifications’. In this theory, individuals choose according to their personal goals and needs to satisfy them. But it assumes that each member of the audience is isolated, has different needs, and therefore uses the media with different objectives and interests and also in a different and selective way (Popp, Horbel, and Germelmann, 2018).

Likewise for Kunkel and Biscaia, (2020) the theory of uses and gratifications arises directly from functionalism. This theory is based on the fact that gratifications come not only from media content, but from the type of exposure to the medium and from the social context of gratifying consumption. In other words, this theory believes that the audience becomes an active element, since it chooses the means to satisfy its needs and gratifications. On the one hand, Chanavat and Desbordes, (2017) according to the Theory of Uses and Gratifications, the mass media satisfy some needs, such as cognitive, aesthetic-affective, entertainment and integrative. The audience stops being passive to become active, which was not the case with other theories. There will be those who for their part want to see the Simpsons, while there will be those who choose the news programs. There will also be those who prefer show programs, etc. It is simple, people have power and it is with the use that they give to the means that satisfy certain needs. On the one hand, the needs that seek to be satisfied can be those of entertainment, informational, recreation, etc. (McKelvey and Grady, 2017).

Conceptual Framework

Content Marketing

In case of digital marketing and specifically in social networks within its sports marketing strategy, the content is considered to be most important aspect. According to Hoffrén, (2019) the firms should carry out a coherent content strategy to meet its objectives. The published content is considered to be most influential factor (Hoffrén, 2019). Though, the content is considered to be most influential aspect of digital and social media marketing, but it cannot be the centre of sports marketing strategy for any firm. Since a content if it is not intended for a specific type of audience or target will not be successful. If it also does not meet the issuer’s objectives, not only will it not be successful, but it will also comply with the strategy set by the institution, so there will be no Return on Investment (ROI) that marketers require (McCormick, 2018).

Therefore, what is meant at this point is that the first thing the firm must do is to be clear about what the objective as a firm will be, what strategies will be followed to achieve those objectives, and above all, who or who are the targets that we want to impact with the content (Cornwell, 2016). Once the objectives have been established, the different audiences with different interests should be identified. This means that the generated content must be of interest to those audiences so that they cause the effect which has been marked in the club’s sports marketing plan (Jones, 2019).

Celebrity Endorsement

Social networks have fundamentally changed the way people are connected to each other. The same applies to the way in which brands communicate with their customers and prospects. News reaches users of Twitter, Facebook and other social networks as it unfolds, much faster than any other media and more and more of our free time is devoted to consulting our mobile phones on which social networks are enthroned. Therefore the social networks of sports celebrities strategic for the brand marketing plan (Richelieu, 2016).

Sport produces passions, presents itself as a source of well-being, a health asset and a synonym of positivism. On a certain level, sport unites millions of people under a single shared will, whatever their beliefs, their socio-professional categories and their lifestyle. The communities gathered around sports celebrities such as world stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kobe Bryant or Michael Phelps present numbers that create confusion (Sanderson and Siegfried, 2018). No less than 63 million fans on Facebook for Ronaldo and 21 million followers on Twitter! This is how brands like Babolat, for example, have bet on a global sports icon, Rafael Nadal, to promote its products, instantly communicating with 5.2 million followers on Twitter and more than 12 million fans of the tennis on Facebook (Austin and Jin, 2017).

The social media allows brands to communicate quickly to an attentive and enthusiastic target audience, it is essential to remember that they are not like other means of communication. The power of Twitter, Facebook and other Instagram lies in the relevance of the message transmitted and its credibility, which must be linked to the sports celebrity to which the account belongs (Fried and Mumcu, 2016). As such, perfect compatibility between the brand, its image, its products and the sportsperson is one of the key elements for the success of a digital influence campaign with product placements, as demonstrated by the successful activations of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nike his sponsor, on social networks (Carson, 2018).

Product placement on sports celebrity accounts integrated more generally into a digital influence campaign highlighting the benefits of a product or service is capable of having an unequalled impact, from the moment when it is scrupulously planned and controlled. The message, whatever it is – even if it is a sponsored communication (Cornwell and Kwon, 2019) will have more value in the eyes of members of the sports community because it is more authentic and more credible. Social networks give new impetus to celebrity marketing and present themselves as a platform capable of multiplying the desired effect by a brand, both in terms of awareness and results in terms of the sale of its products or services. The term Powerful means within the reach of brands wishing to quickly reach their audience and influence their behaviour (Leng, 2017).

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is an important aspect of social media marketing. The concept of word of mouth is the recommendation made by satisfied consumers through content they create on social media platforms. Loyal customers provide valuable positive as well as negative feedback about products and services of the company and show their satisfaction (Volozova, 2016). They also highlight unique characteristics of the products and services and they help to build and promote brand over the internet. Taking advantage of the virality of the medium, the scope of the product awareness can be exponential. Social media word of mouth reaches more audiences, more effectively (Nufer, 2016). When combined with the effects of social media, what is said on social media can go far beyond the scope of traditional marketing. Word of mouth resulting from speech and activity will effect, change behaviour, and influence the actions of others (Kalu, 2019).

With the help of new social media services, companies can shape and lead positive conversations over time and with desired results. It has been shown that digital influence is the fundamental building block in the marketing and service of companies around the world. To help make sense of how word of mouth becomes influence (Hazari, (2018), Caetano, (2019) recommends to understand how reach and relevance fuel resonance. Resonance is a result of scope and relevance and determines how long something stays alive in the stream before attention dissipates. This is important because social media is a noisy world, and without resonance, conversations evaporate quickly. As the activity that results from influence campaigns is not only measurable, it reveals the elements of resonance that can be optimized. In order to measure results as a brand, they first have to be designed into the strategy and accounted for in the supporting parameters (Belasen and Belasen, 2019).

Within this context, Connolly, (2020) highlighted the role of Buzz marketing, or word of mouth marketing which is a technique, within viral marketing, whose objective is to generate conversation among people towards a specific brand or product. To do this, it begins by inducing product testing in a few specifically selected consumers, who discuss their experience with other people, becoming not only transmitters of information, but also acquire the ability to influence their purchasing behaviour (Madej, 2019).

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Chapter Summary

The review above clearly indicates that sports marketing has seen gradual and significant changes with the introduction of different marketing strategies such as celebrity endorsement as well as adoption of new technologies such as social media. The fundamental aspect of sports marketing, like marketing in any other industry, is to develop content that is favourable for the firm, its brand, and its product. The ultimate aim is to influence the consumer behavior among which one of the most important objectives is to encourage customers to spread positive word of mouth. This study has combined these variables in the conceptual framework above to conduct a primary survey questionnaire based empirical evidence to evaluate the impacat of social media marketing on sports marketing within the context of Nike .

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY

Introduction

This part of the study is focused on discussion about methodological design and process undertaken during the course of the study (Brannen, 2017). The discussion begins with philosophical position and then continues to identify the research approach. The discussion then carries on to identify alternate research methods and provides justification for the current choice. The next section provides discussion about data collection instrument, data analysis techniques and sampling techniques. Finally, the researcher also provides a brief discussion of ethical considerations undertaken in this study.

Research Philosophy

Epistemological position in social research refers to the belief and perspective of researcher regarding methods and ethos of research process to gain acceptable knowledge. There are two basic contradictory schools of thought with respect to epistemology. One of them is the positivism, which stands with the opinion that for the acquisition of acceptable knowledge, it is critical to apply methods and ethos of natural sciences (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015). Therefore, positivism requires quantification of social phenomenon. In contrast, the interpretivist epistemological paradigm stress upon the idea that the subject matter of social sciences is different as compared to subject matter of natural phenomena. Hence, instead of applying methods and ethos of natural sciences, the social research process should be based on a separate research strategy (Walliman, 2015). Hence, the interpretivist paradigm conducts social research process from subjective perspective and does not quantifies phenomenon under consideration. Finally, there is the hybrid of both interpretivist and positivist paradigm, which stands that both quantitative and qualitative aspect of a social phenomenon can be integrated to conduct social research (Taylor, Bogdan, and DeVault, 2015).

This study is based on pragmatism paradigm, because the fundamental aim of the study is to understand and explore the impact of social media marketing in sport marketing within the context of Nike. The researcher believes that both quantitative and qualitative methods are required to gain clear understanding of the impact and hence the researcher decided to posit with the positivist pragmatism.

Research Approach

In social research community, the research approach can be classified either as deductive or inductive. The deductive approach aims to use existing theories and test them within the context of specific target settings. The purpose is to test the theory to ascertain that whether the theory that is applicable in general settings can be used to explain the specific target settings also (Silverman, 2016). In sharp contrast, the inductive reasoning based research approach aims to develop new theories instead of testing existing theories. The inductive reasoning based approach collects data from specific circumstances and then continues to identify common patterns and similarities, based on which a theory is constructed and proposed (Bryman, 2016).

This study is designed with deductive approach. The justification to choose deductive reasoning-based research approach is that the aim of the study is to test the impact of social media in sports marketing within the specific content of Nike company. There is significant theoretical debate regarding the impact of social media in sports marketing. Therefore this study conducted a conceptual model from existing theories and then identified the factors that can be used to explain the impact of social media. The researcher then collected data for the Nike as target settings and then applied the conceptual framework to analyse whether existing theoretical relationships are applicable in case of Nike.

Research Methods

The research methods are grouped as mixed method, qualitative method, and quantitative method. If the researcher uses the quantitative method, the entire research process is based on quantitative data only. The phenomenon under consideration is quantified and then data is collected in the form of numbers, ratings, digits, etc. The distinguishable benefit of quantitative method is that it provides higher reliability as compared to qualitative method because the data is quantitative and thus has minimum personal bias (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015). However, the major limitation in the quantitative method is that it lacks to provide in-depth details about feelings, experiences, opinions of people. If qualitative methods are chosen for the social research process, the entire process is based on qualitative and subjective data only. This type of data can be text(s), speeches, pictures, or other forms excluding numerical data. The qualitative method provides in-depth details about feelings, experiences, and opinions of people, and overcomes the weakness in the quantitative method (Walliman, 2015). However, the qualitative method is typically subjective and therefore it is often critiqued for its vulnerability to personal bias of data sources. Finally, there is mixed method which is the hybrid of both quantitative and qualitative method and thus the research process requires collection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data. Although, the mixed method overcomes the limitations of both mono-methods, yet the time and budget requirements of mixed methods are higher and therefore it is considered to be a constraint (Taylor, Bogdan, and DeVault, 2015).

This study is based on mixed method. The primary rationale for choosing research mixed method is that the choice is dependent upon the choice of research epistemology. The positivist paradigm is often paired with quantitative method and the interpretivist paradigm is paired with qualitative method. Since this study is based on pragmatism paradigm, therefore mixed method is considered to be natural choice for this investigation. In order to overcome the constraints in mixed method, the research decided to minimize the sample size of both quantitative and qualitative data collection processes. This was done to meet strict deadline from university and to minimize the budget requirements.

Research Strategy

A number of strategies have been developed and implemented in social research community which include, but not limited to, survey strategy, action research, ethnographic strategy, etc. The survey strategy is based on collection of data from a sample of target population at a specific point in time. It is a commonly applied research strategy as it provides high level of time and cost efficiency (Silverman, 2016). In contrast, there is ethnographic strategy in which the main requirement for researcher is to collect data as a member of target population. There are multiple data collection processes at different time intervals (Bryman, 2016). The reliability of ethnographic strategy is considered to be high because it provides more comprehensive analysis and larger empirical evidence. However, the ethnographic strategy has very high time and budget requirements which make it unfeasible for small scale research processes (Brannen, 2017).

This study is based on survey strategy. The research chose survey because the study was based on mixed method and the survey strategy facilitated to manage time and budget constraints. In addition, survey strategy allowed to collect large amount of data in relatively less time and gathers statistically reliable and significant evidence within the specified time duration (Walliman, 2015). The ethnographic strategy was also not feasible for researcher because it required to become a member of target population which meant that researcher needed to become a professional marketer in the UK. This was not viable in current circumstances (Silverman, 2016).

Data Collection Methods

Data collection methods are categorized on the basis of type or nature of sources of data. Primarily, there are two groups, the primary data collection methods and secondary data collection methods. The secondary data collection methods are those sources that are already published and provide past evidence and information regarding research phenomenon (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015). Typically, secondary data collection is considered to be highly time and cost efficient because researchers are now able to collect large amount of data using digital libraries and search engines. However, the primary critique on using the secondary methods of data collection is that the sources provide past data only and therefore there is no fresh evidence to gain new insights. In addition, secondary data and information are also considered to be less reliable as they are vulnerable to potential bias of publisher, for example, government publications and institutional publications may be politically biased (Taylor, Bogdan, and DeVault, 2015).

This study used a number of secondary sources of data which include research articles in published academic journals and libraries, text books, as well as literature and research published by universities and other institutions. In order to minimize the personal bias problem, the researcher used articles from credible and authentic only. Since articles are published after editing and reviewing therefore personal bias is minimized. The purpose of using secondary data and information was to identify existing theories and then develop a conceptual model to analyse specific target settings of Nike. The results of secondary data collection process have been presented in previous chapter.

The primary sources are those that require researcher to collect fresh empirical evidence from human participants. The main benefit of primary sources of data is that they provide new data and evidence and thus provide the opportunity to gain new and innovative insights into the research phenomenon (Silverman, 2016). However, the main constraint in using primary evidence is that they are more costly and time consuming as compared to secondary data. Primary data collection involves sampling from target population and then collection of data using data collection instruments (Bryman, 2016). The details of data collection instruments used in this study are provided in the following section.

Data Collection Instruments

Data collection instruments are devices or tools that are used to accumulate primary data from participants in the study. Data collection instruments are chosen in accordance with the research methods choice. There are several data collection instruments available for quantitative and qualitative data (Walliman, 2015). Since this study was based on mixed method, therefore two data collection instruments were conducted for data collection process. The details of each of these tools are provided in following sections:

Questionnaire

For quantitative data collection, one of the commonly used instruments is questionnaire. The questionnaire is grouped into standardized questionnaire/scales for measurement of social phenomena or self-administered or customized questionnaires. The standardized questionnaires are those that have been specifically developed to measure a specific data collection instrument such as employee satisfaction surveys, customer satisfaction survey, service quality surveys, etc. (Taylor, Bogdan, and DeVault, 2015). The basic advantage of standardized tools are developed and tested and have proven reliability and validity. However, they are standardized and therefore may not meet the individual or unique requirements of target setting or particular research. The self-administered questionnaires, on the other hand are those that are developed and formulated by researcher to collect data within the specific research aims and objectives (Silverman, 2016). Self-administered questionnaires enable the researchers to formulate questions that can provide required data for the research process while also meeting unique requirements of each setting. However, the reliability and internal consistency of self-administered questionnaire are considered to be lower as compared to standardized tools (Bryman, 2016).

This study conducted a self-administered questionnaire. The researcher designed the questionnaire in five sections. In the first section, the researcher formulated questions regarding demographic characteristics of participants which include gender, education, and age groups. Each of the characteristic was operationalized using a statement and relative multiple choice answers that respondent could choose (Walliman, 2015). The next three sections in the questionnaire were focused on accumulation of data for independent variables, i.e. content marketing, celebrity endorsement, and word of mouth respectively. Each of these sections contained four statements followed by Likert five point scale (Silverman, 2016). The respondents were asked to show their degree of agreeability towards the statement from strong disagree to strongly agree. Each of the items in the scale was assigned a rating which was used as quantitative data. The last section of the questionnaire was focused on independent variable. The structure of this section was the same as used in previous three sections.

Interviews

For qualitative data collection, the social researchers commonly use focus groups and/or interviews. The focus group is a method that allow researcher to conduct a discussion about research phenomenon with two or members of the target population. Each focus group typically has three or four participants but could involve more. In contrast, the interview is a qualitative data collection method in which the discussion is conducted between the researcher and one respondent only (Bryman, 2016). The main advantage of focus group over interviews is that the former provide large amount of data in relatively less time as compared to latter as there are several respondents at the same time providing data. However, the limitation in focus group as compared to interviews is that the former compromises the confidentiality and anonymity of participants while the interviews provide complete anonymity (Brannen, 2017). However, since interview discussions are one-to-one only, therefore the researcher has conduct several interviews to collect sufficient data for research process and thus interviews are much time and cost consuming (Walliman, 2015).

In this study, the researcher decided to conduct individual interviews because it was not feasible for the researcher to gather two or more marketing professionals in the UK and conduct discussion about sports marketing of Nike due to differences in their schedules and availability. Individual interview was thus a feasible choice for researcher. In order to minimize time and cost aspects of individual interviews the researcher decided to conduct structured interviews (Taylor, Bogdan, and DeVault, 2015). The structured interviews are those types of interviews in which there is a predetermined list of questions which are posed to all participants. The main benefit of structured interviews as compared top unstructured interviews is that the former provide high level of time efficiency as compared to latter. Furthermore, the focus of interviews questions and discussion is strictly focused on research objectives and thus highly relevant data and responses are acquired (Silverman, 2016).

Sampling Strategy

Sampling techniques are defined as identifying a sub-set of population that can be used in research process to represent entire population. The sample members are involved in data collection process for empirical data, the analysis and results of which are considered to be applicable on total population. General categories of sampling techniques are probability and non-probability sampling techniques (Brannen, 2017). The basic difference between probability and non-probability sampling techniques is that the former requires that the probability to participate and get recruited is distributed equally in the entire population while the former is free of any such restrictions. The main benefit of probability sampling techniques is higher reliability while the main limitation is that the researcher must have access to complete target population (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015). Since the target population in this study is marketing professionals in the UK, therefore it is a huge and the researcher did not have adequate means and channels to access all professionals in the UK. Hence probability sampling techniques were not feasible in this study (Walliman, 2015).

The sampling in this study was done using the convenience sampling technique. The convenience sampling can be used to access population members in the nearest vicinity and as per own convenience of researcher (Taylor, Bogdan, and DeVault, 2015).

The sampling process for questionnaire participants began with interacting with marketing professionals using social media channels and the researcher asked them to provide email addresses. The researcher sent blank questionnaire, blank consent form and research background in MS Word format to those participants who agreed to participate in the study. The researcher sent 156 emails and in response 100 complete questionnaire with signed consent forms were gathered. The data collection process was stopped at 100 sample size as it is an adequate sample size for statistical analysis. The same technique and process was applied for interview participants. Each interview was conducted using one-to-one interviews through multimedia applications in the smartphone. All discussions were recorded and then transcripts were prepared using the MS Word format.

Data Analysis Techniques

The data analysis technique is defined as a process that converts raw data into meaningful results and inferences and conclusions are drawn from results. Therefore are different data analysis techniques for quantitative and qualitative data. In case of quantitative data, statistical techniques are used (Silverman, 2016). The statistical techniques are highly appreciated in research community as they provide results in the form of tables and graphs which makes it easier to understand and analyse the data and interpret easily. However, statistical analysis cannot be chosen for qualitative analysis and they provide limited inferences as compared to qualitative data (Bryman, 2016).

This study used three statistical techniques commonly used in social research processes. The frequency analysis, correlation technique, and regression model were used to understand and analyse the quantitative data and explore the impact of social media marketing on sports marketing within the context of Nike. The impact of each variable in the conceptual framework was gauged using these techniques. The results and interpretations are presented in the following chapter.

For qualitative data analysis technique, there are several techniques which include thematic analysis, grounded theory, and content analysis, among others. In this study, the researcher used thematic analysis. Thematic analysis is a technique that enables the researcher to choose a set of keywords and then search them in large pieces of text(s), such as interview transcripts and sort the most relevant data called the categories. Once the relevant data is collected, the researcher further refines the data and identify common patterns and similarities in different pieces. These similarities and patterns are termed themes (Brannen, 2017).

The same technique and process was applied in this study. Since the interview questions were formulated using keywords from objectives, therefore, the researcher used thematic analyses and used the same keywords for search for themes in the interview transcripts. The results of the thematic analysis are presented in the form of a narrative in following chapter.

Reliability and Generalisability

The reliability is one of the important aspects in research processes. This study assessed the reliability by evaluating the internal consistency of the questionnaire survey. The internal consistency was evaluated using the Cronbach’s alpha measure.

Although, the results of this study are generalizable on Nike consumers, yet they are not necessarily applicable in case of all sports consumers. In addition, the results are limited to be applicable on sports industry only and do not explain the behavior of consumers in other industries.

Ethical Considerations

A number of ethical principles were observed during the course of this study. Firstly, the author used Harvard referencing style to pay proper credit and credentials to all the works that have been used. In addition, the researcher obtained consent from all participants during the data collection process for the accumulation and use of data for academic purposes. Furthermore, the researcher has maintained confidentiality and anonymity of all participants. Finally, the researcher used the data and information of participants for the academic use only and was not put to commercial use.

CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND ANALYSIS

Introduction

The primary research results are presented and analysed in this chapter. The first section analyses quantitative results using frequency tables, correlation coefficients, and regression model. The next section in the chapter summarises the results of interviews transcript analysis. The interview results are organized in relation to the theme of each interview question. The researcher has provided quotations from transcripts as supplementary evidence to inferences. Furthermore, the results are also compared with past literature to check their consistency.

Questionnaire Results

Frequency Trends Analysis

The British marketing professionals were requested that they notify the gender. The frequencies of questionnaire analyses indicated that 57% of the British marketing professionals rated male and 43% of the British marketing professionals highlighted female.

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The British marketing professionals were requested in the questionnaire that they identify their age group. As per the frequencies the researcher showed that 24% of the British marketing professionals marked 18-30 years, 18% of the British marketing professionals selected 31 to 40 years, 24% of the British marketing professionals selected 41 to 50 years, 34% of the British marketing professionals ticked 51 to 60 years, and 0% of the British marketing professionals selected over 60 years.

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The questionnaire questioned British marketing professionals that they mention the educational background. The findings of frequency tables indicate following trends 14% of the British marketing professionals opted undergraduate, 16% of the British marketing professionals opted graduates, 14% of the British marketing professionals rated postgraduates, and 56% of the British marketing professionals marked others.

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In the survey British marketing professionals were asked to select one rating for the statement below. Social media content is most important element of digital marketing success of Nike. Following trends have been obtained from ratings  5% of the British marketing professionals opted strongly disagree, 16% of the British marketing professionals marked disagree, 8% of the British marketing professionals highlighted neutral, 35% of the British marketing professionals picked agree, and 36% of the British marketing professionals ticked strongly agree.

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The British marketing professionals were requested that they rate the statement as followed. The content on Nike social media platforms is coherent and consistent with its strategic marketing objectives. The frequencies of questionnaire analyses indicated that 6% of the British marketing professionals selected strongly disagree, 16% of the British marketing professionals chose disagree, 6% of the British marketing professionals highlighted neutral, 33% of the British marketing professionals chose agree, and 39% of the British marketing professionals opted strongly agree.

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The questionnaire requested that they rate the statement as followed. The content of Nike’s social media is focused on developing community of loyal customers. Following trends have been obtained from ratings  8% of the British marketing professionals picked strongly disagree, 18% of the British marketing professionals picked disagree, 5% of the British marketing professionals ticked neutral, 28% of the British marketing professionals picked agree, and 41% of the British marketing professionals opted strongly agree.

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The questionnaire requested that they rate the statement as followed. The content of Nike’s social media is focused on developing community of loyal customers. Following trends have been obtained from ratings  8% of the British marketing professionals picked strongly disagree, 18% of the British marketing professionals picked disagree, 5% of the British marketing professionals ticked neutral, 28% of the British marketing professionals picked agree, and 41% of the British marketing professionals opted strongly agree.

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In the survey British marketing professionals were asked to select one rating for the statement below. Nike effectively uses social media content for advertising and marketing of its products and brand. The findings of frequency tables indicate following trends  8% of the British marketing professionals highlighted strongly disagree, 13% of the British marketing professionals opted disagree, 9% of the British marketing professionals chose neutral, 35% of the British marketing professionals picked agree, and 35% of the British marketing professionals marked strongly agree.

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The questionnaire requested that they rate the statement as followed. Nike has a powerful customer engagement such as ‘@NikeSupport’ to enhance positive word of mouth. The trends observed from frequency tables indicated that 9% of the British marketing professionals rated strongly disagree, 12% of the British marketing professionals chose disagree, 9% of the British marketing professionals opted neutral, 34% of the British marketing professionals rated agree, and 36% of the British marketing professionals marked strongly agree.

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The questionnaire requested British marketing professionals to select one rating for the statement below. Social media has become an essential feature of sports marketing firms such as Nike. As per the trends in survey ratings this study reports that  12% of the British marketing professionals rated strongly disagree, 9% of the British marketing professionals picked disagree, 9% of the British marketing professionals selected neutral, 35% of the British marketing professionals chose agree, and 35% of the British marketing professionals chose strongly agree.

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The British marketing professionals were requested in the questionnaire that they rate the statement as followed. The success of social media based sports marketing is heavily relied upon the content quality. From the frequency tables it was found that  9% of the British marketing professionals rated strongly disagree, 11% of the British marketing professionals picked disagree, 10% of the British marketing professionals selected neutral, 39% of the British marketing professionals opted agree, and 31% of the British marketing professionals selected strongly agree.

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The British marketing professionals were requested that they rate the statement as followed. Celebrity endorsement is a customary and effective marketing strategy for sports merchandise firms such as Nike. The frequencies of questionnaire analyses indicated that 7% of the British marketing professionals chose strongly disagree, 12% of the British marketing professionals marked disagree, 10% of the British marketing professionals opted neutral, 33% of the British marketing professionals selected agree, and 38% of the British marketing professionals picked strongly agree.

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The questionnaire requested that they rate the statement as followed. Spreading positive word of mouth is critical for the achievement of marketing objectives such as developing loyal customer base and online community for Nike. The findings of frequency tables indicate following trends  8% of the British marketing professionals chose strongly disagree, 15% of the British marketing professionals highlighted disagree, 8% of the British marketing professionals ticked neutral, 40% of the British marketing professionals selected agree, and 29% of the British marketing professionals rated strongly agree.

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Correlation Analysis

Although the trends above confirm that there is strong relationship between content marketing, celebrity endorsement, and word of mouth in sports marketing in case of Nike, however, the results above do not provide insights about the nature and strength of relationship among these variables. Therefore, correlation analysis has been conducted. A correlation coefficient evaluates the strength and nature of change between two variables. The positive correlation or direct correlation reflected by positive sign indicates that both variables change in same direction, i.e. if one of them increases the other also shows increment and if one of them decreases the other also shows reduction. The strength of the correlation is considered to be strong if the magnitude of the correlation coefficient is higher than 0.5 and closer to 1. On the other hand, if the magnitude is less than 0.5 and closer to zero the correlation is generally considered to be weak. Following table shows correlation between independent variables (content marketing, celebrity endorsement, and word of mouth) and dependent variable (sport marketing).

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The correlation between content marketing and sport marketing is (r=919, p=.000). the interpretation of this results is that there is very strong and statistically significant correlation between these quantities. Furthermore, the correlation coefficient between word of mouth and sports marketing is (r=.886, p=.000) which leads to the inference that celebrity endorsement has very strong positive correlation with sports marketing. The correlation between positive word of mouth and sport marketing is (r=.886, p=.000). The interpretation of this result is that there is very strong and statistically significant correlation between these quantities.

Although the correlation provides useful inferences about the nature and strength of relationship, still more analyses is required due to inherent limitations in correlation technique. Firstly, it only shows relationship between two variables and does not accommodate for more than two variables. Furthermore, it does not gauge the impact of one variable on another and thus it cannot be used for predictive purposes. Hence, this study also conducted regression model which is discussed in following section and overcomes the limitations.

Regression Model

The regression model shows more insights about change in a social phenomenon. There is coefficient of determination, i.e. r-square which indicates the degree of variability in the phenomenon under consideration that can be explained by given set of independent variable. As a general rule, an r-square of 0.7 or higher is considered to be statistically sound and shows adequate soundness in the model. Furthermore, there is significance value in the ANOVA table which indicates whether the model is statistically sound. If the significance value is less 0.05, then the impact of independent variables on dependent variable is statistically significant. Finally, there is the beta coefficient which determines the change in units in the dependent variable that can be expected by a unit change in the independent variable. Therefore, it gauges the impact of independent variable on dependent variable. Following table presents the regression model for the variables in this study.

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The table summary shows that r-square is .895 which implies that 89.5% of variability or change in sports marketing (as dependent variable) can be explained by the independent variables (content marketing, celebrity endorsement, and word of mouth). Furthermore, the ANOVA table shows that significance level is 0.000 which indicates that the impact of independent variables is statistically significant. Furthermore, the beta coefficient for content marketing is .451 which leads to the inference that if there is a unit increase in content marketing, while assuming that all other factors remains the same, it can be predicted that sport marketing will show a positive increase by .451 units. Similarly, the beta coefficient for celebrity endorsement is .564 which leads to the inference that if there is a unit increase in celebrity endorsement, while assuming that all other factors remains the same, it can be predicted that sport marketing will show a positive increase by .564 units. Finally, the beta coefficient for word of mouth is -.049 which leads to the inference that if there is a unit increase in word of mouth, while assuming that all other factors remains the same, it can be predicted that sport marketing will show a decrease by .049 units. The impact of content marketing and celebrity endorsement are consistent with past literature while the negative impact of word of mouth is inconsistent with general findings in literature which shows that word of mouth has positive impact.

Reliability – Cronbach’s Alpha

The table below presents the reliability with respect to internal consistency of questionnaire items used in this study. Typically the internal consistency is considered to be high and demonstrates adequate reliability if the Cronbach’s alpha is at least 0.7 or higher. This study found that there is high level of internal consistency in the questionnaire because the Cronbach alpha is .98 which is very high reliability.

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Interview Results

Focus of Content of Social Media Marketing by Nike

Many participants stated that the content of Nike social media is focused on brand image and customer self-image.  Consider the following statement

People wear Nike and go to events and then they upload their selfies! They want to relate them with Nike.

Similar conclusions have been drawn by Cornwell and Kwon, (2019) who argued that people can develop a sense of belongingness with online community and the central brand by relating their taste and preferences with the products and services of the company. In fact, the analysis makes it possible to examine the concept of self and identify motivations of consumers towards buying of brand merchandise.

Another participant made following statement,

This use of brands, in line with a real self-image, was mentioned by Nufer (2016). Indeed, although several studies mentioned having a particular interest in a luxury brands, many of them considers these brands as being directly linked to their identity. It should be noted that they are “fan” to regularly buy products from a luxury brand (the others mainly mentioned buying luxury goods through counterfeits and democratized products such as accessories, shoes and beauty products). It is also the oldest participant and having reached a certain social status through their employment as well as their financial means.

In addition, another participant stated,

Now there is a culture that shows an ideal image which can be achieved through use of popular brands or luxury brand

The same conclusion have been presented by Brown, Anderson, and Dickhaus, (2016) who argued that the cultural notion would play a role in the importance given to luxury brands as well as in the social valuation attributed to associating one’s identity with that of luxury houses. People therefore justify tier desire to reflect a prestigious ideal self, among other things.

Consider another statement,

“Exclusivity is sure and certain […] the effect of scarcity […] being different from the others”.

The statement above can be related to King, et al, (2012) who posited that people desire to be associated with these brands on Facebook comes directly from their need to project a positive image to others and to perpetuate this image of a person of confidence. Therefore, it can be said that the content the Nike generates and the content that Nike encourage consumers to generate is focused on creating a link between brand image and people own self-image. With this sentence, participant demonstrated the desire to establish, via Facebook, an ideal social self through luxury brands. For people, accessing the communities of these brands allows them to strengthen the image that she owns them and that she, too, is prestigious.

Furthermore, the marketing professionals also mentioned that Nike attempts to raise brand awareness by encouraging followers to upload content about its products and services.

“Many users upload pictures of Nike products and indirectly promote these while trying to propagate self-image”

Similar assertion is made by Serazio, (2019) who concluded that while some followers associate the brand with their identity on Facebook simply by integrating their virtual community, others comment on their status, love their photos, share their content or clearly stage the brand on their personal page using techniques visual. In fact, two informants substituted their profile photo (the one most directly linked to the identity of the individual who owns the Facebook page) in order to show an image of a brand. Thus, by appropriating the images of luxury brands and generating their own personalized story with the brand, these participants try to accentuate the link between the brand and the self in order to promote the ideal social self.

Engagement by Nike

Many interviewees indicated that Nike social media encourage engagement by triggering interest of followers as well as their curiosity. For example one of the professionals opined,

“There are several intrinsic motivations for users to follow Nike social media. There is entertainment, news, exciting new offers/products, etc.”

Many researchers indicate that brands use social media to engage followers and customers. Followers subscribing to the brand’s Facebook page specifically to access the information it offers, for entertainment as well as for interest and curiosity. Indeed, for them, behaviour is also intrinsically motivated since the activity is carried out for the satisfaction it generates, the pleasure as well as the content it offers (Kunkel and Biscaia, 2020).

Consider another statement

“I think majority of the followers are there to get information and infotainment”

Similarly, McCormick, (2018) argued that the desire to acquire information is an intrinsic need related to knowledge and mentioned by many respondents. In addition, various anticipated consequences underlying this need were mentioned by informants such as the desire to learn to buy, to maintain a blog and to be informed about new products.

Consider another excerpt,

“It’s really to keep up with the latest news.” ” I’m sure consumers feed on this information, that’s why they subscribe to these types of pages.”

The need for general knowledge of brands is highlighted here in addition to a desire to acquire specific information. For example, the desire to obtain information about the brand is a motivating factor for consumers since they frequently mention the same. In addition, it justifies its adhesion and its desire for information by another need which can, for its part can also be considered as extrinsic that is to feed a blog on fashion. Therefore, for consumers, these pages are a source of reliable information on the brands that she can use to maintain her own page (Nufer, 2016).

Finally, following statement sums the intrinsic motivation and engagement.

“Facebook is going to keep me posted on what’s going on there on Nike […] I’m going to get information and then shop around with it.”

According to Huang and Hsu, (2017) for participants purchasing luxury brand products, the desire to be informed about new products may also be in the perspective of purchasing these goods. Thus, they no longer need to regularly go to the store to find out about product offers since they can now observe them directly on their news feed.

Entertainment

Entertainment was also mentioned by some professionals as the attraction for consumers. Consider the following statement,

“For people the social media pages have transformed into magazines. You log on to the page and then scroll through so much that each brand shares a photo”.

The similar conclusions have been put by McCarthy, (2016) who argued that in order to occupy their free time and have fun, consumers can indulge in all kinds of activities related to brands. Some subscribe to fashion magazines, allowing them to observe trends and see the brands’ product offerings while others window shop. For participants, the brand pages on Facebook offer them the possibility of carrying out these two activities, without any time constraints. A Facebook page is primarily a place of entertainment. Indeed, rather than using paid and paper magazines, this participant uses her Facebook page to distract herself and to reach the various fashion images of the many luxury brands of which she is a “fan”. For her, as for other participants, her own Facebook page gives her direct access to the world of brands and allows her to relax while watching a variety of content.

Similar statement made by another participant is,

For participants, the brand page provides entertaining content that allows them to relax. The fun aspect of the brand’s videos also attracts Florence since she says

Furthermore, one of the participants stated,

“Nike and other brands attract attention of consumer by sharing their enthusiasm for sports and celebrities and therefore the brands try to link and relate with customers”

The aforementioned element has been mentioned by many studies such as Saari and Tuominen, (2016) who argued that it is critical for social media marketing to establish relationship between target consumers and brand products and services. The basic idea is to depict that the brand shares the same feelings and excitement with the customers regarding the sports. Therefore, customer stay connected with the brands.

Impact of Social Media

Another important theme in the interview discussions was to understand and explore the impact of social media on sports marketing. Although, previous themes show that social media shows its impact in terms of connection, relating, and engaging the brands with customers through targeted content, interest, infotainment, and sports enthusiasm, however, the basic purposes of marketing is to affect the buying behaviour. Following discussion provides evidence regarding impact of social media on buying behaviour of Nike customers from the perspective of professionals in the UK. Consider the following excerpt,

Nike definitely wants social media marketing to have effects on buying behaviour. The basic purpose is to enhance loyalty and positive buying decisions.

Majority of the literature on social media marketing is focused on identifying its impact on buying behaviour. According to Nufer (2016) within the context of sports marketing, the purpose of social media is to engage the customers to the brand and its products. The brand provide product details and other information for customers in different and innovating ways so that they can enhance brand image in the minds of customers and the idea is to make customers recall when making buying decisions.

Another participant expressed the impact of social media in following words,

“One of the main fundamental purpose of social media for any company including Nike is to drive sales. This can be achieved by identifying needs of customers and then providing relevant content that affects their buying decision”

The aforementioned aspect is also frequently cited in literature. According to Kunkel and Biscaia, (2020) social media generates significant and valuable content for marketers and businesses. Since users are able to generate their own content, therefore the content can be used to identify unmet needs of customers as well as change in buying preferences.

Another important aspect of impact of social media was reflected in following statement,

“Social media has much wider reach to people as compared to traditional media. People have access to social media content in their personal phones, thus it can be used to reach individuals”

There is significant amount of literature that shows the ability of social media to personalise the marketing and advertising content for target customers. According to McCarthy (2016) social media communities develop by people with common interest and common characteristics. Businesses can identify their interests and characteristics and adapt their products so that people feel more relevant with the brand and its products. This is an important objective of branding strategy.

Finally, it is important to highlight an important impact of social media advertising which is reflected in the following statement,

“for me the most important impact of social media on sports marketing is the cost efficiency marketing effectiveness. Social media is cheaper as compared to traditional media. Imagine the cost of conducting a simple survey among millions of consumers without social media”

The cost efficiency of social media marketing has been widely discussed and generally the researchers agree that it provides higher cost efficiency and higher return on investment as compared to traditional advertising media. According to Saari and Tuominen (2016) although the measurement and evaluation of efficiency and effectiveness as well as return on investment of marketing and advertising is non-definitive generally, however, it can be fairly opined that social media has some unique characteristics such as wider reach, two way communication, etc. which makes its more cost and resource efficient as compared to traditional media. However, the study also highlighted a number of risks such as a corporate scandal going viral and having adverse impact on brand.

Chapter Summary

The quantitative results show that social media marketing has significant impact on sports marketing. This is based on the finding that celebrity marketing, content marketing, and positive word of mouth are important aspects of social media marketing within the context of Nike and these affect the buying behavior consumers. The internal consistency of the questionnaire is high which adds to the reliability and validity of the findings. This provides answer to the main research objectives of this study. Furthermore, the interview results confirm that the focus of content marketing by Nike is on encouraging customer involvement and spreading positive word of mouth as well as to develop a community that creates a sense of belongingness. Furthermore, entertainment and infotainment are also major aspects of Nike’s social media marketing. The results of interviews are generally consistent with past studies which also adds to the reliability of this study. A number of recommendations have been made in the next chapter to answer the final research objective.

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Conclusion

The aim of this study was to analysis the impact of social media advertising on sports marketing within the context of Nike in the UK. Using the statistics exhibited, this inquisition substantiates that social media content is most important element of digital marketing success of Nike. Furthermore, from the discussions yielded, this work proclaims that the content on Nike social media platforms is coherent and consistent with its strategic marketing objectives. Additionally, taking into account the inferences furnished, this investigation records that the content of Nike’s social media is focused on developing community of loyal customers. Moreover, grounded on the details discovered, this investigation testifies that Nike effectively uses social media content for advertising and marketing of its products and brand. In addition, taking into account the analysis secured, this inquisition endorses that celebrity endorsement is long lasting tradition maintained by Nike both in traditional as well as digital social media marketing strategies.

In addition, grounded on the deductions yielded, this investigation deduces that celebrity endorsement contributes towards creating online community and developing sense of loyalty towards its brand. Furthermore, in view of the evidences produced, this investigation substantiates that celebrity endorsement helps Nike to transform passion and love of fans of celebrities into favourable buying behaviour and customer loyalty. Moreover, considering the discussions procured, this work ratifies that it is safe to assume that Nike uses the celebrity endorsement strategy effectively in its marketing campaigns.

Moreover, using the facts secured, this inquisition recognises that positive recommendations made by friends and family in social networks are more trusted and accepted by consumers as compared to other advertising. Also, from the analysis gathered, this inquiry derives that positive word of mouth increases the intention to buying and favourable consumer behaviour such repeat purchase. Additionally, taking into account the statistics collected, this inquisition explains that the content on social media platforms of Nike is generally positive and favourable for its marketing objectives. Additionally, in the light of the statistics provided, this work deduces that Nike has a powerful customer engagement such as ‘@Nikesupport’ to enhance positive word of mouth.

Additionally, based on the empirical data brought forth, this inquiry exhibits that social media has become an essential feature of sports marketing firms such as Nike. Moreover, in view of the analysis presented, this investigation supports that the success of social media based sports marketing is heavily relied upon the content quality. Furthermore, in the light of the deductions put up, this research denotes that celebrity endorsement is a customary and effective marketing strategy for sports merchandise firms such as Nike. Furthermore, in view of the arguments secured, this investigation testifies that spreading positive word of mouth is critical for the achievement of marketing objectives such as developing loyal customer base and online community for Nike.

Recommendations

Although, it can be observed in the general literature that Nike has a successful social media marketing strategy, however, there is always room for improvement. Following are some of the recommendations derived from general literature:

  • It is recommended to promote more research on the theory of Uses and Gratifications since there is not much information on the subject, much less updated research. Nike should use various instruments such as customer motivation and satisfaction surveys to identify the unmet needs of its loyal consumers and develop more promotional strategies (Green, 2016)
  • Furthermore, it is recommended that it has been observed that Nike invests millions of dollars in marketing and therefore it can be recommended that there is a need to achieve higher efficiency. Nike can use data and information provided to its social media pages by consumers and use data analytics tools to achieve more efficiency (Nichols and Gardner, 2017)
  • In addition, it is also recommended that Nike can use artificial intelligence tools and techniques to enhance its marketing strategy. For example, AI-enhanced PPC advertising is a tool that can be used to enhance marketing effects and optimise marketing budget on social media web pages such as Facebook (Karppinen, 2016).
  • The Nike positions itself in different targets and takes into account the particularities of each country. For example, in the United States basketball and American football are stronger than soccer. In addition, Nike is in different sports disciplines and is also an event sponsor. Thus, it encompasses people who practice different sports and has made everyone feel part of the same community. In this way, in digital strategy it has differentiated its segments by disciplines such as “Nike Football” or “Nike Basketball”. This segmentation for content marketing manages to provide each buyer person with what they need depending on their interests. Hence, more segmentation focused on identifying niche products can be used to enhance content marketing strategy (Zhou, et al., 2016).
  • Nike empowers its audience to create their own personalized content. In other words, it gives the consumer the opportunity to design their own sports shoes according to their style. Thus, it manages to make users feel part of the brand and its values. In fact, through personalization, it manages to generate a feeling of belonging and relevance to the company. In Nike’s strategy consumer tastes and interests are key, allowing them to create their own footwear. Thus, it reaches the emotions and feelings of the clients, feeling part of a shared project. It is recommended that Nike should improve this strategy by developing promotions and social media influencers and celebrities that are most effective for the company as compared to sports celebrities (Teo, 2019).
  • There is also a need for the reorientation of sports sponsorship. This new reality has triggered a real war between Nike, and its main competitor Adidas, for sponsoring the best clubs in the world. One of the effects of this reorientation of sports sponsorship to clubs is the high figures that will be paid for such sponsorship, which will require a long time for the investment to be profitable. For all these reasons, we insist that the decades-long alliances allow sports firms to better monetize their investments, which in the case of large teams have been triggered by increasing economic demands (Ratten, et al., 2016).

Future Research

Although, this study is based on mixed method using both secondary and primary sources of data, and depicts adequate level of reliability and validity, yet, there are some inherent limitations in the methodology and scope of this study. These limitations present future research opportunities. First among the methodological limitations is the small sample size of data collection process for both quantitative and qualitative empirical evidence. Furthermore, the evidence has been gathered from marketing professionals only which shows that the sample lacks diversity. Although the marketing professional’s insights are important and valuable yet, the research literature would also benefit from perspective and opinions of other stakeholders, particularly consumers, athletes, fans, and other stakeholders. Therefore, it is recommended that future researcher may conduct the same methodology with bigger and larger scale survey and more interview participants as well as with more diversified sample participants. In addition, this study was focused on assessing the impact of social media while using only three indicators, i.e. content marketing, word of mouth, and celebrity endorsement, however, there are also other factors of social media that must be determined and included in future research projects. In addition, this study was based on case study of Nike which is a multinational company which invests millions of dollars in marketing and has shown significant success in social media marketing. But the results cannot be equally applicable in case of SMEs. Hence there are opportunities for future researchers to gather evidence regarding SMEs and assess the impact of social media marketing on sport marketing in SMEs context also.       

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Appendix A – Survey Questionnaire

Demographics

Gender

  • Male
  • Female

Age

  • 18 to 30
  • 31 to 40
  • 41 to 50
  • 51 to 60
  • Over 60 years

Education

  • Under graduate
  • Graduate
  • Post graduate
  • PhD
  • Others

Scale Strongly Agree (5), Agree (4), Neutral (3), Disagree (2), Strongly Disagree (1)

 

Independent Variable – Content Marketing

Social media content is most important element of digital marketing success of Nike

(5)(4)(3)(2)(1)

The content on Nike social media platforms is coherent and consistent with its strategic marketing objectives

 

The content of Nike’s social media is focused on developing community of loyal customers

 

Nike effectively uses social media content for advertising and marketing of its products and brand

 

 

 

Independent Variable – Celebrity Endorsement

 

Celebrity endorsement is long lasting tradition maintained by Nike both in traditional as well as digital social media marketing strategies

 

Celebrity endorsement contributes towards creating online community and developing sense of loyalty towards its brand

 

Celebrity endorsement helps Nike to transform passion and love of fans of celebrities into favourable buying behaviour and customer loyalty

 

It is safe to assume that Nike uses the celebrity endorsement strategy effectively in its marketing campaigns

 

 

 

Independent Variable – Word of Mouth

 

Positive recommendations made by friends and family in social networks are more trusted and accepted by consumers as compared to other advertising

 

Positive word of mouth increases the intention to buying and favourable consumer behaviour such repeat purchase

 

The content on social media platforms of Nike is generally positive and favourable for its marketing objectives

 

Nike has a powerful customer engagement such as ‘@NikeSupport’ to enhance positive word of mouth

 

 

 

Dependent Variable – Sports Marketing

 

Social media has become an essential feature of sports marketing firms such as Nike

 

The success of social media based sports marketing is heavily relied upon the content quality

 

Celebrity endorsement is a customary and effective marketing strategy for sports merchandise firms such as Nike

 

Spreading positive word of mouth is critical for the achievement of marketing objectives  such as developing loyal customer base and online community for Nike